Urgent call for fosters as SPCA soon to expect more than 1,500 kittens per month
With summer fast approaching, SPCA Centres nationwide are bracing themselves for kitten season and the annual influx of cats and orphaned kittens in need.
The charity is pleading with animal lovers who may be able to offer felines a temporary home during the summer season, helping them heal, recover and grow before they are put up for adoption.
The first neonate kittens are already making appearances at SPCA Centres around the country, with numbers expected to increase exponentially in coming months.
Last summer, more than 1,500 kittens a month were coming into SPCA nationally, putting pressure on Centres already at capacity.
Stories like little Zim’s will surface many times over summer and be all too familiar to SPCA staff. Zim, a little ginger kitten, was found in a shed with his three siblings in Masterton. He was estimated to have been four days old and very underweight at just 90 grams. Zim’s mum couldn't be trapped so the litter came into SPCA's care and, sadly, his siblings didn’t make it. Such vulnerable animals, like Zim, need SPCA's help and – once ready – benefit from a foster environment until they are ready for their forever home.
Luckily for Zim, one of SPCA’s staff members, Rachel Norman, has fostered the neonate – with her own adopted SPCA dog also taking a keen interest in caring for him.
General Operations Manager, Sue Kinsella, says foster parents are needed year-round for dogs, but SPCA's greatest need for feline fosterers is during the busy summer months, when cat breeding season sees huge numbers of kittens being born unwanted.
“The last few years have been extremely chaotic with feline numbers,” says Ms Kinsella. “This year we’re adding to this with an overpopulation of dogs around the country – before we’ve even begun to feel the effects of kitten season. There’s no doubt our resources are being stretched to the limit.
“SPCA recently launched a two-year desexing campaign to combat this very issue of overpopulation of companion animals in New Zealand, which results in thousands of animals ending up homeless or neglected every year.
We’re aiming to desex more than 30,000 animals over the two-year period, and are always pressing for people to have their pets desexed – but while we still see these high numbers of unwanted animals, we need foster heroes to step in and help out.”
SPCA provides all food, medication and equipment so there is very little cost to the fosterer. All that’s needed is their time and love. Those who foster also share that the benefits often extend to them – getting a sense of purpose, love, entertainment and learning opportunities. Having animals in foster homes is not only better for their welfare, but it helps SPCA Centres to free up more space to be able to help the most vulnerable animals in our communities.
“If you’re not planning on travelling this summer, why not think about taking in a furry family member for a period of time?” continues Ms Kinsella. “Fostering is incredibly rewarding on so many levels. Being in a shelter can be stressful and some of our animals don’t cope as well as others, so spending time in foster care is hugely beneficial. It teaches them social skills and their first experience of what a home environment is like.”
SPCA’s callout emphasises the fact that fostering is something almost everyone can do. No matter if you work full-time, have kids or pets, share your space with flat mates (with landlord permission) or are only able to commit for a few weeks – the charity is asking people to consider a temporary furry addition to their household.
People who are interested can apply via the SPCA website.