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Not looking forward to the start of kitten season....

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
This is the one thing I HATE about being a volunteer. I was lucky last year in that I started at the tail end of kitten season, so I wasn't exposed to the brunt of the horror.

The facts are this. Last year we had 4,000 cats dumped at our shelter. That's a thousand more than the year before. So by those standards, we're looking at close to 5,000 cats and kittens to be dumped this year alone.

It gets so bad during kitten season that it's a lucky week if we get less than 120 dumped.

Keep in mind we only get about 500 cats and kittens adopted every year. You do the math....

Please, I need just a little support. I don't know anyone else I can talk to about this. I usually volunteer to help with the drop-offs, because no one else is willing. I don't know if they'll be changing things this year, but I hope they do, and I won't have to deal with this. But it doesn't help that I still know about it. I never should have asked in the first place....
post #2 of 28
On the private sector, there is still impact. Quickly my home and other rescuers in this area fill up. The phone rings repeatedly and we network together- "do you have room at your home? I just had four kittens dropped on the doorstep.." "Have you got enough formula? I just got a donation of a case of KMR do you need some?"

All people have to do is SPAY AND NEUTER their cats- that's it. Such an easy thing to do to cancel out all the heartache. All the kittens born of kittens, all the disease taking its toll, rescuers sacrificing sleep so that the kittens can be bottle fed round the clock...all they have to do is spay and neuter.

It is hard enough to experience the death of the kittens when you are trying so hard to save them. I can't imagine what it must be like for you, knowing that cats and kittens are being destroyed in record numbers. My heart just hopes yours stays strong-
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much, Hissy. I know it's going to be a busy few months for you as well.

What I can't understand is that we've been running a spay and neuter program for over 15 years. For the past 3 years in a row, we've been fixing over 400 cats a month! That's almost 5,000 fixed every year. (We'd do more, but we don't have enough vets.) Yet the numbers of dropped cats keeps rising. I don't get it. I would think by now things would level off. From what I understand, people drive over an hour to leave cats at our shelter, because we have a "don't ask" policy.

We also don't have many foster homes. Only about 10 at last count. People kept adopting their fosters (which isn't really a bad thing) and no new families have joined up. I can't even foster because one of the kittens I fostered had distemper. I have to wait until next year before I can safely bring home unvaccinated kittens.
post #4 of 28
Your efforts do make a difference. 500 adoptions a year means you have a good group that works together. You are doing the right thing but also make sure you don't burn out. Best wishes to you!
post #5 of 28
Wodesorel,
Keep up the good work! It breaks my heart every day knowing that cats (and dogs too for that matter) are euthanized every minute. It can be really depressing. During seasons that are particularly bad, you just have to keep your mind on the ones that you save! One life saved is better than none...and 500 lives saved is better than 1!! The only thing that gets me through is focusing on the good that comes out of the success stories. This year, at least in New Mexico for our organization, kitten season never really ended. We have less than we had 6 months ago during the peak of kitten season, but it seems like this year it just hasn't ceased! I commend you for volunteering at a shelter. I honestly don't think I could do it. The rescue group I work for actually rescues from the shelters (in addition to owner relinquishes). We are fortunately able to keep the cats we take in until they find a good home. Unfortunately, if we get overloaded it means that we can't take anymore in so they probably will get euthanized at the county shelters. It's so unfortunate that animals have to lose their lives everyday because of irresponsible owners not spaying and neutering their animals!
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Well, the cats that are given a clean bill of health, pass temperment testing, and find room either in our shelter or in foster care are with us until we find them a home. With us it's all or nothing. It's not like we put all these cats on display, and then put them to sleep after a week, like they do at the pound. Once we're sure there's room for them, they're vaccinated, spayed and neutered, and are cared for by the vet staff if they get sick. We also don't use cages, it's a free-roaming shelter.

It's easy for a lot of volunteers, because they can fall in love with a cat, and if need be, work for months to get it adopted. Because once it's in the shelter, it's staying until adopted, even if it's returned a few years down the line.

