Western Bay animal adoption centres are chocka with kittens after an early start to the feline breeding season.

Tauranga SPCA reports that between its centre and foster families, it is looking after more than 150 cats and kittens - with more arriving daily - while ARRC Wildlife Trust has more than 50 kittens in its care.

"It's been madness," said Teena Bailey, who had run ARRC's adoption centre with her partner Robin Dutton from their Te Puna home for four-and-a-half years.

Bailey put the kitten boom down to an earlier than usual start to the breeding season, brought on by warmer weather in October and November.

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"It's lots of hard work but lots of fun too," Bailey said.

Linda Somerfield picked out 7-week-old Gracie after the death of her beloved cat Thorn at 14.

Somerfield said she went to ARRC because "Teena and Robin do such a marvellous job".

Tauranga SPCA manager Margaret Rawiri said the Greerton centre was "quite full" and while that was expected for this time of year, it did put a strain on cage space and resources.

"We have people coming into the centre on a daily basis with mums and kittens or litters of kittens on their own that have been found abandoned in one place or another - in a park, under a tree, you name it."

She said the number of animals cared for in the centre leapt up this year, rising from 1746 in 2016 to 1920 for 2017, a trend she partly linked to the Bay's rising population.

ARRC Wildlife Trust director Dr Liza Schneider the rise in unwanted kittens was also due to cats not being desexed.

A number of kittens came in from areas where ARRC's Community Cat Project to desex, rehome or humanely euthanise unwanted cats had been active from 2012 to 2015.

"This indicates that stray and disowned cat numbers are rising and the problem is once again rearing its head," Schneider said.

Some of the kittens had been taken into care because of people threatening to dump them.

"We take in these kittens because if they're dumped they have to fend for themselves and inevitably they will breed to produce further generations of unwanted cats," she said.

"Until we have a collaborative community approach where we all play our part to ensure that cats are responsibly owned and cared for, it will be an ongoing problem."

Raining cats and kittens

Tauranga SPCA

- Available for adoption: 15 cats, 25 kittens (plus 8 puppies and 2 rabbits)

- Too young or on hold: 61 kittens, 18 adult cats

- In foster care: 50-60 mums and kittens

ARRC Wildlife Trust
- Available for adoption: 8 kittens (3 reserved)
- In foster care: 50 or so kittens