A litter of kittens was discovered dumped in a plastic bag and hung on a garden gate in Ballycastle.
Thought to be only three or four weeks old, five kittens were handed in to volunteers at the Coleraine Branch of Cats Protection. Unfortunately, one of them did not survive.
“Zuma, Rocky, Marshal and Skye don't have any obvious health issues - they will be checked over by a vet to confirm this - and it would appear they had not been away from their mother for very long before they were found,” said branch co-ordinator Alison Hagan.
“For now they are being bottle fed, including once during the night, which for four kittens takes up a lot of time to get them all fed and cleaned up.”
This is the just the latest in a spate of litters that have ended up in the care of the Coleraine Branch, stretching the time and resources of dedicated volunteers.
A Justgiving page has been set up to allow generous cat lovers to donate towards the cost of caring for the kittens. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fundraising drive can visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/coleraine-cats-protection1 and Gift Aid may be added to give more to the appeal at no extra cost. Any additional money raised will be used to help the other cats currently in the care of the branch.
As well as raising the kittens, volunteers will also have to find them suitable homes, along with all the other cats it has in its care.
The branch is keen to stress that with so many cats already needing to find homes, neutering is essential to prevent more unwanted cats being born.
“We see young cats have kittens from as young as four months and then far too frequently these are abandoned,” said Alison.
“We urge all cat owners to get their cats neutered, and for anyone struggling to pay for the procedure we can offer financial help,” said Alison.
Cats Protection runs a Northern Ireland-wide scheme which enables cats to be neutered for £5 for owners on low incomes. Anyone eligible will receive a voucher to redeem at participating vets.
For further information on the scheme visit https://www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering/current-neutering-campaigns/northern-ireland-campaign or call 03000 121 212.