But, when they needed help downstairs, I was exposed to the other side of things. I don't even mention it to the upstairs volunteers, they're too emotional to handle it, which I guess is a good thing. The one thing I will say is that we do have a kind of support group among the volunteers, because we've learned that our family's can't deal with it when we talk about it.

Thank you.
post #7 of 28
Wow, that is great that you are able to keep them until they are adopted. It's sad that the pound has to put animals to sleep after a week on display or so. I know that animal services here in Albuquerque has to do that. You are so lucky that you have a free roaming shelter!!! I wish we could do that...boy, wouldn't it be nice for the kitties! Yes, I say stay upstairs at all costs...I would be in that emotional group that couldn't handle it after a while
post #8 of 28
The weather has been 'mild'...so we are already at the beginning of kitten season....and already, our cat adoptions are down as people are looking for kittens. sigh.

Katie
post #9 of 28
I have a friend that cannot understand why I help and foster so much when it hurts so bad sometimes. But, I know that whether or not I help these animals would still be in trouble. It's so good that you help out, and I always try to hope that things will get better, and then you will be there to see it and know you did a good thing. It's hard, but I try to look at what I do accomplish and not what I can't. And if it's too hard on you, you don't get any prizes for burning yourself out.

*supports*
post #10 of 28
Does the shelter track its intake and spay/neuter? If you are doing 400 spays and neuters a month, you should see an impact - so if numbers keep going up, it's important to evaluate why your spay/neuter program is not working. Maybe there is no eligibility requirement so most of the folks you are serving are middle-class people who are looking for a bargain but would have s/n anyway...or maybe you are not advertising your services in a way that reaches the folks in the low-income part of town who really need your services.

It seems, too, that if people are coming from an hour away because your shelter offers "no questions asked" relinquishments, it might be time to ask questions! I'm not saying that you should not take in every animal or that you should require a donation, but an interview and paperwork from every relinquisher just makes sense. That way, you know where the animals are coming from (so you can target your spay/neuter efforts at places where a lot of your relinquishments come from), find out if the people who dumped a litter of kittens have the parents at home (so you can get them to bring the parents for spay/neuter), and in general you can educate these folks about what it means to be a responsible pet owner and let them know that while you are willing to take the animal, the chances of his being adopted are really not good and he will probably be killed. A lot of people simply don't know that huge numbers of healthy, friendly shelter animals are killed, and I think we do them a disservice by implying to them that if they give the animal to the shelter, he will find another, better home.
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
With the new policy, there is a huge sign stating that all dumps (it's an unmanned room with cages) will be put to sleep, and that 10 dollars will cover the cost the shot and disposal.

It doesn't stop people. And they actually leave the money.

The program is supposed to be for strays only. Sure, some people sneak their pets through. But with the shelter policy of putting any animal to sleep that tests positive for FIV or felv immediately, not many owners are willing to chance it when they can go to their own vet who will fix the animal no matter if it's diseased or not. Besides, you should see the conditions and temperments of the cats. Believe me, they're not from middle-class homes.
post #12 of 28
It's too bad that the shelter requires FeLV/FIV testing for every cat who is brought in for sterilization. This costs a lot of money and goes against the recommendations of pretty much all the experts on the subject, including Alley Cat Allies and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. If you stopped requiring testing, you could conceivably double the number of cats you sterilized.

The AAFP's position statement on free-roaming and feral cats, including testing recommendations: http://www.aafponline.org/positionstate.htm (it's the last one on the page)

From Alley Cat Allies: http://www.alleycat.org/pdf/test.pdf
Note especially the statistics from Operation Catnip, where they compared statistics from when they were testing and killing vs. not testing. Their numbers indicated that testing and killing actually resulted in more FeLV positive cats in the community because the primary means of transmission is from mother to kitten, so the biggest way to slow the spread of FeLV is to stop FeLV cats from reproducing - but testing was so cumbersome that it significantly reduced the number of cats they could have sterilized.

