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Large number of kittens causes crowding at Humane Society

June 10, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Humane Society of Washington County has a "full house" of kittens - about 60 total - and if people do not start adopting them soon, some will have to be euthanized, Executive Director Maria Procopio said Sunday.

The shelter currently has a "2-Fur-1 Program." If a person adopts two animals, the adoption fee is waived for one of them, she said.

Euthanasia is a last resort but it may become necessary soon since the shelter is running out of space, she said.

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The mild winter this year contributed to an increased number of kittens this season because animals began breeding earlier than usual, she said. A contributing factor is owners who don't have their animals spayed or neutered, she said.

During non-kitten season, the shelter usually has about two to three litters. Each litter has about five to eight kittens, she said.

The shelter, at 13011 Maugansville Road, currently has 12 families of kittens, and several motherless litters, ranging in age from 4 days to 14 weeks old, she said.

Some kittens were born at the shelter, some were brought in by their owners and some by people who find stray cats, she said.

One entire family - a mother and newborns - was left outside the shelter on a recent night, said Brooke Neville, a shelter animal caretaker.

Normally the shelter has one room of kittens, she said. Currently there are three rooms of them, she said.

The shelter has temporarily converted the area where animals are spayed and neutered into a maternity ward and nursery, Procopio said.

When motherless nursing kittens are brought to the shelter, shelter workers try to place them with nursing mothers in the shelter, Procopio said. But there are not always enough mothers to make that possible, she said.

The shelter has lost eight kittens to illness, Procopio said. Kittens are susceptible to a variety of illnesses, particularly when their mothers are not vaccinated and healthy, she said.

The shelter has euthanized five litters, either because they came in very sick or they were still nursing and they could not be placed with a nursing mother, Procopio said. Kittens can't live without a nursing mother, she said.

Nursing kittens initially need to be fed every couple of hours and the staff is not able to provide that level of care, Procopio said. As the kittens get older and eat less often, they are bottle-fed a milk substitute, she said.

The shelter is looking for participants in a Foster Parent Program, through which people provide temporary homes for the kittens in the shelter who are too young to be adopted - less than 10 weeks old.

"We provide the food and health care. The foster family provides the love and attention," Procopio said.

The shelter currently has five pregnant mothers in the shelter, whose families would stand a better chance if they are born in a person's home, Procopio said.

For information on the program or on adoption, call the shelter at 301-733-2060.

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