Fostering families are needed for kittens

 
Published6/12/2009 12:00 AM

Q. I have heard the term "kitten season." What does that mean and how can I help?

- Katherine Zacceria, Bensenville

 

A. "Kitten season" is the flurry of kittens that are surrendered to animal shelters from April through September. This influx of kittens presses the limits of the rescue community to provide for so many frisky critters at once. Cat owners can help by learning about the problem of cat overpopulation, spreading the word about adoptions, spaying and neutering their own pets, or volunteering at the local animal shelter to be a foster parent to kittens and adult cats in need.

This is the most intense time of the year for shelters that care for the overflow of kittens. Many loving cat owners believe it a kind gesture and a learning experience to show their children the miracle of birth and the development of these playful kittens. While this is truly a miracle, it is something that can be experienced without actively adding to the kitten boom.

While pet parents believe breeding their cats is an act of love their for their cats and that they are creating more loving bonds for people and pets, sadly this is not the case for many. Many pet parents who presume friends and family will be charmed by these sweet kittens when they see how cute and cuddly they are often are disappointed to find that no one wants them. The kittens often are surrendered to local shelters. Pet owners, when surrendering their kittens, often refer to their surrender as a "donation" to the shelter. While we accept every animal with compassion and hope, there is clearly not a need for more kittens. We discourage pet parents from actively breeding their cats, as it unfortunately only contributes to the problem that shelters face of caring for so many animals at once.

Those who want to get involved and be foster parents to kittens have a wide array of scenarios to choose from, including experiencing the miracle of birth with their children by fostering a mom cat ready to deliver, or orphaned kittens in need of around-the-clock bottle feedings. Fostering helps to save many lives: the animals you take into your home temporarily as well as those entering the shelter because lifesaving space is opened up. The need for foster homes is great and the experience rewarding.

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For those looking to adopt an adult cat, June is Adopt A Shelter Cat Month. This event encourages the adoption of adult cats for pet lovers who prefer a cat past the mischievous curtain-climbing stages of kittenhood. It also helps provide adults cats - who find it difficult to complete with those cute, fuzzy kittens for adopters' attention - with much-needed exposure. Many shelters offer special promotions to help cats find forever homes. The Friends of DuPage County Animal Care and Control Foundation currently has a promotion to reduce the adoption fee for adult cats by half, making the adoption fee $50. In addition, seniors 65 and older may adopt one animal for only $1 any time of year. All cats at DCACC are spayed or neutered, microchipped and fully vaccinated before going home.

This is "kitten season" in a nutshell. This is a great time to help shelters by opening your heart and your home by being a foster parent or an adoptive parent to cats in need in DuPage County.

To learn more or to apply to become a foster parent for DCACC, visit our "volunteer/foster" Web page at dupageco.org/animalcontrol. To view cats available for adoption, visit our "adoption" page.

• To submit questions about the animal community, e-mail "Ask the Director" at animal.control@dupageco.org or visit www.dupageco.org/animalcontrol.

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