Hunt on to home unwanted kittens
It’s that time of year when thousands of kittens will need homes, writes Erin Reilly.
As the glorious effects of daylight savings remind us that summer is just around the corner, another season is already making its ‘‘meowk’’ on animal welfare centres all over New Zealand.
Kitten season might sound cute, but animal welfare centres like the SPCA get overwhelmed with the volume of unwanted kittens that purr through their doors every day.
Thousands of pregnant cats during spring and early summer contribute to what’s known as kitten season, a six-month period (roughly October through March) when thousands more furry felines are born and need to find homes.
But as winters get warmer, cats are getting pregnant sooner, kitten season is getting longer, and more unwanted kittens are on the hunt for homes.
Dr Shalsee Vigeant, SPCA Auckland’s Head of Veterinary Services, says the solution to our ever-increasing cat population is desexing.
‘‘One of the most helpful things you can do for animal welfare in New Zealand is to get your pets desexed,’’ Dr Vigeant says. ‘‘It’s so simple, but it goes a long way in reducing unwanted animal numbers and helping the SPCA focus on things like the inspectorate, education and animal advocacy.’’
Of course, desexing doesn’t prevent kittens that have already been born. So what do you do if you stumble across a ‘‘nest’’ of stray kittens?
‘‘Don’t immediately remove them from where they are,’’ says Dr Vigeant. ‘‘Even if you can’t see mum, she is probably around. She may be away temporarily hunting for food, she may be hiding because you’re there, or she may be moving the family, one by one. Keep an eye on the kittens from a distance. If the mum doesn’t come back after a few hours, call your local SPCA or vet for advice.’’
If the kittens belong to your cat, Dr Vigeant advises owners to try to rehome them themselves first.
‘‘During kitten season, the SPCA gets hundreds of kittens through its doors,’’ she says. ‘‘While we do our best to help each and every kitten, it puts a lot of pressure on us. If the kittens are not sick or injured, we encourage people to try to rehome unwanted kittens themselves by asking family, friends or their community via platforms like Neighbourly.’’
‘‘Rescue organisations work to rehome animals in need, and reduce the number of unwanted animals,’’ says Dr Vigeant. ‘‘Furthermore, the SPCA ensures all animals are healthy and prepared for their new home before adoption. All animals are vet-checked, desexed, vaccinated, wormed, treated for fleas and microchipped. We want every animal to find the right home, so we talk with you to understand your lifestyle and needs and make sure we match you to the right pet.’’
And remember, animals have rights too. ‘‘It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to abandon an animal,’’ says Dr Vigeant. ‘‘If you cannot care for an animal, please give your local SPCA a call.’’
For more information about how to rehome unwanted kittens, desex your cat or adopt a kitten, visit rnzspca.org.nz.
Kitten season is unfortunately a busy one for the SPCA.