A local animal charity is fixing the stray cat problem, one friendly feline at a time.

In this year alone the Taranaki Animal Protection Trust (TAPT) has rescued and rehomed an incredible 433 kittens and cats around the region.

Trustee Kathryn Duncan says helping the cats find their forever homes is always a great feeling.

"Being able to place these cats and kittens with people who will love them and care for them is really great."

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On Sunday, the trust held an adoption day in Hāwera, successfully finding forever homes for 14 of the cats and kittens currently in their care.

Sugar and Spice were at the adoption day in the hope of finding their forever home.
Sugar and Spice were at the adoption day in the hope of finding their forever home.

Kathryn says while it is great those 14 felines have been rehomed, there are plenty more where they came from.

The trust works with cats and kittens across Taranaki, helping rescue and rehome them from a variety of situations.

Some have been dumped deliberately and found as kittens, while others come from cat colonies where several cats are living together in the wild. Every cat or kitten the trust works with is checked for a microchip before being considered for adoption by anyone, she says.

Sometimes, that check helps reunite a family with their much loved, and greatly missed, pet.

"This year, a wonderful caretaker at the Inglewood Primary School helped care for and trap a feral cat that was hanging around there. When we got her to the sanctuary we checked and she was microchipped. When the family were called it was six years since their girl was lost. They had moved to Levin and had come back every weekend over a two month period to try and find her with no luck."

As soon as Kathryn called them, the family jumped in their car to collect their beloved pet.

Microchipping cats is vital, says Kathryn.

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"Without microchipping and their owners placing them on to the national database, so many cats would never have found their way home."

The trust was formed nine years ago in response to a need for grassroots support to people caring for or overseeing the welfare of animals in our community, says Kathryn.

Volunteers juggle their own work commitment around helping the trust in a variety of ways, from fostering the animals before they find their permanent home, feeding colonies of cats, trapping strays and finding ways to raise much needed and valuable funds for the trust.

Gigi and Bella are two of the kittens looking for their forever homes through the trust.
Gigi and Bella are two of the kittens looking for their forever homes through the trust.

Kathryn says they are grateful for support from various vets in Taranaki, Animates in New Plymouth, and various individuals and groups.

Daveena Taylor has been volunteering for TAPT for a year and says it is hard work, but incredibly rewarding. In the past year she has helped care for 158 cats and kittens, all of which spent time at her home during the process.

Fostering kittens and cats has made a real impact on her life says Daveena, and one very special feline has found his forever home with her through the Trust.

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"Sketty was a foster fail. He has Radial Hypoplasia which means his front legs are badly bowed, he kind of looks like a T-Rex. Two vets said to put him to sleep but I said no, and decided to give him a try, as there have been others like him overseas who have lived normal healthy lives.

"Today Sketty is a loving beautiful boy who is the best foster dad to all our foster kittens. He has so much personality, I cannot imagine my life without him."

Sketty the cat made his permanent home with Trust volunteer Daveena.
Sketty the cat made his permanent home with Trust volunteer Daveena.

Looking after so many cats and kittens isn't cheap, with the Trust spending an average of $700 a fortnight on food, litter and vet bills. Sometimes those vet bills can get high, says Daveena.

"We have recently been caring for a little abandoned kitten we've called Pippa. She came to us with a bad eye which she has no sight in. We are fortunate with having some really supportive vets around the region, and Vets for Pets New Plymouth have offered to do the surgery she needs at a discounted cost."

That surgery, to remove the bad eye, will still cost the Trust nearly $500, says Daveena, and Pippa will also need desexing, vaccinating and microchipping just like all the cats the Trust rehomes.

Pippa will need surgery to remove her eye, a cost which puts extra pressure on the trust. The little kitten has been adopted by someone who attended Sunday's adoption day.
Pippa will need surgery to remove her eye, a cost which puts extra pressure on the trust. The little kitten has been adopted by someone who attended Sunday's adoption day.

Pippa was one of the kittens to find her permanent home at the adoption day in Hāwera on the weekend, but there are many more kittens and cats still in need of their home, says Daveena.

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"We encourage people to look on our Facebook page, or contact us if they would like to give an abandoned cat or kitten a home."

Daveena says with kittens able to start breeding at just 4 months old, it is vital people make sure they get their pet cats neutered.

"We wouldn't be needed if people would just desex their cats. Yes, it can be expensive, but we can help with discounted desexing to help break the cycle."

There are a variety of ways the Trust fundraises, with garage sales and a pop up shop planned for the near future, says Daveena.

The Trust is also looking into holding a charity dinner next year to fundraise and celebrate 10 years of the Trust.

To keep up to date on all the coming events, including future adoption days, follow them on Facebook - find the Taranaki Animal Protection Trust group and join it.

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If you want to make a monetary donation, their account number is 15-3954-0509274-00 The account name is TAPT, and please out your own name as a reference.

What to do if you find a cat or have feral cats hanging around:

Check with neighbours by either door knocking or flyer dropping.

Also check New Zealand Lost Pet Register lost pets in your area.

Call SPCA in the first instance if you believe the animal is hurt.

If you can catch or trap the animal do so and get it to a vet to check for a microchip.

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Contact the Trust to see if it can offer advice or help.

Volunteer Deb Summers designs adverts like this one to help capture people's attention.
Volunteer Deb Summers designs adverts like this one to help capture people's attention.
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