While the shelter doesn’t often euthanize for space anymore, Operations Director Tammy Davis said there were a few instances last year where officials had to put down very young or sick kittens for space. From April to September, the shelter took in more than 2,000 cats and kittens, averaging more than 450 kittens per month during the spring and summer. Even with the space Davis converted into a nursery for kittens younger than 8 weeks old, she said she still found herself scrambling to find places to house all the cats that were brought in last year.
In the past month, Davis said the shelter has taken in 241 cats and kittens, and her nursery is full with 59 kittens. So she started a foster program in which community members can apply to foster kittens that are too young to be adopted.
“We don’t let anything leave the shelter without being spayed or neutered, so the youngest you can fix a kitten is either 8 weeks (old) or two pounds,” Davis explained. “So if you’re thinking about being a foster, it’s not a six-month obligation, it’s a couple weeks at a time depending on how old the kittens are.”
Once the kittens are old enough to be spayed or neutered, they’ll come back to the shelter to be put in the regular cat cages to be adopted. Davis said the shelter has applications for those who may be interested in taking on some kittens for a few weeks, either mother cats with young kittens or orphan kittens. While she said it would be helpful for foster families to provide food and cat litter, the shelter can help also help provide those needs.
Potential families with pets of their own are encouraged to keep their foster kittens in a separate space, like a spare room or a bathroom away from other pets, but Davis said the shelter can also provide large dog crates or cages.
Fostering kittens could also help with the overall health of animals at the shelter, Davis said, as the stress from being taken from the street to the animal shelter can trigger an upper respiratory virus outbreak, which has plagued the shelter in the past.
“It’s a lot healthier and better for the kittens to be in a home environment that way they can be socialized and it takes off the stress of being here at the shelter with all the other animals,” Davis said. “It just makes for a happier, healthier kitten if they can grow up in a foster home.”
Those unable to foster kittens can still help by contributing to the shelter’s kitten season wish list: dry kitten food (Kitten Chow, Purina One, Science Diet, Iams and Purina Pro Plan), canned kitten food (Purina Pro Plan, Fancy Feast and Iams), cat toys, non-clumping cat litter, kitten milk replacer powder, kitten nursing bottles, paper towels and laundry detergent.
And, as always, the best way to help with kitten season is to make sure all pets are fixed, even neighborhood and community cats.
Email Jessica Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.