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Strays are rescued from estate in homeless cats ‘crisis’

Charity founder urges public to support effort to take animals off streets

01 May, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Barbara Read with Shola

MORE than 25 stray cats have been rescued from the same Islington estate in an example of what the RSPCA has called the homeless “cat crisis” in London.

Barbara Read, who founded the cat rescue charity Feline Friends London, has spent nearly two years trying to trace and trap a stray in the Mayville Estate, just off Newington Green. The cat was pregnant when Ms Read first spotted her.

If one female feline is left to roam unneutered, she said, the cat can very quickly become responsible for a colony of cats – often giving birth to three litters a year.

Ms Read told the Tribune: “It’s ironic that because of the internet, cats have never been more popular, but then at the same time we have a cat crisis in this country and especially in London.

“People love looking at them on the internet. If everyone who did this could donate to a charity or adopt a cat they would really be helping. Most of them don’t though.”

Rescued cat Bella Masie and her kittens

The charity Cats Protection estimated that there are roughly nine million strays in the UK with a report from the RSPCA on the UK’s “cat crisis” adding that London is a hotspot.

“Just before Christmas I went and trapped a female cat I had been wanting to rescue for a couple of years,” Ms Read said.

“When I first tried to rescue her she was pregnant. She then gave birth and one of the residents took the kittens, which is a very inappropriate thing to do. That rather sabotaged my rescue attempt.

“She then had more kittens and probably the four juveniles I rescued there in November were her offspring.”

Ms Read believes she may have now finally cleared the Mayville of all the strays for the time being.

She said: “Since the pandemic lockdown, we have had endless people wanting to adopt and foster. It has become almost unmanageable.”

She added: “I have been working with cats now for 12 years and I never cease to be enchanted by them. I have a deep respect for them and ultimately this work is a labour of love.”

• To find out more about Barbara Read’s work go to


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