Stray cats are putting a "huge" strain on the resources of local animal charities.

Hastings and District SPCA chairwoman Daileen Kensington said the current situation was "pretty bad".

"There are cats out there not being desexed and breeding," she said. "There is also the issue of cats appearing on people's doorsteps which they class as strays but actually are either owned or have been owned by people.

"That is the most difficult aspect to deal with, potentially they are still owned, rather than strays."

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Historically Hastings District Council did collect strays for disposal but that ended about three years ago.

"Council is not an animal welfare organisation," a council spokeswoman said.

"It is limited to carrying out animal control operations, its welfare obligations are only to dogs being housed temporarily within the Animal Welfare Centre."

Council's obligations were limited by the Animal Control Act and council's bylaws, she said.

To broaden that scope would take a decision by the councillors.

"Council does support the SPCA by assisting financially with the cost of disposing of cats."

It was a huge cost to the charity, Ms Kensington said.

One inspector spent a large percentage of his time dealing with the reporting and trapping of strays.

The flow-on effect was that then the SPCA had to find somewhere to house the strays.

"Of course it puts a huge strain on resources."

Ms Kensington had been in contact with the council's Animal Management manager John Payne and the charity was hoping to work with them.

"We are looking at maybe obtaining some funding to help because we would like our inspector to be freed up to do his inspectorate role looking after animal welfare issues," she said.

"It's a local problem. It is a problem for society in general, as such the council probably has an element to play there."

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said the council had supported the charity in the past with some grant money.

"I think if we were approached we would always consider support," he said.