Shelter sees rising reports of feral cats

Trustee Sandra Branch-Burbridge of North Norfolk Cats Lifeline with cat Clarence. Picture: Ella Wilk

Trustee Sandra Branch-Burbridge of North Norfolk Cats Lifeline with a feline friend.   - Credit: Archant

The population of feral cats in parts of north Norfolk has been on the rise throughout the pandemic, according to a trustee of a cat shelter.

Sandra Branch-Burbridge, from the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust, said the charity had been busy since relocating to its new home in the grounds of Antingham Village Hall, near North Walsham, last year.

Mrs Branch-Burbridge said: "We've had an influx of people dumping cats and then they have been breeding because they haven't been neutered. 

Six-month-old Syrup, who was taken in by the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust after being found aba

File photo of a cat at the  North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust. - Credit: Archant

"We've been getting calls from Fakenham, all along the coast. 

"Someone reported there had been some cats dumped in the woods in the Cawston Road area near Aylsham. Originally it was thought to be a small number of cats but it turned out to be 10 adults and 13 kittens." 

Mrs Branch-Burbridge said there were currently about 100 cats at the shelter, and the rise in feral cat reports seemed to have started before the pandemic. 

She said feral cats were not only bad for wildlife, but inbreeding among cat colonies could cause physical abnormalities and underlying health problems.

A resident of the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust, whose Sheringwood home is under threat of closu

File photo of a cat at the  North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust. - Credit: Archant

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Mrs Branch-Burbridge said: "Before you know it, a colony can form. It only takes a year if there are girls in the litter."

The trust rehomes as many cats as it can, and Mrs Branch-Burbridge said they were able to find homes for about 50 felines between last year's lockdowns. 

The trust was founded in the 1990s by former opera singer Gay Rees in the grounds of her Sheringham home, and has taken in hundreds of neglected, abandoned and unwanted cats and kittens.

However, after Ms Rees's death in 2017, the remaining trustees were told to pack up and leave, and after a legal battle, Mrs Branch-Burbridge decided the charity's only option was to find a new site. 

An intensive fundraising campaign saw trustees and volunteers raise more than £50,000 for new buildings.

The trust is planning to run its first open day so members of the public can see the new premises and visit the cats, on Sunday, September 5 from 10am to 5pm. 

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