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  • Local shelters overwhelmed with number of kittens

    Jun 03, 2019 | Read More News
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    Picture of catAll of the cat shelters in Pima County are overrun with kittens and are urging people to leave litters alone, unless they are in imminent danger.

    Pima Animal Care Center has taken in 986 kittens since the beginning of the year, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona is caring for 288 kittens, and The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary has 145 kittens in foster care and 160 cats at their shelter. PACC and HSSAZ both have community cat programs to spay and neuter free roaming cats, but there are still very high numbers of kittens coming into all area cat shelters.

    “We are in crisis mode,” said Kristen Hassen-Auerbach, Director of Animal Services at PACC. “We have had almost 1,000 kittens in our care with dozens more arriving each day.”

    There are a couple of factors adding to this boom of babies. The warmer months make up breeding season. Cats can become pregnant at as early as four months old and can go back into heat very quickly after giving birth. The size of a litter varies, but on average it’s about four to six kittens. 

    The overcrowding at these local shelters is also due, in part, to well-meaning citizens who bring kittens to the shelter that they believe are abandoned. Mother cats, called queens, will leave their litter several times a day to get food. Unless the kittens are in imminent danger, their best chance at survival is staying with their mother. People can monitor the kittens overnight to see how they are doing by sprinkling baking soda in a circle around them. After a day or so, check to see if paw prints have disturbed the circle. That means mom is keeping an eye on them.

    “It’s in our nature to want to help, but the best course of action is to wait, watch and see if mom comes back,” said Brandy Burke, Chief Operations Officer at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. “Currently all organizations are looking for foster volunteers willing to care for the hundreds of kittens that are already in our charge.”

    Until they are about 8 weeks old, kittens are very dependent on their mother. When they are younger than that, it’s difficult for them to survive without mom, even with round-the-clock care. Alley Cat Allies has an informative diagram about the age of kittens. 

    Karen Baden, Executive Director at Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary said, “This is one of our busiest time of year, and we need all the help we can get from our community.  Best way to keep population down is through spay and neuter.”

    There are a number of ways to help. Each shelter is in need of fosters for these kittens and queens. All three are also offering up special events. Cats are free to adopt at PACC for the month of June as part of “Adopt a Shelter Cat Month.”  The Hermitage has several upcoming events like the Kitten Shower on June 22, as well as the Humane Society.