Guest blogger Sarah Rogan has lots of great information for readers about how to help with a reoccurring problem.
My name’s Sarah and I’m a Girl Scout in the Mt. Lebanon community working on my Gold Award project. My project is working alongside Animal Friends to help spread awareness of the shelter‘s mission and help expand the reach of their programs so more people can help companion animals.
My project has focused on adding to the shelter’s educational materials and promoting a specific problem the shelter faces: adopting and fostering kittens. Because of the high number of both feral and domesticated kittens born during the summer months, capacity limitations cause shelters to rely on volunteers to foster kitten litters during “Kitten Season.”
Kitten Season is from April to September, when animal shelters see an increase in kitten litters, some born to feral mama cats and some to domestic cats. Litters typically have 4 to 6 kittens and these increased numbers cause stress on shelter’s capacity. Animal Friends is looking for volunteers to foster these litters and ultimately place the kittens in good homes. A litter of kittens born to a feral mama cat can become house pets if they are socialized before they reach four months of age.
During Kitten Season, but also year ‘round, Animal Friends needs volunteers to foster the kitten litters.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to foster kittens (and for those between the ages 13 and 18, a parent must also become a volunteer with the student.) Becoming a volunteer involves attending a free General Volunteer Orientation Class and a Foster Workshop at Animals Friends. Foster volunteers then need to identify a quiet corner of their home, or a spare bedroom or bathroom. Foster volunteers also provide daily interaction with the kittens, including feeding and care when no mama cat is involved.
Animal Friends will provide the kitten food, litter, etc. so there is minimal cost to volunteers. Once the kittens weigh at least 2.8 pounds, typically 10 to 12 weeks old, they can be spayed/neutered and placed in permanent homes. For adoption, even if you’ve been a foster volunteer and would like to adopt, it’s easy to meet with an Animal Friends Adoption counselor, complete an application and pay an adoption fee. (Adoption fees offset the costs of care.)
Even though Mt. Lebanon may not have an overwhelming problem of feral cats, we do have the resources to make a difference. Action now will decrease the impact for future generations of kittens.
For more information contact Animal Friends for adoption, their many other services, volunteering or donations, at www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org, 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, 15273, 412-847-7000.