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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 12:24 GMT
Animal shelters at bursting point
Sam the homeless cat
Thirteen-year-old Sam is at the Cats Protection Adoption Centre
Animal charities in Sussex have said the 2005 festive season was one of their worst ever, with record numbers of people abandoning unwanted pets.

The Cats Protection National Adoption Centre at Chelwood Gate near Haywards Heath is full and has a waiting list of 100 cats their owners want to re-home.

The RSPCA's animal shelter at Patcham, Brighton, is also at bursting point, with another 60 animals waiting.

The organisations are appealing for new homes and food and cash donations.

The Patcham shelter is caring for 50 dogs, 50 cats, about 30 rabbits and a similar number of other small animals.

The kittens go a lot quicker and that has a knock-on effect on the adult cats
Danielle Hart

The most recent victims of the festive season include 12 brown baby rabbits left outside two days before Christmas and two cats left on New Year's Eve.

"It seems to get worse every year," said manager Jenny Wells.

"I think a lot of people are making room for new animals.

"And this is the time of year when people just can't cope - and the animals are the first to go."

Haywards Heath Cats Protection staff member, Danielle Hart, said there were more kittens about this year.

"We had such a long summer and quite a long autumn and we tend to find then that the season will last a bit longer," she said.

"The kittens do go a lot quicker and that has a knock-on effect on the adult cats."

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