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Animal sanctuary looks to rehome record number of kittens amid coronavirus pandemic

Lyn Friel, founder of the Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary in Antrim, holds a kitten. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire 
Rebecca Black, PA

A Co Antrim animal sanctuary has received the biggest influx of kittens in its history over recent months.

Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary, which primarily cares for horses, said at one stage it had more than 60 kittens and cats in its care.

Centre founder Lyn Friel said she believes the big increase this year was due to less spaying and neutering taking place amid the pandemic.

"We are trying desperately to rehome some of the dozens of kittens that we have got in over the last couple of months," she told the PA news agency.

"In all our years, we have been founded since 1996, we have never seen as many kittens.

"We have been taking in a lot of semi-feral kittens, kittens that were living rough on the streets and we've been handling them, getting them spayed or neutered, vaccinated and out into homes.

"There has been an increase because of Covid because people who would normally be going out doing trap, neuter and release have not been out doing it.

"For example, we brought in 11 from Ballymena. Of those 11, one had six kittens, one had five kittens, a couple have been spayed and some have been neutered.

"So can you imagine what that would have been like if they all had of been allowed to breed, then by the time those kittens are four to four-and-a-half months, they would be in kitten as well."

On Monday there were more than 20 kittens at the sanctuary, as well as a number of cats.

"We have rehomed quite a few and then there was a lull," she said.

"And not only the kittens, we have a lot of adult cats that need (to be) homed as well."

She has appealed for people who can rehome kittens and cats, and anyone who is willing to foster kittens to get them used to a home environment and a litter tray, to get in touch.

"That would take a great strain off us because we are standing in a tack room with 11 cats and kittens, while over in the cabin there are more than 20 and then seven in the office," she said.

"There are cats absolutely everywhere you look, they are even in my own house now."

Ms Friel also appealed for donations after many of the sanctuary's fundraising efforts had to be stopped because of the coronavirus regulations against gatherings.

"We used to have a lovely coffee morning with cats to raise money, people brought along homemade buns and cakes, and spent time sitting and playing with the cats," she said.

"But that's all been knocked on the head so we're trying to get as many fundraisers as we can but we're not sure how we're going to go forward with it."

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