Shelters are filled to capacity with cats — it’s a common theme across central Pennsylvania.
Cat overpopulation is particularly problematic during kitten season in the summer. There are continuously growing feral cat colonies in rural areas, students who abandon their cats in apartments and people who neglect to get their pets spayed or neutered.
While cats may multiply each year, according to local shelter workers, the issue is whether people will take personal responsibility for cats in their care.
“A lot of places this time of year are simply full, and if you bring your cats and kittens to the wrong shelter they will euthanize them,” Fonda’s Foundlings Cat Rescue founder Shirley Fonda said. “I have people that call me from Altoona and Huntingdon, all over, but I can’t take care of anymore. And some people won’t go to places that offer to put them to sleep. Who wants to do that?”
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Centre County Paws has 53 adult cats and 72 kittens, according to Paws Director of Development and Marketing Chris Faust said. The shelter has a $5 feline program for adult cats to be adopted. An anonymous donor has also sponsored “Kitten Days” through July, making kitten adoption free.
Despite low or free-of-cost adoption opportunities, the shelter was not accepting new cats or kittens in the past week “unless it was a true emergency.”
“Thanks to our donor’s gift, we are able to offer fee-waived adoptions, which helps open new spaces for the inevitable next wave of kittens,” Faust said. “Kitten season slows down in August but never really ends. The only way to take in more kittens is to have more foster families.”
Fonda also hopes others will start cat rescues or volunteer to be foster families.
“It would be great if more people are able to step forward,” Fonda said. “I’ve rescued about 1,800 cats in 19 years, and that’s crazy and other people cane help, too. I have people begging me to take in more and there are so many sad cases, but I’m at a point where I have to say no. I’d love to help establish another rescue under someone else’s care.”
The only way to prevent overpopulation, Faust said, is to spay and neuter cats.
Pets Come First offers low cost spay/neuter vouchers online, and Paws’s Spay/Neuter Assistance Program provides vouchers to Centre County residents. The Paws vouchers are redeemable at All Pets Veterinary Wellness & Spay/Neuter Clinic and Allegheny Spay/Neuter Clinic, for the full price of surgery for cats. The vouchers are also approved for use with any county veterinarian and act as a coupon for the cost of spay/neuter surgery.