June is adopt-a-shelter-cat month, and for good reason! Animal shelters across Central Florida and other parts of North America are finding themselves overwhelmed with kittens - a trend that will continue until early Fall.
It may seem cute, but they are not always easy to find homes for and as the number of kittens being abandoned at shelters rises, so do the number of them who are euthanised. Beyond the basic financial and space constraints faced by animal shelters, the shelter policies are also against kittens. Many shelters do not permit putting pets up for adoption that have not been sterilized. Kittens who are less than 4 weeks old and under 2 pounds are not fit for surgery and necessary vaccinations and are often euthanized if foster homes can't be found.
While not all counties are feeling the kitten boom, Orange County Animal Services in particular has received a large number of kittens this year so far. In fact, 60% of their 250 or so cats are kittens.
Osceola County Animal Services is also anticipating a feline onslaught. Their animal-services director, Kim Stato, noted that the shelter currently is housing about 20 kittens, but they are expecting that to grow to an upward of 50 in July.
Lake County is also experiencing the kitten boom. On a typical day the shelter receives 10-15 kittens, which is approx 200 per month for April and May.
While kittens are generally highly adoptable, there are simply too many of them in shelters for them all to find homes. In fact, over the past two years over 48,000 dogs and cats were euthanized across the aforementioned counties (Lake, Orange and Osceola) as well as Seminole, which is the only county currently not facing a kitten boom. In the state as a whole, over 200,000 shelter animals were euthanised before they were able to be adopted last year.
This situation in Central Florida is a grim reminder of the importance of ensuring that your cats are spayed/neutered and of reminding people to look to fostering and/or adopting when the time comes for them to get a new family member.