It sounds like it might be a very good idea to expand your spay/neuter services to the demographic groups that are doing most of the dumping. Strays and ferals do make up the biggest component of cat overpopulation, but my experience is that low-income people account for most of the shelter relinquishments and consequent euthanasias. So I think it's really important to target both. After all, if you are not targeting the same constituents who are relinquishing animals for your spay/neuter services, it stands to reason that you won't see any decline in intake numbers.
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
I think that after 20 years, the people in charge of the shelter know this and have tried this. They advertise on the local news every week, and in the newpaper daily. It's reaching everyone.

It's not like aren't accepting cats. The people who call get put on a list, and the wait list is filled for an entire month ahead of time. But we never turn anyone down.

And the reason we test is so these animals aren't released back into the general population. Just because they're positive doesn't mean the people who brought them in are going to care for them. Even if they are pets, if they're using our low-cost clinic, then they probably don't have the means to be able to care for sick pet. Sure, the tests are 100% conclusive, but I can understand why the shelter doesn't want to take the risk.
post #14 of 28
Right, but if the clinic only accepts strays and people are giving up their pets and their pets' offspring - then it's not reaching the animals who need it.

Take a closer look at the links I provided re: testing. There are very specific reasons listed about why testing isn't a good use of resoures and why killing positive animals doesn't do anything to protect the general cat population. As I said, the Alley Cat Allies link includes information from Operation Catnip that indicates that testing and killing vs. not testing and using the time and money saved to sterilize more animals actually leads to more FeLV and FIV positive cats in the community, plus more cat overpopulation overall. So it's a double loss.

I can understand that uneducated people are not going to be well-equipped to care for a sick animal, but FeLV/FIV status is such a small component of health that hyperfocusing on these viruses just isn't sensible. It doesn't make any sense to kill an asymptomatic positive cat because he might get sick someday (some FeLV cats and most FIV cats never actually get sick from the viruses), when the fact is that the cat is guaranteed to get sick from something someday and the person will be no better equipped to care for the cat when, say, he gets kidney disease or cancer.

There is a lot of fear about feline retroviruses, but the bottom line is that overpopulation kills more cats than any disease out there. So if cats' lives are going to be saved, we need to focus on the #1 killer and that means doing whatever possible to increase the capacity of our spay/neuter services.
post #15 of 28
I just wanted to thank all of you because I don't think it's said enough -- I give you all so much credit for being out there in the rescue zone... there must be times it's very emotional and very difficult. You do a fabulous job caring for these animals who merely need someone to love them.

And if it weren't for people like you all, I would never have found Cosmo. I only wish more people would adopt cats from rescue groups and shelters...

Good luck to all of you and keep up the great work!
post #16 of 28
wodesorel...so the cats you are fixing are being either 1. returned outdoors (ferals/strays) or 2. going back to their owners? If that is the case, I think that vegansoprano is correct. Testing each cat for FIV and FELV does use resources that could otherwise be spent on spaying/neutering. I can understand testing as an "additional fee" if people want to know or a manditory test for people relinquishing animals that are then adoptable. It would be interesting to find out 1. how much each FIV/FELV test costs and 2. How many cats end up being found as positive (with the understanding that false positives can and do occur).

I would really recommend that you contact Nathan Winograd's organization:

http://www.nokillsolutions.com/

The reason I am suggestion you contact him is because he turned a shelter that is similiar to yours around so that it is now the only no kill full intake shelter. I suspect he can provide some guidance....in the meantime, here is information from Best Friends about Nathan and the shelter:

http://www.bestfriends.org/nomorehom...eltompkins.cfm
post #17 of 28
I honestly have not read all of this thread because I am so tired... But I just started volunteering a few months ago at my shelter and am soon to be trained in receiving. Yeah, that means I get to deal with the A-holes who drop off all these animals for us. It's going to be some experience.

