THE KITTEN crisis in Bradford is far from over, rescuers have warned, with one small charity saving 146 cats from the streets in one year.
Laura Westcough, who co-runs Pink Paws Cat Rescue, described the situation as a "nightmare" that never ends, having seen a dramatic increase in strays in the past three years.
It's a problem happening "more and more" across the district, leaving them to deal with mortifying cases of neglect.
Tom cats dumped in a bag, kittens dead in the street or blind due to untreated illnesses; these are just some of the conditions these animals are found in.
In 2017, Laura's team saved just 50 cats, revealing how dramatically the problem has escalated.
Laura told the Telegraph & Argus: "It's incredibly stressful. I feel very sorry for us sometimes.
"If you're not fundraising, you're trapping. If you're not trapping, you're doing vet runs. It takes up everything in your life.
"We've all got jobs. I'm the only one without children at the moment.
"We're spending about a £1,000 a week on vet bills. In December last year, we spent £4,650.
"We're raising everything ourselves.
"Lack of neutering causes them to fight, spreading disease and infections and viruses. Abandoning them and leaving them to fend for themselves, they can’t do very well because they are domesticated. This is just a small snippet of what goes on, it’s horrific.
"We really need to push the importance of neutering and we desperately need help from larger organisations too."
And Laura's rescue is just one struggling to cope in the city.
Allerton Cat Rescue saw a 27 per cent rise in the number of cats and kittens it saved, from 727 in 2018 to 925 in 2019.
As a larger rescue, its vet bill for 2019 was a staggering £100,335, paying off £88,881 so far.
A spokesperson for Allerton Cat Rescue said: "We were out trapping on the streets nearly every day from the end of Spring and were so busy with pregnant mums and kittens that we had to close our doors at the end of the summer."
In a bid to tackle the problem, Laura has created leaflets in various languages to educate Bradfordians on why it's important to neuter cats.
There's over 150 languages spoken in the district and the only way to create change is to communicate, Laura believes.
Laura explained: "We're going to really struggle if we have another year like this.
"It's in the hope that people realise what they need to be doing: responsible ownership."