Cheryl Wicks: Why so many cats? | TheUnion.com

Cheryl Wicks: Why so many cats?

Cheryl Wicks
Columnist

We all love kittens. There is nothing cuter than a kitten and nothing more fun and nothing more mischievous.

If this is true, what doesn't seem to make sense is why the shelters receive so many kittens with no one to care for them.

If you don't want kittens the solution is so simple: Get your cat(s) spayed/neutered. That way you can enjoy your cat without the worry of kittens and tomcats yowling as they look for a female in heat to literally attack and impregnate.

In human terms we would call this rape. It is not making love by two mutually consenting adults. When there is a female cat in heat in the neighborhood any unneutered male will mate with her whether she likes it or not. This is not a pretty site.

In 2017 Sammie's Friends took in 437 kittens, some as young as one day old, with no mother. Some came with the mother cat.

How does a mother cat with kittens become a stray cat? I can't come up with an answer other than someone dumped her and her kittens, because they didn't bother to get her spayed and now can't or don't want to deal with her kittens.

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The numbers are heartbreaking

By now the reader is probably thinking, "Why is the writer so cynical?"

Because I have seen this cycle for 17 years. It is heartbreaking to see a small kitten come on to this earth and within hours of birth have no one to care for it. If it has the good fortune to get found and brought to Sammie's Friends the kitten may have a new chance at life.

It's just not fair what happens to these helpless little guys.

If a kitten comes to Sammie's Friends along with the other 436 it nearly breaks the system. By the end of kitten season our budget allotment is gone, our foster parents are worn to a frazzle and our staff and volunteers are exhausted. But, no matter, the kittens keep coming.

Last year our wonderful volunteer, Joanne Castles, put together "The 2017 Cat Crisis" spay/neuter program. Through this program 750 cats were spayed/neutered.

Sammie's Friends also gave out 750 vouchers for cat spaying/neutering and the 1,000 cats who came through the shelter all left spayed/neutered. Sammie's Friends, in total, spayed/neutered 2,500 cats, last year. Yikes!

Spay/neuter your cat

In addition, the Grass Valley Shelter and AnimalSave spay/neuter quite a few cats.

In 2017, from January to end of July, we took in 222 kittens (the total for the year was 437). This year with spaying/neutering 2,500 cats we have taken in 233 kittens.

I beg of this community to help. Please get every cat you possibly can spayed/neutered.

Some communities have a shortage of cats because their spay/neuter programs have been so successful. This requires the vigilance of every member of our community to help.

If even a few cats remain unspayed/unneutered within a short period of time the population is right back up there.

Cats as young as five months old mate and have kittens by the time they are seven months old. Cats can have up to three litters a year. They can get pregnant almost immediately after giving birth. They have four to six kittens per litter.

In a very short time two breeding cats can create chaos all over again. We love all the kitties that come to us but would appreciate it so much if we were to receive far fewer.

Most shelters don't bother with neo-natal kittens and just euthanize them and move on. This is one of the things that makes Sammie's Friends so special.

We care deeply about every single animal that crosses paths with us. We do everything in our power to save their lives and find them great homes. This is a community effort. So many people help by volunteering, donating, fostering, answering phones, transporting to clinics for spay/neuter and other veterinary care.

Sammie's Friends gives out vouchers to anyone living in Nevada County with a low income. Just come to the shelter at 14647 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley and pick up a voucher.

There are two low cost, non profit, spay/neuter clinics that anyone can take their cat to and receive services at a low price.

Those two are AnimalSave in Grass Valley and Animal Spay and Neuter Clinic in Auburn. Of course, there are many great veterinarians in this area where you can also get your animals spayed/neutered.

Above all else, have a kind heart for the animals and spay/neuter your pets!

Cheryl Wicks is the co-founder and president of Sammie's Friends.

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