Colony of 45 feral cats found in Walthamstow amid 'crisis' of un-neutered petsLow rates of neutering and spaying have created a "cat crisis" in and around Waltham Forest
A “crisis” of un-neutered cats in and around Waltham Forest has led to feral "colonies" on the street and dangerous inbreeding in family homes.
Natalie Talbot, coordinator of Cats Protection Waltham Forest (WFCP), said volunteers are called out on a daily basis to help abandoned cats, most often in places like Walthamstow and Leyton.
A transient population and surge in demand for kittens during lockdown - followed by a sudden crash once it lifted - means shelters and rescues are now “full to bursting”, with many animals instead abandoned on the street.
When these cats meet and breed, giving birth to babies that have never known domesticated life, they can form colonies of feral cats that can’t be rehomed, which WFCP instead neuters and feeds where they are.
Kittens found behind a tower of car tyres (credit: WFCP)
Natalie told the Echo the charity drops food monthly for five colonies in and around Waltham Forest, the largest of which was found in the E17 area last summer.
Natalie said: “Someone told us they had seen a pregnant cat and a volunteer went to find her and then rang me in tears. There was some maisonette housing with a big communal garden at the back and it was like a big litter tray for around 45 cats and kittens, none of them neutered.
“There were two ladies who had been feeding them but the kittens were constantly getting carried off by foxes and some of the cats were quite sickly.
“We neutered all of them, rehomed the ones that were friendly and relocated some to working homes like stables, where they become mice or rat-catchers. But, even now, it’s still an ongoing job, we do a food drop once a month for the remaining cats.
“A lot of the time even people that live here don’t see these problems, people don’t unless they know where to look.”
A severely inbred cat rescued by the charity (credit: WFCP)
However, Natalie warned that the dangers of failing to neuter cats are not isolated to abandoned animals.
Last weekend the charity rescued a family of dangerously inbred pets, who had been allowed to mate with their own relatives for three years.
Writing about the rescued cats on Facebook, Natalie wrote: “When people ask why it is so important to neuter their cats, this is why! The photos are horrible but don’t show the full horrific reality.
“If you have two kittens from the same mother, they don’t know they are siblings and, from four months of age, they will become sexually active and will mate with each other or their parents.”
A disabled cat rescued by the charity (credit: WFCP)
Natalie told the Echo neutering is also important because of the high rate of feline HIV in the borough and because it protects cats from numerous health issues, including some forms of cancer.
Un-neutered male cats are also more aggressive and likely to injure each other while fighting and she has seen some cats “with their faces hanging off” after developing infections from their wounds.
She added that the charity, which she has been a part of for five years on top of her full-time job, is always looking for more people to foster cats or volunteer with the charity, particularly when it comes to transporting animals.
Find out more about their work on their website here