It is that season again; the time of year when animal shelters and rescue groups around the country are overwhelmed with kittens.
Manatee County Animal Services is no exception.
Every single day, they arrive: pregnant cats, mother cats with newborns and stray newborns from one to six weeks old.
The orphans are hungry and they mew for comfort as the staff works around the clock to feed and care for them. No sooner do we place a litter with a foster family, than another one comes to take its place.
It is official; Kitten Season is here.
Consider that a female cat can have two to three litters starting when the female cat is just 6 months old. With an average of four to six kittens per litter, that is a lot of newborns.
At Manatee County Animal Services we are feeling the strain right now. We can't adopt the kittens into forever homes until they are at least 8 weeks old and we can't house
them either. To meet ourNo-Kill goals, we must have help from the community.
Fortunately, we have some wonderful Feline Foster Families who are pitching in to help with these newborns.
One such volunteer, Nancy Van Hoven, started fostering back in 1998. She learned how to bottle-feed and has thoroughly enjoyed watching her charges thrive.
Another foster, Sue Keyes, confines her kittens during the day, but at night she lets them loose and laughs out loud at their crazy kitten antics.
Feline foster Debbie Deleon is helping with our bottle babies, kittens too young to eat solid foods. They are the size of mice, but with Debbie's help, they will all survive and find great homes soon.
Debra Matthews and Jamie McGraw have their share of kittens, too. Matthews has fostered 97 cats and kittens in just one year!
Our Feline Foster Homes have stepped up, but they are all at their kitten limit right now. We desperately need more foster homes to keep up with the constant demand.
We offer kitten care mentoring to provide new foster families with the knowledge and support they need.
No experience is necessary; just willingness, compassion and desire to make a real difference and become part of a caring community.
Most importantly, if your cat is not spayed or neutered, please don't delay. Spaying or neutering will not change the personality or physical shape of your cat.
Neutering a male cat can reduce aggressive behavior and spraying.
Sterilized cats tend to live longer since the risk of many cancer and other disorders is prevented or reduced.
There are many low-cost or free programs available.
To help curb Kitten Season, the Humane Society of Manatee County is offering a special spay and neuter rate to owners of unsterilized cats.
Please call the Humane Society at 941-747-8808, ext. 302, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
Mention this column and get a special discounted rate.
The Humane Society clinic is open to everyone and also offers free surgery to income-qualified individuals or those on any type of government assistance.
Other organizations such as Animal Rescue Coalition offer free and low-cost spay and neuter operations and their Mobile Clinic travels to multiple locations in Manatee County. ARC can be reached at 941-957-1965.
If you can help raise some kittens or house a nursing or pregnant mother cat, please contact Megahan Simpson at Manatee County Animal Services at 941-742-5933, ext. 8314, or email email@example.com.
If you are a business owner, consider adopting a "cat around town" to live at your place of business. We will even post a picture of your storefront and kitty at our Downtown Adoption Center.
If you don't want to adopt a cat quite yet, we have an alternative for you.
Foster a cat at your business or sponsor it for a client to adopt. A cat could add that final touch your office may desperately need.
Watch for upcoming events and adoption specials.
Don't forget the ongoing BOGO special where you can adopt a dog or cat at the regular adoption fee and get a dog or cat for no adoption fee.
If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky.
One day, we all would like to be lucky, too.
Check out Manatee County Animal Services on Facebook. Like us and share us with all your friends.
Our website at mymanatee.org/petshas a wealth of information, including your new family member for adoption.
Call 941-742-5933 for information.
Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Herald.