THE number of unwanted pets in Hampshire has reached epidemic levels, it has been revealed.

Figures show that the county is overrun by stray and abandoned animals because owners can no longer afford to keep them.

Now the Blue Cross is calling on pet owners to stop the explosion in “disposable” pets by launching a neutering campaign.

It comes as cash-strapped owners have become amateur breeders to supplement their income, which has seen the dog and cat population has hit a high.

Just one unneutered female cat can produce 18 kittens a year and can end up with 20,000 descendants in just five years.

The Blue Cross rehoming centre in Bubb Lane, Southampton, said it is struggling to keep up with unwanted pets. The number of pets born at Blue Cross centres after their pregnant mothers were dumped has almost doubled in a year from 161 to 312.

And there has been a 70 per cent increase in abandoned kittens in the last 12 months.

Its Southampton centre is full – with 40 dogs and 60 cats – but there are more than 130 cats, 33 dogs and 14 rabbits on a waiting list. Manager Lara Alford said: “The fact that we’re seeing pets increasingly being treated like disposable items – abandoned outside our centre or dumped like rubbish – is shocking.

“The problem is there are simply too many animals for too few homes. Supply is greater than demand.”

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