A cat and her six kittens were left on the side a Mackay Harbour road, near the Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre in June. Abandoned without food or water five of the six kittens later died. RSPCA staff called this kitten Eunice. It is unknown if she was the one who survived.
A cat and her six kittens were left on the side a Mackay Harbour road, near the Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre in June. Abandoned without food or water five of the six kittens later died. RSPCA staff called this kitten Eunice. It is unknown if she was the one who survived.

Left for dead: Kittens dumped in locked cage

A MOTHER cat and her six kittens were left in a carry cage zip-locked shut by the roadside at Mackay Harbour.

No one knows how long the poor animals were there, but RSPCA staff know how deadly this drop off could have been.

Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre co-ordinator Michelle McGregor said it was nearly midday before council road workers "heard their little meows" and found the abandoned cats without any water or food.

The mother cat, Fran, lost five of her six kittens.

A cat and her six kittens were left on the side a Mackay Harbour road, near the Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre in June. Abandoned without food or water five of the six kittens later died. RSPCA staff called this kitten Annie. It is unknown if she was the one who survived.
A cat and her six kittens were left on the side a Mackay Harbour road, near the Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre in June. Abandoned without food or water five of the six kittens later died. RSPCA staff called this kitten Annie. It is unknown if she was the one who survived.

It was the second pet dumping incident in June, she said, after seven puppies were abandoned by a Bowen river.

Last month 34 dogs and 27 cats were handed over to the shelter.

And Ms McGregor said that number could increase as pet owners face increasing financial strain during the pandemic and recession.

A cat and her six kittens were left on the side a Mackay Harbour road, near the Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre in June. Abandoned without food or water five of the six kittens later died.
A cat and her six kittens were left on the side a Mackay Harbour road, near the Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre in June. Abandoned without food or water five of the six kittens later died.

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"It's quite regular that we are taking in more than one animal a day," she said.

"(Animal dumping) is a regular thing that happens.

"It's not an extra burden, it's a regular burden."

Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre co-ordinator Michelle McGregor with 12-week-old kittens Bunny and Pinkie.
Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre co-ordinator Michelle McGregor with 12-week-old kittens Bunny and Pinkie.

When pets come home with a surprise litter, Ms McGregor said their often owners struggled to find them new homes.

"Particularly with cats, people don't understand how well they breed," Ms McGregor said.

The number of animals surrendered to the RSPCA did not rise dramatically during the coronavirus lockdown, Ms McGregor said.

But a recession could trigger new pressures on the centre, she warned.

"If you need to put tyres on your car to go to work or buy food for your family, the animals might is not always a priority," she said.

Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre co-ordinator Michelle McGregor with American staffy cross puppies Roslind and Puck.
Mackay RSPCA Adoption Centre co-ordinator Michelle McGregor with American staffy cross puppies Roslind and Puck.

Forever homes possible even during a crisis

DURING the height of the lockdown an angel appeared in Liz Spain's life.

The North Mackay woman cared for two shorthair ragdoll cross cats, Angel and her kitten, after they were abandoned on Blacks Beach in March.

Despite the uncertainty in the early stages of the lockdown, Ms Spain was quickly able to find a home for the homeless cats.

North Mackay resident Liz Spain adopted two shorthair ragdoll cross cats, a mother and her kitten, after they were abandoned on Blacks Beach in March.
North Mackay resident Liz Spain adopted two shorthair ragdoll cross cats, a mother and her kitten, after they were abandoned on Blacks Beach in March.

"(The kitten) found a home and is with a young girl and her parents. (She was) all desexed and vaccinated at their expense," Ms Spain said.

"Angel was with me for five or six weeks. The organisation MARS (Mackay Animal Rescue Society) did all the adoption work and vet work. I just loved and cared for her."

"There is a band of very wonderful foster carers out there."

North Mackay resident Liz Spain adopted two shorthair ragdoll cross cats, a mother and her kitten, after they were abandoned on Blacks Beach in March.
North Mackay resident Liz Spain adopted two shorthair ragdoll cross cats, a mother and her kitten, after they were abandoned on Blacks Beach in March.

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But Ms Spain said she was still concerned about how many animals were being abandoned in Mackay, with animals left in boxes and cages around the region.

"People just pop them over the fences (at the RSPCA)," she said.

As a Petbarn employee Ms Spain said she saw how economic pressures were hitting Mackay households and the animals that relied on them.

North Mackay resident Liz Spain adopted two shorthair ragdoll cross cats, a mother and her kitten, after they were abandoned on Blacks Beach in March.
North Mackay resident Liz Spain adopted two shorthair ragdoll cross cats, a mother and her kitten, after they were abandoned on Blacks Beach in March.

"Anecdotally from customers there's been a lot of breakups," she said.

"I know of three households who have broken up and had to divide the animals.

"(And) what happens to the pets once you've lost your job?"