We have about 12,000 animals come through our doors every year, so I am not sure what that boils down to in terms of dogs and cats (and other animals even)... but goddddd I have heard kitten season is the worrrrrrrrst. We are going to have noooooo room for anyone! *sigh*
post #18 of 28
Hey Jennifer - our small group is trying to divert some of the cats from getting into your shelter. Kitten season is the worst - the pregnant ones are going to start delivering in the next few weeks and you should see the peak from early May thru mid June.

I personally haven't had kittens for 2 years now (knock on wood). My husband suggested that we donate our kitten condo (small wood box with carpet) to the shelter for some of the folks that do a lot of kitten fostering. I'm convinced if we do this we'll jinx ourselves and find another litter. He did say that he saw a couple of Manx youngsters down the road (the woman on the corner refuses to get her calico manx spayed even when I offered to pay for it) so I'm thinking I'll have to raid and spay this spring.

Brace yourselves everyone!
post #19 of 28
It's already bad here. Our shelter has taken in 9 mother cats, and 32 kittens, over the past two weeks. I helped move 3 moms and 14 kittens this morning, from a local farm. The farmer called the shelter on Wednesday, and said he would drown the kittens if they weren't picked up!
post #20 of 28
I just got an email from someone who has found 3 cats, 2 of them "extremely pregnant" in an abandoned house. Of course I said I'd help. I don't know where the heck I will put them, but I suppose we'll figure something out.
post #21 of 28
I saw a very pregnant cat when I was taking my morning walk. She looked like a recently discarded stray -- dirty and struggling and scared. Maybe her owner threw her out when it was obvious she was pregnant? Her stomach was practically dragging on the ground. Perhaps I was looking too closely at her, because before I could even think of nabbing her she scooted across a parking lot and went into the thick brush that lines one side of my neighborhood. She might have well have gotten sucked into a black hole for all the luck I would have finding her in that mess. Don't know what will happen to her...she looked pretty young, too.
post #22 of 28
Ok....so I should know better than to look under the pregnant cat section...but why everyone is so excited about their cats having babies when I get to watch as we pull fewer and fewer cats from the pound because everyone wants kittens. Sorry...but I think about all those older cats that won't have a chance and why should their life mean any less. While everyone throws a party in the Pregnant cat section...I will mourn those cats we could not rescue.

Katie
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1
Ok....so I should know better than to look under the pregnant cat section...but why everyone is so excited about their cats having babies when I get to watch as we pull fewer and fewer cats from the pound because everyone wants kittens. Sorry...but I think about all those older cats that won't have a chance and why should their life mean any less. While everyone throws a party in the Pregnant cat section...I will mourn those cats we could not rescue.

Katie
Katie, I agree with all you've said, that is why I started doing rescue. But we just rescued a very pregnant cat, and even though the last thing we need is more kittens, we are still excited at the thought of seeing them enter the world.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1
:While everyone throws a party in the Pregnant cat section...I will mourn those cats we could not rescue.

Katie
my cat just had a kitten. whilst it was unplanned it was a genuine accident, she escaped three days before getting spayed. but i have done my utmost to giver her and the kitten the proper care, nutrition, attention and love. even if she had 10 kittens i would have loved and nurtured them until they were able to be placed in loving homes with my family and friends.

its not all about spay and neuter its about having respect for another life-your pets and taking responsibility.i truly cant understand people who throw out an animal at any age.

but saying that i lucked out as she only had the one kitten and none of her litter took homes that could have to gone to other cats in need.

what i'm trying to say is not everyone in the pregnant cat section would count as an irrresponsible owner. i made a mistake but have tried my hardest to amend it. my cat and her kitten want for nothing and i wouldnt dream of handing any animal to a rescue organisation if i had space in my own home.

many of my friends and relatives want a cat (cat not kittens) but are reluctant to go to a shelter to adopt because of pre-concieved ideas they have about shelters. they are scared that they will be ruled out because of a house inspection because they fear impossible standards will be expected. or they are reluctant to adopt a pet that someone else has dumped as they fear taking home an agressive or ill animal.

