ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Spring is a period for renewal and rebirth, sparking a time of year referred to by animal shelters as “kitten season.”
Cats are in heat, which causes a massive influx of large litters pouring into Albuquerque shelters.
Animal Welfare says last year they dealt with more than 1,500 tiny, stray kittens coming into their care.
For many, it meant bottle feedings every couple of hours, and shelters can’t do it alone.
“Well, kitten season. It’s also called kitten mountain sometimes because you look at the number of cats that come in and all of the sudden it spikes into a mountain when it comes spring time,” said Paul Caster, Animal Welfare Department Director.
He added the rush of kittens streaming into their shelters when the weather gets warm has become a big problem.
“And that’s huge because if you talk about finding people to care for 1,500 babies until they’re old enough, they have to be two pounds before we can spay or neuter them,” Caster said.
He said that can take months, and it’s something that needs to happen before kittens can be adopted. So, the need for volunteer foster families is huge.
“These little kittens come in, they can’t even eat on their own, then can’t regulate their body temperature, so we have some very special foster folks that can take those little guys,” said Bet Lotosky, Animal Welfare Deptartment Program Manager.
“We’re forever looking for volunteers,” said Caster.
Animal Welfare says a big problem is people find and bring in kittens they think have been abandoned. They say chances are, mom is just out looking for food and will be back.
“But if you pick them up, then we have to feed them,” Caster said.
Caster says people should keep an eye out for mom before scooping the kittens up. For now though, the folks at Animal Welfare are bracing for this year’s kitten flood.
“It’s a little tiny bit of a crisis everyday,” Lotosky said.
“It’s like any other child. You have a human baby, it’s going to get fed every two hours when it comes home. Same thing with cats, only there’s six or seven of them every two hours,” Caster said.
It’s a stressful time they say has gotten better over the years, but is still a big concern.
Animal Welfare holds classes for new foster families looking to care for their bottle babies.
They say it does require a big time commitment, but you can also help by volunteering your time at the shelter or donating blankets, bottles or formula for the kittens.
The city’s Animal Welfare Department says they are trying to get those kitten numbers down.
Friday, they are holding a first come, first serve, free spay and neuter event.