Puppy and Kittens are Coming!
Updated: Feb 6
It may only be the end of January, but LCHS is already seeing signs that kitten and puppy season is about to begin. We have found fosters for the first puppy arrivals of the new year, and as the year progresses, we’ll care for many more kittens and puppies. As always, we’ll need the support of the amazing communities of Lee County to get through the season.
Spay and Neuter
Despite the preparation of the LCHS team, the number of young animals brought to LCHS is entirely out of the shelter’s control. Josh Mitchell, the Health and Behavioral manager at LCHS, shared that kitten and puppy season is very challenging due to space constraints, foster availability, and the medical and behavioral history of animals that are brought to us.
That’s why we need local pet owners to help reduce the number of accidental litters by spaying and neutering their pets, which can enable us to save more lives and avoid overcrowding, which leads to potentially fatal illnesses and the heartbreaking decision to euthanize for space.
Mitchell explained that many puppies are brought in when they start having health problems that the pet owner isn’t prepared to handle, which are often contagious and due to a lack of vaccinations and deworming. According to the AKC’s Puppy Shots Schedule, the standard vaccinations alone can cost $75 to $100 per puppy. According to Breeding Business’s page entitled “How Much Does it Cost to Become a Dog Breeder,” the mid-range cost of raising a litter of puppies with proper veterinary care is $1700 after subtracting the licensing fees and other costs associated with producing purebred animals.
The destructive behaviors and health issues that can appear in unspayed and unneutered animals are also much more expensive than spay and neuter. The operation can decrease these behaviors in animals, including escaping from the yard to find an unspayed animal, and lower the risk of certain cancers and other health problems. Under their Spay/Neuter Your Pet page, the ASPCA lists the benefits in further detail.
While spay and neuter is already far cheaper than raising a litter, low-cost spay and neuter options are available. The SNYP program costs $5 for cats and $10 for dogs and is available to anyone making under $30,000 per year. The requirements are proof of Lee County residency, total household income, and a photo ID, which can be brought to LCHS or Animal Health Center in Opelika. SNYP Plus, available to those making between $30,001 and $50,000 a year, costs $15 for cats and $25 for dogs. The requirements are the same, but can ONLY be brought to LCHS.
What to Do if You Find a Kitten
Another way to help is by knowing how to respond to feral cats and their kittens. Helping feral cat moms and their litters, both by providing support and then utilizing TNR, is beneficial to avoiding feral cat overpopulation. Often, when community members find a single kitten outside, the kitten belongs to a feral cat who is still caring for the babies. She may be in the process of moving the kittens one-by-one.
Foster coordinator Bailey Ray, who has worked at LCHS through three kitten/puppy seasons, shared her advice for community members who find an abandoned kitten or puppy. She advised against immediately removing the kitten and try to care for it oneself. “It’s smarter to wait because a lot of times, the mom is nearby,” Ray said. “It is best to wait to make sure the kitten stays with the mom, because as much as we try, we can’t be cats,” Ray said.
A technique to monitor for a mother cat is to sprinkle a thick circle of flour around the kitten. If you see pawprints around the ring, the mother is still caring for the kitten. If interested in helping a feral cat mom, citizens can provide support through shelter, food, and water, which will make the cats more likely to stay. When they are ready to be weaned, Trap, Neuter, and Release can ensure that the cat and her kittens don’t have to go through the hard work and danger of raising future litters. The LCHS website states, “Parkway Animal Hospital, North Gay Veterinary Clinic, and Auburn Veterinary Clinic will provide TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) Programs.”
Fostering and Donating
We’ll also need fosters to provide homes for nursing animals and those too young for vaccinations. Fostering also gives long-term residents a break from life in the shelter while increasing space at the shelter. To become a foster, visit our website under the “Get Involved” tab to fill out an application.
We also need supplies, both for our fosters and the animals at the shelter. Ray shared that the items we’ll need include replacement milk for kittens and puppies, with the greater need being for orphaned kittens, while most of last year’s puppies had already been weaned. She said that microwavable warmers, bottles for kittens, and pee pads are also needed. To donate items, please visit the wish list on our website under the “Donate” tab. Financial donations also help us to provide veterinary care and meet other needs for our animals. We are thankful for the community support that empowers us to achieve our mission. Every little bit of help counts, especially during puppy and kitten season.