Urgent call for summer foster volunteers as SPCA braces for kitten tsunami
SPCA is calling on Kiwis to open their homes to animals in need this summer, as the charity urgently seeks hundreds of new foster volunteers in preparation for what’s expected to be the busiest kitten season ever.
Despite being so early in the season, pregnant cats and kittens are already streaming into SPCA Centres around the country, with some Centres seeing a record number of newborns compared to the same time in previous years.
SPCA Chief executive Andrea Midgen says it’s an early glimpse of what’s to come and is asking people who can temporarily care for an animal to please consider fostering.
“We’ve already had an influx of newborn kittens and right now, and it feels like we’re standing on the beach watching the tide go out while we wait for the tsunami to hit,” says Ms Midgen. “We know we’re going to need as many foster volunteers as possible this summer, so that we can have the space in our Centres to help as many of these vulnerable animals as we can.”
Research shows welfare outcomes are better for animals that spend time in a home environment, rather than shelters. SPCA’s foster parents provide a temporary home for animals that need additional care, treatment or socialisation before they’re ready to be desexed and put up for adoption. All food, medication and equipment is provided for the duration of the animals’ stay, as well as free vet care, training and ongoing support.
SPCA is especially on the lookout for people who can commit to fostering neonate kittens this summer, which need special care due to their age and size. These are very young kittens that require bottle feeding every few hours and can’t be left alone for long periods of time.
“While fostering neonate kittens can feel a bit like caring for a newborn baby, with the demanding feeding routines, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences to watch these tiny, delicate animals grow into healthy, strong kittens that then go on to find their forever homes,” says Ms Midgen.
If people are unable to look after neonate kittens, SPCA has hundreds of other animals that will require time in foster homes this summer. With many New Zealanders working from home and spending more time in their bubbles, there’s never been a better time to foster.
“It’s been an unsettling few weeks recently and I know caring for an animal has helped many people cope with the uncertainties brought by the COVID-19 Delta outbreak,” says Ms Midgen. “Anyone who’s spent time with animals will know just how comforting it can be to hear a kitten purr or to pat a dog, and fostering is a great way to experience this companionship without the long-term commitment of adopting.”
Many of the animals arriving at SPCA Centres have been born without homes as a result of unplanned litters. Desexing, which is the surgical removal of part of an animals’ reproductive system, prevents unplanned litters and protects the parents from a variety of health issues. SPCA recently experienced its longest kitten season ever and is expecting an even busier season this summer, in part due to desexing being put on hold or reduced during COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Desexing is the single most powerful tool we have for reducing the number of unwanted and stray animals in our communities, and I’m asking owners to please, please desex their pets as soon as possible, so that no animal is born without a home,” says MsMidgen.
Fostering at SPCA:
- All SPCA foster parents receive training and ongoing support from Centre teams.
- All food, bedding, toys and everything else to make the animals comfortable is supplied
- Opening a home on a temporary basis foran animal is a great way to rescue an animal in need.
People who are interested in becoming a foster volunteer can apply via SPCA’s website.