Abandoned kittens cause euthanasia problem for local shelter
Local volunteers are gearing up spring and a time of year when their dropped off and abandoned kitten population grows exponentially.
"Tis the season for kittens," said Carbon County Animal Shelter Volunteer Kristy Woodhouse. "This in an unfortunate time for the shelter and volunteers because most of the kittens taken in at early ages could have been saved by some easy strategies."
According to Woodhouse, the best thing to do is to prevent the situation in the first place by spaying or neutering the cats.
"Additionally, if you find kittens that look abandoned you need to patient," she explained. "You need to wait, watch and see if their mother is nearby."
Woodhouse warned anyone finding a feral cat to take caution and obtain a trap before attempting to bring the animal to the shelter.
"Just bringing in the kittens makes it hard on the mother and her babies," she said. "It is always best to keep the kittens with their mother as long as possible. If you find one that looks like it is in need then keep it warm with a water bottle filled with warm water until you can figure out what you are going to do with it."
Don't feed the kittens cows milk, stressed Woodhouse. As this will cause more harm than good to the newborn cat. Keep the area clean and wash hands before and after handling the cats as they can become sick very easily.
"There are many good resources on the Internet that can explain the cycle and tell you how to care for newborn kittens, she noted. According to about.com, rescue workers dread "kitten season" because it means that the influx of newborn kittens will lead to increased euthanasia and a decrease in the chance of adoption for older cats. March through September is often referred to a breeding season.
Cats are known as polyestrus, which means that they will go into heat cycles periodically during their fertile years. These heat cycles may start as early as the fourth or fifth month of a kitten's life and will continue until she is either bred or spayed.
"No one can say with any accuracy that heat cycles are painful to cats; however, from the calling and other symptoms they exhibit, it would appear that they are very uncomfortable," states the site.
When pets don't get fixed, it causes a chain reaction that many do not realize, said Woodhouse. It costs the county money to care for these animals, money that comes directly from the tax payers pocket book, she continues.
The Carbon County Shelter had to euthanize 877 dogs and cats out of the 1,789 that were brought in during 2008.
"This included pets that were adoptable," said Woodhouse. "They weren't just numbers, they were cute, cuddly, affectionate, man's best friend, mousers, snuggly lap warmers and the perfect guard pets. There is no excuse good enough to bring a pet into this world and let them end up unwanted and lonely at a shelter or wandering the streets fending for themselves."
"Statistics will tell you that more pets that are given away for free end up in a shelter," she continued. "That is not to say that purebred dogs never end here, the county facility receives animals of all size and breed, because even the most cautious of breeders will end up having stock that is dropped off at our shelter."
According to Woodhouse, this is the very reason she became involved at the shelter in the first place, she believes spaying and neutering pets is appropriate in almost all cases.
"I used to breed and sell animals myself," she said in an interview at the Sun Advocate on Tuesday. "But when I started seeing the animals I was bringing into this world ending up at the shelter I thought to myself, no more."
To Woodhouse, a responsible pet owner needs to make a commitment to their pets as if entering into a marriage and also believes that taking an animal to the shelter should only be used as a last option if no other home can be found.
She also recommended adopting from the shelter if looking for a pet, stating that obtaining a pet from the shelter and paying their spay and neuter fee is often less expensive than buying a pet from someone else and then paying veterinarian to perform the procedure.
"If you would like to keep our local euthanasia numbers down," she concluded, "you need to understand the responsibility humans have to help pets finds the good homes that they deserve."