22 kittens up for adoption at Craig Animal Shelter
June 10, 2017
As the days start to lengthen, the furry, little creatures begin to arrive, big eyes and elfin faces peaking from the creases of cardboard boxes.
It’s kitten season in Northwest Colorado.
This week 22 kittens were available for adoption at the Craig Animal Shelter, located within Bear Creek Animal Hospital.
The number of cats and kittens is slightly higher than about the same time last year, said Animal Control Officer Jill Nelson.
Long days trigger ovulation in cats, causing females in Northwest Colorado to remain fertile throughout the summer months.
“They are long-day breeders… that’s why we have kittens in the spring and summer and almost none in the winter,” said Bear Creek Animal Hospital Veterinarian Kelly Hepworth.
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Kitten season usually peaks in July or August, and the number of kittens can rise to 40, 50 or more. Hepworth described times when Bear Creek has to create temporary shelters in the hospital’s barns until kittens are adopted or transferred by the Human Society of Moffat County to shelters in their network.
“I expect we will continue to see kittens until about September,” said Ann Anderson, Bear Creek Animal Hospital kennel tech.
Too many kittens pose problems
Left to their own devices, domestic cats can create problems for communities and the environment.
“If they are not cared for, you see impacts to song birds, to property, spreading diseases because they are not being vaccinated, and you see them adding to the population problem,” Nelson said.
In one case earlier this year, nearly 70 cats were removed from a house on Taylor Street in Craig. Most had to be euthanized. Nelson isn’t currently aware of any other cat colonies creating problems in the community.
Cute kittens grow up to be killer cats, according to several scientific studies that have estimated the total number of other animals killed by domestic cats each year to be in the billions.
“The amount of small animals killed by domestic cats is mind boggling. When we look at our ecosystem and our birds and mammals, some that are increasingly engendered, we need to do something,” said Bear Creek Animal Hospital Veterinarian Kelly Hepworth.
Spay and neuter part of the solution
Cats are precocious reproducers and unlike many other domestic animals, survive, even thrive, without human intervention.
"If a cat is reproducing for 10 years, they could potentially have 120 kittens in their lifetime," Nelson said, her numbers based on fairly conservative ASPCA statistics.
Nelson added that if half of those hypothetical kittens are female, that would mean another 60 mother cats. And if each of those gave birth to 120 kittens in their lifetime, that could lead to a potential 7,200 kittens.
The best solution to problems created by roaming cats and kittens is to have them spayed or neutered, and there are programs to help, said Craig Veterinary Hospital Vet Tech Diana Richards.
In addition to area humane societies, the Animal Assistance League of Northwest Colorado has helped about 100 people in our community with the cost of care including spay/neuter surgery, Nelson said.
Having pet cats spayed or neutered is may also be the neighborly thing to do.
“Roaming cats are going to seek opportunities, creating a problem for the community, ” Nelson said.
State law requires that cats and dogs must be spayed or neutered before they are allowed to leave the shelter and kittens have to weigh two pounds before they can undergo the surgery safely, said Hepworth.
Inside the Craig Animal Shelter
The Craig Animal Shelter is located within Bear Creek Animal Hospital. The city pays Bear Creek a flat fee for each animal they hold.
Animals arrive via animal control officers or are relinquished directly to the shelter.
Animals that arrive without a collar are held for three days, animals with a collar are held for five days. If an animal has not been reunited with an owner within 3 to 5 days it becomes the property of the shelter.
All shelter animals undergo health and behavioral character assessments to determine their adoption potential.
The shelter only euthanizes animals if they are severely sick or injured, feral or otherwise un-adoptable, said Craig Police Community Service Officer Jill Nelson.
The Humane Society of Moffat County — an independent non-profit organization — provides assistance to shelter animals such as subsidized spay and neuter programs, adoption days and transportation of adoptable animals to network shelters.
City, veterinarians, and nonprofits work together to try and achieve good outcomes for companion animals.
“We have been part of saving thousands of animals that would not have otherwise made it. We take some satisfaction and pride in that,” Hepworth said.
How to report or relinquish an animal
If you decide you can no longer care for your pet, you may surrender ownership to the Craig Animal Shelter or Craig Veterinary Hospital.
The shelter requests a $100 relinquish fee for vaccinated animals or $150 for unvaccinated animals to help offset the costs of care. They also gather information about the animal to aid in finding a good home.
Craig Veterinary Hospital accepts some animals for rehoming and they ask for a donation to cover their costs.
There is no guarantee a relinquished animal will be adopted. It is possible the pet may be euthanized though that is unusual in Craig, said Hepworth.
The humane society helps animals get adopted thought courtesy notices and sometimes transfers them to network shelters in Colorado.
Call Craig Animal Control at 970-824-8111 to report a stray animal.
“Be willing to be part of the solution,” Nelson said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.comor follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education