Cat chaos in Placer

By: Megan Wood
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They may call these the “dog days of summer,” but Placer County SPCA begs to differ as they are inundated with cats. Roseville PSPCA Chief Executive Officer Leilani Vierra, said the shelter is preparing for what they’re calling a “cat crisis” as volunteers and staff members are already in the throes of an early start to kitten season. “Kitten season used to be just a few months from June to August, when it was really warm out,” Vierra said. “I don’t know if it’s global warming or what but now it seems like it starts in February and goes through September and into October.” At that rate, this season the shelter will need to prepare for more than 700 kittens. Although the Auburn Animal Shelter hasn’t quite seen the same numbers, manager Mike Winters said they anticipate seeing the number of cats delivered to their facility increase as the weather heats up. “Cats have many more heat cycles than dogs do,” Winters said. “Cats can go back into heat shortly after giving birth, which is why cats can create a problem much faster than dogs.” Last week, Vierra said the Roseville PSPCA received 32 kittens in two hours bringing the total number of cats being cared for in the hundreds. According to Vierra, many of the kittens are so young they require bottle feedings, while others are feral and will need to grow accustomed to people before they can be deemed adoptable. These varying needs and the staggering number of kittens that continue to be dropped off have Vierra and her staff outsourcing the kittens to foster homes. “We don’t feel like a cage is anyplace for these little guys to grow up,” said Roseville PSPCA admissions and adoption manager Tiffany Smith. “We’d like to get them into loving homes where they can grow up for awhile until they can be adopted.” The PSPCA and Auburn animal shelters have said they will euthanize for serious injuries, illnesses and behavioral issues but not for space. The Auburn Animal Shelter transfers excess animals to local volunteer groups like Angels Rescuing Kritters ARK, Auburn Area Rescue Foundation or the Animal Care Center in North Lake Tahoe. The PSPCA relies heavily on community volunteers and holds a number of informational classes to educate volunteers. Foster volunteers are provided litter boxes, food and blankets to care for kittens during the length of their stay until they can be returned to the shelter to be spayed or neutered and then placed for adoption. “Depending on the volunteers’ time commitment we have kittens of varying needs and ages,” Smith said. “They could have a kitten anywhere from a few weeks to a month it all depends on what the volunteer can do and how well the kittens grow during that time.” Mother and daughter foster team Tina and Rae McAtee have been fostering kittens for the Roseville PSPCA for three years and in that time have taken in 63 kittens. The Rocklin duo fosters PSPCA kittens year round, picking up a new set of kittens the same day they drop off ones ready for adoption. The PSPCA trusts the pair with kittens of higher needs including multiple kittens requiring bottle-feeding every two to three hours and entire litters of kittens. “The most we’ve ever had was two litters of three kittens,” said 15-year-old Rae McAtee who is now using her foster work as community service hours to meet her high school requirement. The McAtees admit that while fostering kittens is certainly rewarding, not every aspect is fun and both have seen the heartbreaking side of caring for the young animals. Of the kittens that the McAtees have cared for, eight have died or needed to be euthanized due to illness. “Sometimes they’re sick and we just try to care for them and get them healthy,” Tina said. “Other times we don’t know they’re sick and they’re just gone. That’s hardest because you can’t prepare yourself. You think you’re doing everything right but sometimes they’re just too sick.” The McAtees maintain a list of the kittens they’ve fostered, including those that have died. The two will also write up profiles for each kitten describing their personality that the PSPCA provides for prospective adoptive families to read. “Fostering kittens was all her (Rae’s) idea, but I consider this a passion now,” Tina said. “They give so much love and appreciation and you really feel like you’re saving a life.” How you can help info box: Be a foster volunteer: To become a foster volunteer home for kittens, attend an informational class that will cover the care and keeping of kittens of varying ages and needs. Attend a class for prospective foster kitten families Friday, June 12 3-5 p.m. Roseville PSPCA 150 Corporation Yard Road Roseville Reserve your spot at 782-7722 ext 104