An explosion of kitten births has left one charity bursting at the seams - filling over 20 foster homes with kittens in just two weeks. 

With spring slow to arrive, a lack of unwanted kittens had staff at Yorkshire Cat Rescue wondering whether campaigns to neuter cats had finally worked. 

Word from colleagues across the country was similar, with some charities in the South of England reporting a surplus in families wanting to adopt a kitten, but with none available.

"Everyone was ready to manage the influx of pregnant cats and kittens that we usually get from March onwards. But this year, nothing happened," says head of Cat Care at Yorkshire Cat Rescue, Sam Davies. "It was really odd - utopia for a charity like ours which is usually overflowing with unwanted cats. But we were starting to wonder if maybe things had changed. Sadly, they hadn't."

Suddenly everything changed and, just as in previous years, calls started coming in about pregnant strays and kittens that had been born outside.

Sam says: "We rely on foster homes to help care for pregnant cats so they have somewhere safe and warm to deliver their kittens and raise them in a loving home environment. Within two weeks, we had filled every single space with kittens - more than 20 homes across Yorkshire. Instead of a steady flow, it they all seemed to arrive overnight. We are now pleading with the most experienced of our foster homes to take in more kittens, as the calls just keep coming.

"If a kitten grows up outside, their odds of ever getting a real home are slim. They really need to be raised in human hands from as early as possible. So if anyone sees a pregnant cat or suspect kittens have been born under a building or in their garden, please let a good local charity know immediately. We can't always help, but we do prioritise cats like these which are particularly at risk." 

In addition to love and care, kittens are expensive to raise. The charity's founder, Sara Atkinson, says: "Young kittens need special food and nutrition for starters. And sadly, these very young kittens born outside or to mothers that have carried them as a stray often become unwell and need additional vet care and medication. So the kitten season always puts extra pressure on our resources."

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