Kitten season began with a mew nearly three months ago but now, during late spring, the cutest time of year is roaring ahead.
According to the BC SPCA website, longer days and warmer weather means more cats are having kittens, often giving birth to multiple litters throughout the summer. This marks a time period when the BC SPCA sees the most kittens come into their care.
“I’ve had 48 kittens so far and I have even more coming in tomorrow [May 26],” says Jodi Dunlop, manager of the BC SPCA Vancouver branch.
“It could be as many as 10–12.”
And that's just one kitten delivery to the shelter; Dunlop expects to easily see a few hundred more arrive during the season, which lasts until autumn.
Those numbers are consistent with years past, but an increased drive to adopt pets during the pandemic made it hard for would-be kitten parents to find a four-legged friend. Now, not so much.
“At first it was nuts, we would have 60 applicants for one kitten,” she says. “Now we just get around 10 for one kitten and we are able to get through those who are patient … believe me there’s no shortage.”
Most of the animals the Vancouver shelter receives are transfers from northern SPCA branches and include orphaned kittens, neo-natal babies, and new moms accompanied by a litter.
Since kittens can’t stay in the shelter until they are eight weeks old, the BC SPCA places the irresistibly adorable fuzzballs with qualified volunteers from their foster program. These tem-purr-ary parents dote on the babies until they’re old enough to be fixed, vaccinated, and put up for adoption.
Dunlop urges anyone interested in fostering to apply as they expand the program and need extra hands. Volunteers willing to care for a queen cat (that’s the momma) and her subjects are especially sought after due to an increased time commitment. The BC SPCA also offers training for those who want to watch after bottle-fed babies.
If you discover a spring or summertime kitten, experts urge you to err on the side of caution before packing your cat bag. Mom might come back to her babies in a few hours. Kittens who you are certain to have been abandoned can be gently picked up with a towel and transported in a box or a crate to a BC SPCA shelter.
Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association also provides resources for interested volunteers and potential foster parents. Financial donations to either organization also help with care costs—those little kitties eat a lot!