A charity believes unscrupulous kitten breeders are dumping pedigree cats when they can no longer make money out of them.
Volunteers at Yorkshire Cat Rescue fear so-called ‘kitten farms’ are operating in the area after cats were found abandoned in Huddersfield.
Kiki, a Bengal cat, was found pregnant, underweight and sick by a Longwood resident in August. Kiki survived but her five kittens died.
And at around the same time, another Bengal cat and a Persian cat were found abandoned.
The charity, which took in Kiki, believes the cats were bred for profit by kitten farmers.
The animals were probably dumped when they became ill or could not be bred from anymore, says YCR chief Sara Atkinson.
Ms Atkinson said: “When we got Kiki other rescue groups came forward saying they had found pedigree cats from the same area at around the same time.”
To maximise their profits, backyard farmers often over-breed their animals, avoid veterinary care and skimp on their animals’ diets.
Ms Atkinson said: “Kiki is a mature lady in cat terms. Our vet estimates that she could be around eight years old. Her teeth are in appalling condition and she had very little body fat when we found her.
“A good breeder would only let a cat have a litter once every couple of years or so.
“Sadly, Kiki has most likely been used for intensive breeding since she was very young, only to be thrown out on the street when she became a financial burden instead of a money-making tool.
“Our worry at this point is for any remaining cats that may still be used for intensive breeding, and for others that have been thrown out and are living on the streets.”
While Kiki was nursed back to health, her five kittens died.
Ms Atkinson said: “The cost of buying a cheap pedigree kitten from a kitten farmer is the health and wellbeing of both mum and kittens. In Kiki’s case, five little lives were lost.
“I sincerely hope that Kiki’s story will highlight the perils of buying kittens – or indeed any animal – without making sure the mum is first and foremost a happy and healthy pet.”
Like backyard dog breeders, kitten farmers rarely use breeding cats registered with the The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), the feline equivalent of the Kennel Club.
People may be paying up to £400 for a ‘pedigree’ cat that is not what is seems and Ms Atkinson said: “People are getting hoodwinked.
“You shouldn’t buy ‘knock-off’ kittens because they may not be genuine pedigrees and it’s unethical and chances are they will be ill and won’t survive.”
Yorkshire Cat Rescue cares for and rehomes cats in West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and East Lancashire.
For more information about adopting a cat visit www.yorkshirecatrescue.org .
Sadly Huddersfield has more than it's fair share of animal cruelty. Below is a gallery of just a few of the shocking incidents over recent years. If you know of an animal that is being abused, please contact the RSPCA by clicking here to be taken to their website or on 0300 1234 999.