Too much of a cute thing: The Gulf Coast Humane Society and other area shelters need your help in the coming months.
By: Kaitlin Calk
There is no doubt about it: Kittens are adorable. They are tiny and fuzzy, and their little meows are like music to many. Now imagine these little fuzz-balls being born by the hundreds (possibly by the thousands) all across the United States, within the span of just a few months. While this may sound like the fever-dream of a cat fanatic, unfortunately it is a nightmarish reality called “kitten season,” and it is way too much of a cute thing.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, kitten season is actually three seasons in one, starting in spring, peaking in late spring or early summer and ending in fall. During this time of year, animal shelters and rescue groups become inundated with unwanted litters that need around-the-clock care. This problem will not fix itself, and even with assistance from the public, it will not be righted overnight. However, with your help, we will be headed in the right direction.
One way you can help is to get your cat spayed or neutered, and to inform your feline-loving friends about the benefits of getting their cats fixed. Unaltered cats, driven by hormones, will try their very hardest to find a mate. A female cat can become pregnant at just 5 months old, and an average cat has one to eight kittens per litter and two to three litters per year. Preventing one female cat from reproducing may not seem like much, but when you take into consideration how many subsequent kittens her offspring could have in their lifetimes, the long-term benefits become clear.
Cost can be a major factor in the decision to get your cat fixed, and there are many low-cost sterilization options right here in the Coastal Bend. The Cattery MASH clinic, People Assisting Animal Control (PAAC) and Corpus Christi Animal Care and Control Services all offer low-cost or even free sterilization.
During kitten season, the Gulf Coast Humane Society (GCHS) and other area shelters and rescues receive several phone calls a day about bringing in a litter of kittens that were found with no mother in sight. Due to limited space and a lack of readily available caregivers, we are forced to turn away these kittens. We know they have almost no chance of surviving if left to fend for themselves, and it breaks our hearts, but due to that lack of resources, there is nothing we can do. One of the biggest ways the public can help save these kittens is to become a foster for GCHS or another shelter in your area.
At GCHS, “bottle baby” and “mush baby” fosters are provided with all necessary food, supplies and veterinary care until they are ready to be sterilized and put out into our adoption area. Inexperienced fosters are provided with training, and all fosters are able to contact our foster care coordinator directly with any questions or to arrange for emergency care.
The best solution for the madness that is kitten season is to have all cats, including strays and feral cats, sterilized. This is a massive undertaking, and it would take years for something of that magnitude to become a reality. In the meantime, all we can do is try to help the blameless fur babies that are born this time of year.
Fostering young or newborn kittens is no easy task, but without these compassionate people, countless kittens would die every year. It requires a lot of time, some sleepless nights and hard work, but it is well worth the effort. As difficult as this particular kind of fostering can be, seeing the little-fuzz balls learn how to walk and play, and eventually find their forever home, is an incredible experience.
To learn more about the foster care program at the Gulf Coast Humane Society, visit www.gchscc.org or call 361-225-0845.
Photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Humane Society