sadly many of these beliefs are wrong as all the people i have spoken to/met who work in rescue have been kind and understanding and not over zealous as people may fear. i think here at least animal shelters need a pr make-over.

kitten season: my friend recieved free spaying for her cat on condition she turned over all the kittens from the last litter.

if the rescue organisation had not done this they would have continued having kittens after kittens themselves (as had happened for the past 3 years).

maybe if it is not already you should make this a condition. that you will only accept litters if you can spay the parent cats.
post #25 of 28
I agree with you, TNR1. But many of the posters in the kitten forum are foster mothers taking care of stray cats that were already pregnant. So I thank them for their efforts and am happy to see an uncomplicated pregnancy.

But I do agree with you -- I go to the cat adoption area when I am at one of the local Petsmarts just to see what is happening. Twice I witnessed people walk by saying "where are all the kittens?" and "these are all old cats" and then wander out of the store in the direction of the pet place that sells kittens for profit. Animal control only puts cute kittens and bonafide lapcats up for adoption -- every other cat is discarded (unless a private group steps in).

Since we are being honest, there are one or two very naive and unsophisticated posters who really rub me the wrong way how they hyperactively celebrate the birth of all these "oops" litters. There is no miracle or specialness about it -- leave an unspayed cat wailing in heat outside over night and she will get mated at least five times. Nothing magical about it. And all that is accomplished by these extra kittens is to effectively lower the age at which the typical cat can expect to be euthanized. Because it will come full circle to these unplanned kittens in a year or two -- hastily adopted out to unsuitable homes, not vetted, eventually abandoned...ultimately there is no room in the shelters or in anyone's home for them because of all the new kittens.

So I just keep one foot in both areas. There are millions of cats euthanized a year -- so anytime a volunteer steps up to say "I am going to save these ten cats" or "I am going to TNR this colony" I thank that person and congratulate them when they have success with their project. But there are still only a finite number of homes, so a bunch of new kittens means the older cats are more quickly euthanized to keep up.

(Obviously I rescued a 6-8 year old adult stray...so my personal preference is clear.)
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany
Hey Jennifer - our small group is trying to divert some of the cats from getting into your shelter. Kitten season is the worst - the pregnant ones are going to start delivering in the next few weeks and you should see the peak from early May thru mid June.

I personally haven't had kittens for 2 years now (knock on wood). My husband suggested that we donate our kitten condo (small wood box with carpet) to the shelter for some of the folks that do a lot of kitten fostering. I'm convinced if we do this we'll jinx ourselves and find another litter. He did say that he saw a couple of Manx youngsters down the road (the woman on the corner refuses to get her calico manx spayed even when I offered to pay for it) so I'm thinking I'll have to raid and spay this spring.

Brace yourselves everyone!
Oh, awesome -- you are with HELP, yes? I just saw that earlier today in the ebay auction thingie.

Have you told that woman all the benefits of spaying? Why the hell WOUDLN'T you do it, especially if someone else pays? God, people are soooooo stupid!
post #27 of 28
Ok I think it's safe to say that our kitten season has started (even though it seems that it never really stopped!)!!!!!!!! We go t 2 litters of kittens less than a week old in the emergency clinic this week...and that's just the one's I knew about...who knows if there were more! Luckily we were able to team up and keep the bottle babies healthy. I was lucky that a lady that helps bottle feed for our org. could take them (God Bless Her!!!!) because I had a week full of exams and had to spend long days at school. I'm so nervous tho.....the lead lady in our org left the country for 2 weeks today. I just know it's gonna be a crazy few weeks. Need good vibes for all the little bottle babies and maintaining our sanity while she's gone (I don't know how I'm gonna find places if we get more that need fosters :-( )
post #28 of 28
To everyone that does rescue work - I applaud you! Good luck for the kitten season-
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