SPCA braces for 25,000 lives to arrive during ‘kitten season’
Coinciding with the warmer summer months, kitten season is when cats breed and vulnerable cats and kittens end up at SPCA needing help, stretching resources at SPCA shelters to the very limit.
Last year, SPCA saw more than 9,886 cats and 17,348 kittens arrive at centres in need of help. Centres predict this number will be similar this summer.
“While kitten season is the cutest time of year with so many babies being born, the impact on our centres, resources and staff is enormous. Every year we are forced to hire extra staff just to manage,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.
In Auckland at SPCA’s Mangere Centre, the peak of kitten season can see up to 400 cats and kittens needing foster homes. The centre has already begun preparations for this busy period, while SPCA’s Wellington Centre is currently has more than 157 felines in its care.
Surprisingly, SPCA’s Christchurch Centre is full already with 294 cats and kittens compared with 212 this time last year, which is almost a 40% increase.
“This is indicative of how kitten season is starting earlier than ever. Typically, the season runs over summer, but we’ve seen kittens arrive as early as September right up until June,” says Andrea.
“Many kittens that arrive to us have been abandoned, neglected, are desperately sick, or very young. Some have had tough a tough start to life, we’ve seen day old kittens were rescued from under a spa pool, a pregnant mum was dumped at one centre in a chilly bin, and another litter of kittens was dumped in a bush off a deserted highway.”
“We do our very best for every animal that comes to us. Sadly, the reality is that some animals are too sick or injured - and they don’t make it.”
Before a kitten can be adopted at eight weeks old, they require round-the-clock care, veterinary treatment, and somewhere warm to snuggle, eat, and be monitored. Kittens make up 75 percent of all animals brought into centres and caring for each litter costs SPCA approximately $500.
“Every animal that is adopted from SPCA has been desexed, which helps prevent unwanted litters being born into a lifetime of struggle and suffering. Pet owners wanting to help SPCA should get their pets desexed too. It is our hope that one day kitten season will be less of a problem,” says Andrea.