The south west London branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is bracing itself for a storm of feral cats.
The branch has reported that over lockdown people have not been reporting cases of feral cats in the way they usually would.
The RSPCA said as lockdown eases it is preparing to see a surge in abandoned pets more generally, as it reveals more animals were dumped in London in the summer of 2019 than anywhere else in England and Wales.
Carmel Suthons, chair of RSPCA Wimbledon, Wandsworth & Sutton District Branch said: “In normal circumstances we are busy and have many cats waiting for their new homes, but currently it’s eerily quiet, and we’re wondering when the storm will hit us.
“There are feral cat communities out there who would normally be trapped, rehabilitated, neutered and re-homed, and people have not been reporting those cases to us.”
Ms Suthons said that the number of feral cats can rise rapidly if left unchecked.
She said: “One female who has a litter of kittens, and the offspring of those kittens, can generate 90 cats in one year, and in five years, the original cat can have 20,000 descendants.”
The charity says that it typically sees a peak in abandonment in the summer months, but is preparing for an even bigger impact this summer following the easing of lockdown and the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic which it fears will cause more owners to abandon pets.
On why the summer months tend to see more animals being abandoned, Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams said: “Sadly summer tends to bring with it a surge in abandoned animals.
“We don’t know why but it may be a combination of the warmer weather making people feel less guilty about dumping a pet to fend for themselves and people going away on holiday abandoning pets instead of arranging care for them.”
During the three months since lockdown began in March 2020, the RSPCA received reports of 3,492 abandoned animals including 1,509 dogs, 1,165 cats, 299 ‘small furries’ such as hamsters, guinea pigs and ferrets and 275 exotic pets.
Mr Murphy said he would urge anyone struggling with their pet to ask for help.
He added: “Animals have been there to help us through the crisis, please don’t abandon them now.”
Read more about the RSPCA’s emergency appeal to aid its animal rescue work here.