A BUNNY isn’t just for Easter – it’s for life.
That is the message from Sidlesham’s Cat and Rabbit Rescue Centre, which has 34 rabbits ready to be rehomed.
But it isn’t just the rabbits in need of a new home – they have 17 guinea pigs and more than 200 cats and kittens waiting to be welcomed into a new family.
Claire Hyde, centre liaison officer, said people often have the misconception rescue animals must have something wrong with them, but really there are many different reasons behind it: “People moving house and just leaving them, or they’ve gone out and bought a pet which has been incorrectly sexed and they end up with eight more.
“Sometimes children outgrow them and we have had kittens which have been born here. There are lots of different reasons,” she said.
The elderly going into nursing homes and children’s allergies are two other reasons people might take their pet to a rescue centre.
“We are open and honest if there is something wrong,” said Claire.
In addition to the furry felines waiting to be rehomed, there are 40 cats resident at the centre.
Claire said support from the Observer helped find homes for 22 cats at a January open day, and volunteers are hoping to raise awareness again with a rehoming day for rabbits on Easter Sunday.
The centre holds open days for rabbits and guinea pigs every Sunday from 2pm–3.30pm, where anyone can visit without an appointment. This Sunday is no different, with an open day to mark the Easter holiday, with families welcome to visit the centre and offer a pair of Easter bunnies a new home.
“We only rehome bunnies in pairs,” said Claire. “It is a way of life for them.”
The reason for this, she said, is so the rabbits don’t get lonely. But the centre has many friendly pairs, including Spaghetti and Tagliatelle.
Staff and volunteers also give advice on the right accommodation for animals and how to look after them.
“All of our animals are subject to a home visit but we try to do that as quickly as possible,” said Claire.
The centre asks for a donation for each animal rehomed, as they vaccinate, spay and neuter the animals, and microchip the cats, which is expensive. But Claire stressed they are a not-for-profit charity which is ‘always running on a loss’.
“It costs us more than what we ask for in donations,” she said. “It is a charity and we really rely on volunteers and donations. There is always something else to raise money for.”
Claire said the centre often has to turn animals away when they are up to capacity – which they are close to now.
“We are struggling, we can’t take in what we are offered. We need to rehome them so we can help others. That is the biggest thing for us,” she said.
The centre started from founder Monique Turk’s home 26 years ago and it has grown and grown over the years.
“But we still can’t help all the animals,” Claire said.
That is why rehoming open days are so important. As a rule, prospective owners make an appointment at the centre to pick a pet, but on the open days anyone can have their perfect pet on the spot.
The centre also has an in-house vet who will neuter and spay cats and rabbits for a small charge if owners can’t afford vets’ fees.
“Our biggest problem is people not getting their cats neutered and spayed,” said Claire.
People who don’t get the procedure done often end up with unwanted kittens, and this puts more pressure on rescue centres. Pet stores getting the sex of rabbits wrong is another problem, Claire said, as people think they’ve got two boys, and they end up with dozens of babies.
Visit www.crrc.co.uk for more information on how to rehome an animal and for the centre’s spay and neutering services.