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Shelters filling up during 'kitten season'

Two kittens in their cage at Alpena’s Second Chance Animal Shelter that are available to adopt. Xavier (left) and Xander (right) are a bonded sibling pair.
Courtney Boyd
WCMU Public Media / Alpena News
Two kittens in their cage at Alpena’s Second Chance Animal Shelter that are available to adopt. Xavier (left) and Xander (right) are a bonded sibling pair.

Spring is in the air and summer is around the corner, which is prime mating season for most animals. This includes cats, and veterinary journals estimate there are over 70 million stray cats in the United States alone.

Second Chance Animal Shelter is a non-profit, no-kill shelter in Alpena. They are going through what many animal shelters call kitten season: the time between April and October when litters are most commonly born, and where shelters tend to see an influx of kittens. Tiffany McDonald is the shelter manager, and she said the shelter is currently over its usual 25-cat capacity because of the season.

"We were in this hoarding situation where we had pregnant moms coming in and they had lots of kittens," she said. "Since then, we’ve also taken more. We had a group that was found in a wood pile, and a couple other ones have been brought in. So it’s been filling up ourselves and all of the local shelters."

McDonald said that the hoarding situation was tackled by three shelters in the county due to its size, and those shelters constantly remain full. While Second Chance has only had their building for a year, she said they're seeing the same effects.

"Twenty-five is our max," she said. “Right now we have about 30 kittens, and I’d say half a dozen adults.”

Leanna Bloom is one of the founders and a volunteer at the shelter. She said the stray cat problem isn't as prevalent in the city, but the county as a whole has “pockets” where cat populations are more noticeable.

"You see it especially in the rural parts," she said. "Open fields and barns. When the cats see a barn, they go for it."

McDonald said there are ways for the average person to help during this time. If they have cats of their own, she advises spaying and neutering them, a service her shelter is looking to provide at a low cost in the near future.

She said if residents stumble upon a pregnant cat or a cat that already has kittens, and if they are able to, she suggests housing them or fostering them temporarily until a shelter has an opening. If the mother cat is too hostile, she said residents can contact Northeast Michigan Trap Neuter Return (TNR), a non-profit program in the region that specializes in trapping feral and hostile cats, neutering them, and releasing them back into the wild.

When it comes to the shelter's current population, McDonald said the shelter will be hosting an adoption event on June 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1110 DeVere Drive. She said they hope to use the event to promote the shelter, as well as to open up space for more cats to be rescued.

"The more kittens we get out, of course, the more we can take in," she said.

Residents can learn more about the adoption event and what the shelter does on their website,

Courtney Boyd is a newsroom intern for WCMU based at The Alpena News
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