A.D.O.P.T. prepares for deluge of kittens as spring arrives
By Linda Kane, A.D.O.P.T. volunteer
April 28, 2011
Alvin, Simon and Theodore are just three of the kittens now available at A.D.O.P.T. Pet Shelter in Naperville (photo by J. Potts).
The change of seasons can fascinate the senses: Daffodils lace neighborhood yards, birds chirp happily, buds pop from once-barren tree branches.
And kittens inundate local animal shelters.
No doubt about it; spring has arrived!
Rich Glessner, director of operations at Animals Deserving of Proper Treatment (A.D.O.P.T.) in Naperville says shelters “could theoretically double their pet population in the summer” because of an influx of kittens.
Last year Glessner said A.D.O.P.T. housed almost 250 kittens in the summer months alone.
And this year won’t be any different.
“We are expecting kitten season to be worse this year,” Glessner said. “We got a whole bunch of pregnant cats early this year to where we now have in foster [care] alone between 30-40 kittens, and we’re not even to May yet.
“Our fosters are already loaded. If that’s any indication of what this summer is going to be like, it’s going to be very bad.”
Bad, you say? But kittens are such cute little bundles of fur!
“Ya, they’re cute, but they grow up really fast, and then they reproduce,” said A.D.O.P.T. volunteer Kathy Adams who has served as a cat foster “mom” for approximately five years.
Grow up fast, you say? Indeed!
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), fertile female cats can produce three litters of kittens a year. At the age of only six months, each female kitten can also reproduce.
“In approximately seven years, one cat can produce more than 250,000 cats,” Glessner said.
“We need to concentrate on spay/neuter,” Adams said. “The public needs to know it is much cheaper to spay/neuter a cat than it is to eradicate a colony of established cats or keep feeding and housing them.”
The ASPCA agrees, stating, “The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.”
Cat/kitten foster “mom” Betty Weiler, who also volunteers at A.D.O.P.T. on Wednesday evenings, says “a lot of animal controls are now getting in pregnant cats and sending them to us, too.
“Usually on Wednesdays we do about three or four cat spays/neuters, but during kitten season (March through October) we’ll do about 12 kitten spay/neuters on Wednesdays.”
Is it any surprise, then, that implications for the pet shelter are mammoth?
“When you take in all these kittens, your costs go up dramatically,” Glessner said. “Instead of one mouth, you’re feeding five; instead of one vaccine for one adult cat, you’re providing three or four vaccines for one kitten.
“Your medical costs go up by three or four times (the normal amount), and your food costs can quadruple.”
In addition, the cost of daily care increases. “It’s a lot harder cleaning up after five kittens than one cat, so the time spent by volunteers and staff increases,” Glessner said.
A.D.O.P.T.’s facility can comfortably accommodate just under 30 kittens, Glessner said. “Going over that, [we’d] have to stack them in (cages in the) halls or (clear out) other cat community rooms to put them in, and that gets more difficult.”
Meanwhile, A.D.O.P.T.’s cat/kitten foster “moms” continue to take the overflow of felines into their homes.
“I love to sit down, and two or three kittens crawl up [my] leg while [I’m] holding mom and petting her,” Weiler said. “It’s a very positive feedback. I don’t think kittens have any ability to give negative feedback.”
And Adams added, “Seeing a mother’s love is fascinating.”
Every bit as fascinating as the spring daffodils, birds and tree buds.
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