About 200 cats' lives saved through Stewart Street Veterinary Hospital program

HOME DELIVERY: Kathryn Haythorpe with one of the kittens being offered for adoption at Stewart Street Veterinary Hospital. 040117cat2

HOME DELIVERY: Kathryn Haythorpe with one of the kittens being offered for adoption at Stewart Street Veterinary Hospital. 040117cat2

ABOUT 200 cats have been adopted from Stewart Street Veterinary Hospital in the past two years, saving them from euthanasia.

But too many cats continue to be put down at the vet hospital, and around Australia, due to irresponsible pet ownership, according to the adoption program’s driving force Kathryn Haythorpe.

Stewart Street Veterinary Hospital is best-known for clinic cat Buttons, a British Shorthair and Persian cross who has his own social media following, but has been quietly kicking goals over recent years with its adoption program.

The vet hospital is contracted to euthanise cats – and dogs - that end up at the pound, but that is always the last resort.

“If they are healthy and have got a good temperament, we put them [cats] up for adoption,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“We desex, microchip, vaccinate, worm and flea them.”

Vet hospital staff members take the cats home to make sure they are good with children and other animals, and there is a quarantine period to ensure the cats don’t bring a disease into their new owner’s home.

“I really pride myself on trying to make the cats that come out of the program lovely, nice cats in good health,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“We make sure they get good socialisation skills. They know where the litter is, they don't scratch the table.

”When you handle them, they are relaxed and purry. People immediately form a bond with them.”

Ms Haythorpe puts the popularity of the cat adoption program down to its visibility: through a display case in the vet hospital’s reception area and a special section of the hospital’s website.

But not all the cats can be saved.

“There are always some that we can't find room for,” she said. “They are healthy, nice, but we literally don't have space to save them.”

It’s the hardest part of her job as a vet nurse, Ms Haythorpe said.

“You’ll get this animal - beautiful, good-natured, it’s done nothing wrong, apart from not having a home - and you’ll have to put it down,” she said.

“It’s heartbreaking to have to put down so many cats.”

Ms Haythorpe said there had been a shift in thinking in the past 10 years towards adoption rather than buying cats from breeders or pet stores.

“The message really is ‘adopt, don’t shop’,” she said.

Adoption cats sell at Stewart Street Veterinary Hospital for $145 or $250 for two.

Desexing alone, Ms Haythorpe said, would normally cost $210. 

Plus, there’s the opportunity to make a difference in an animal’s life.

“If you get one of these cats, you are saving a life,” she said.

Heartbreaking to have to put down so many cats.

Vet nurse Kathryn Haythorpe