'Huge number' of feral cats neutered in Somerset
A "huge number" of feral cats were caught and neutered in Somerset last year, a cat charity has revealed.
Volunteers at Cats Protection in Taunton and Wellington trapped and neutered 109 feral cats and kittens in 2019, almost twice as many as in 2018.
The charity said: "The main site was a farm where, over about eight months, we trapped 36 cats."
Nearly half the neutered cats were relocated to farms, smallholdings and stables for "rodent control".
Feral cats, according to Cats Protection, are a "highly efficient" and "environmentally friendly alternative" to chemical pest control.
But with a cat able to have up to 18 kittens a year, and offspring able to have kittens after just four months, feral cat colonies can quickly "get out of hand".
David Manners, co-ordinator of the Taunton and Wellington branch, said it was not known what the county's feral cat population is but its small team of volunteers had trapped a "huge number of cats in 2019".
"A lot of farms have a feral cat colony but the rate of reproduction can snowball very quickly if they're breeding," he said.
"So farmers are calling us saying they have cats everywhere and can we help."
'Big rat problems'
He said the charity had also seen an increase in demand for feral cats and had relocated more than 40 across Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Cornwall.
"In 2019 we had more requests to provide feral cats then we have ever done," he said.
"Having cats working on the farm is a very valuable resource but we're relocating quite a lot of them now.
"But we've had terrific feedback from smallholdings with big rat problems. Within a few weeks the rat population is zero, with cats doing what they do naturally."