Fuzzy math: Sammie’s Friends sees high number of kittens this season | TheUnion.com

Fuzzy math: Sammie’s Friends sees high number of kittens this season


A mother and her kittens recently arrived at Sammie’s Friends animal shelter off McCourntey Road. The shelter has seen an influx of kittens this year.
Photo: Elias Funez

Local animal nonprofit Sammie’s Friends has so far this year seen one of its busiest kitten seasons yet, according to founder Cheryl Wicks.

Wicks said that one of the factors behind the shelter’s uptick in kitten uptake is an increase in cats in the community that have not been spayed or neutered — an issue she says has been exacerbated during the pandemic.

Prior to this year, said Wicks, the organization’s busiest year for kittens had been 2017, during which it took in a total of 437 kittens — 309 of which were taken in by the end of August.

In response to the high number of unwanted kittens at that time, Sammie’s Friends decided to take action through the development of the Cat Crisis Program, in which cats can be brought in to be spayed or neutered with any veterinarian in Nevada County free of charge to the owner when mentioning the program. The expense that Sammie’s Friends takes on in paying for these services for a cat, according to Wicks, is ultimately cost effective when compared to taking in a litter of kittens in the future.

After 2017, Sammie’s Friends saw a “gradual decline” in its kitten intake, for the following two years seeing 386 and 338 kittens, respectively. The number rose slightly to 342 kittens in 2020. This year, according to Wicks, Sammie’s Friends has already taken in 334 kittens through the end of August — with around two months of the typical kitten season left.

“Now, during the pandemic, all the vets are backed up, and they kind of had to save time for emergencies — and a spay isn’t actually an emergency — so this year … we’re way back up again with kittens,” said Wicks. She said local veterinary services being “backed up” could in some ways be attributed to the pandemic, as some providers were more limited in their appointment availability due to each appointment being more time consuming, as precautions such as meeting animals outside were observed.

According to Caralyn Figone with Grass Valley Animal Control, the agency has not seen a similar rise in kitten intake, and is instead seeing one of the lowest-volume kitten seasons in the past six years. Figone stated she did not know what may have led to this drop.

A pair of kittens ready for adoption await their new humans at Sammie’s Friends. Sammie’s Kitty Kove has seen an abundance of kittens this year at the shelter off McCourtney Road.
Photo: Elias Funez


Recent kitten adoption events at Sammie’s Friends’ shelter in Grass Valley have been successful, according to Wicks. At the most recent event last month, she said, 24 out of the 26 available kittens were adopted.

After explaining that interest in adopting dogs has remained fairly steady over the months, Wicks said, “We probably get 70 (to) 80 puppies a year, which seems like a lot, but compared to the kittens, it’s a drop in the hat.”

“I see a large number of increase in re-homes, and I’m not sure why,” said Susan Wallace, founder of animal nonprofit Scooter’s Pals. The organization’s primary focus is dogs, although it also works with cats.

According to Wallace, while she previously would receive around three calls per week about re-homing an animal, she has in recent days been receiving three calls daily. Reasons for the calls are varied, said Wallace, and sometime involve an animal owner working increased hours and no longer being able to spend enough time with the animal, and in other cases simply not being able to take care of the animal any longer.

Wallace said Scooter’s Pals is “always looking for foster homes.” From the people who have gotten involved with the organization to foster an animal, said Wallace, around 40% end up “falling in love“ and adopting the animal instead, meaning there is a consistent need for more individuals who are willing to foster animals.

Scooter’s Pals, which has in the past held “adopt-a-thon” events at Petco in Grass Valley, plans to return with these later this month, said Wallace. This month’s adoption event at 672 Freeman Lane will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 25.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com

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