|All About Pets!
Spring is officially here. In the shelter world, we mark spring by our own measurement – not the date, not by the longer daylight hours, not by the nicer weather, but by the arrival of our first kitten. We even have a different name for this time of year – “kitten season.” Just a week or so ago, two of our pregnant stray cats gave birth before we could get them in to be spayed so spring, or “kitten season,” has officially begun.
Once the floodgates have opened, we will get kittens from now through December. We’ve been enjoying our brief break – in fact, this is the first year we haven’t had a complete stop in kittens, as we still have a four-month-old up for adoption. Usually, there are a couple of months with no kittens around at all that allows us to focus our adoption efforts on the adults that have been waiting and waiting for a home – it’s hard to compete with cute kittens around.
Our hope is this year won’t be as bad as previous years – we have been offering free cat spays and neuters for over a year now so it’s actually a surprise there are still fertile cats in our town.
If you have been feeding a stray for a while and don’t know if he or she is fixed, now would be a great time to find out. Please don’t just watch her get bigger and rounder until she pops with kittens. A pregnant cat can be spayed to end the pregnancy and prevent future ones. It’s really the best thing to do, given the surplus of kitties around. Call our spay/neuter message line today, (588-3531) to get an appointment. Caring for a single stray cat is great – caring for five or six- not so fun.
In order to get prepared for the influx of babies, we are stockpiling some supplies and recruiting new foster parents. We’ve declared April as baby shower month. On our nursery registry are: flexible tip, quick-read thermometers; electric heating pads (the kind without the auto shut-off); stage 1 chicken or turkey (human) baby food; kitten nursing bottles and nipples; faux fur material for bedding; Benebac supplement and money to get the special formula and we prefer Pedialyte. Raising orphan kittens is not only a round the clock job, it can get pricey with all the special diet requirements.
Foster parents help out by taking the kittens out of the shelter so they can be raised in a more natural home environment. The babies get lots more attention in a home and they are away from the germs and viruses inherent in a shelter. The commitment can vary from just a couple of weeks – we call it finishing school – for those kittens that just need to gain the last half-pound before going up for adoption (they have to be at least two pounds to be altered and that happens before they go into our adoption room) to a full 8-10 weeks if you take a mom-cat and newborns. The most important part of fostering is giving the kittens lots of love and handling. It’s a hard job (not!) – are you up for it?
To learn more about what fostering is all about, attend a short foster orientation – the next is scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 at 6 p.m. If you can’t foster but want to support our program, remember April is Kitten Shower month and donate something off our baby registry. Donations can be dropped off at the shelter during our regular open hours – Wed. 1-6:30 p.m.; Thur. through Sat. 1-5:30 p.m.; and Sun. 1-4:30 p.m. We’re “expecting” 200-300 kittens, so we appreciate your support.
• Pet First Aid & CPR, Sunday, April 29, 10-11:30 a.m., $25. Learn the basics of what to do in an emergency to help your dog or cat. Space is limited – payment is needed to reserve a place. Call 584-1582 for more information.
• Meet the Bunny, April 14, from 1-5:30 p.m. (and every second Saturday of each month). Meet our adoptable rabbits, ask care questions of our knowledgeable volunteers, and shop our bunny boutique for fresh hay, rabbit toys and accessories. Bring your rabbit for a free nail trim.
• Paws ‘n Claws Class for 2nd through 5th graders is Sat.. April 28, 10 a.m.-noon, $5 per child. Learn the basics about pet care and safety around dogs, tour the shelter and meet the animals, make a toy for a shelter dog or cat and more. Enrollment is limited – first come, first serve basis. For more information, call 584-1582.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor for the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be reached at email@example.com.