Overwhelmed local cat charity struggles to keep up with demand

Image above: Georgy 

Hounslow Animal Welfare Society closes mailing address 

A local cat charity have said they are struggling keep up with the needs of animals left in their care, as more and more west London residents abandon their pets.

Hounslow Animal Welfare Society have said they are “absolutely inundated” with abandoned pets and are struggling to meet their needs as the weight of their financial burden grows heavier, casting a shadow over their ability to provide sick and injured cats with essential care and support.

The charity has been forced to temporarily close its mailing address after discovering that people were abandoning cats and other small animals there, despite there being no facility for the animals at the site.

Recently, a domesticated rabbit with a broken leg was left with the charity. The rabbit’s leg was so badly broken that it needed to be amputated.

Two female cats who had recently given birth were also found dumped, left near some rubbish bins. The cats had had nine kittens between them, but volunteers at the charity were unable to figure out which kittens belonged to which cat.

Another cat, Georgy, was turfed out of a cat carrier by two women, which was reported to the charity. She was terrified and didn’t move from that spot, so was able to be collected. The charity discovered a lot of blood in the cat carrier and took Georgy straight to emergency vet, where it turned out she had bladder stones which needed an operation and likely was “in a great deal of pain”.

“It’s a constant struggle” HAWS’ Founder Carol Willingham told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We get emails every day of people wanting to give up their cats. Either they’re moving, or they can’t afford them and it just goes on and on and on.”

“We’re certainly getting more abandoned ones and more people requesting help, but a lot of the time we just can’t because we’re full and just can’t help.”

Image above: Skylar – one of the cats who had recently had kittens and was abandoned

Vet bills for the charity run up into the thousands, with more for specialised care

HAWS does not have a centre to work out of, instead they primarily rely on the limited amount of foster carer volunteers to look after cats which are left in the charity’s care.

The charity is in partnership with Companion Care, which operates out of Pets at Home in Brentford, who take care of any animals which need medical attention. They also have limited spaces for cats that need to be look after until they can find a foster home.

“But of course, that costs us a lot of money” Carol added, “So not only are we paying for their neutering, their microchipping and vaccinations, we’re also paying for their boarding until we can move them onto a foster home. But often, literally as soon as a space becomes vacant it’s filled.”

HAWS ask for a relatively modest adoption fee of £100, despite cats having cost the charity much more than that while in their care. Vet bills are often almost prohibitively expensive, especially for specialised care such as was required for the abandoned rabbit with the broken leg.

“She cost us a lot of money and we hoped we could save her leg, but the vet said it was so badly broken so there was no chance. We went for amputation. Anaesthetising rabbits is always dodgy anyway, but we went for it and it was successful. She’s now living as an indoor rabbit and is quite happily hopping around. That cost thousands… but it was that or put her sleep and she was a young healthy rabbit, so we just couldn’t, or wouldn’t!”

HAWs has a strict non-destruction policy and only ever allow euthanasia if an animal is too seriously ill or injured for any hope of recovery, or where its quality of life is clearly unsatisfactory.

Image above: Matt Smith and his pet cat Taboo – Matt is raising money for Hounslow Animal Welfare Society by running 10k on Sunday 3 March

Charity in need of donations

The charity is always looking for funds to help pay to look after animals in their care. Although all of its staff are volunteers, veterinary fees are in the excess of £5,000 per month. Other expenses include food and equipment, web hosting and management, printing etc.

The Chiswick Calendar’s reporter Matt Smith is running 10k to raise money for the charity this Sunday (3 March). You can support his donation drive here:


Every year HAWS takes in domestic animals, except dogs, which have found themselves in desperate situations, often facing death by starvation after being abandoned, their owners having moved away, lost their jobs/homes, been taken ill, died, or divorced.

Other unwanted animals are turned out after being thoughtlessly given as presents. Some come to the charity after being rescued from deliberate human neglect and cruelty. Still others are found injured after being hit by vehicles, caught on wire fencing, or hurt in other ways.

HAWS deals with hundreds, sometimes thousands of animals, many of these taken into care for eventual rehoming. Others are helped in various ways, most often with veterinary care.

Cats, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and other mammals all need the charity’s help – sometimes even ‘wild’ animals too. All domestic pets that pass through the charity are neutered.

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