Cat in her cage at the humane society.
Miss Ham is one of many cats up for adoption at the Capital Humane Society. Photo by Alayna Verduyn/ NNS

Animal shelters inevitably see an increase in kittens as the weather warms up, and the Capital Humane Society wants pet owners to know how to stop the wave before it starts.

Kitten season begins in mid-April and can run as late as August, depending on the year. Female cats go into heat during the warm months, and if they’re not spayed, can have multiple litters of kittens each season.

The Capital Humane Society usually expects to see 800 to 1,000 kittens every year. While numbers are beginning to drop annually, the only way to continue the trend is to have cats in the community spayed and neutered — and not just the cats in financially stable households.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen the number of cats and kittens coming through the organization decrease,” said Matt Madcharo, interim executive director of the Capital Humane Society. “We attribute that to a lot of the spay-neuter efforts that are in our community.”

The Capital Humane Society offers a reduced-priced program for low-income residents to help stop kitten overpopulation.

“If you’re on any sort of government assistance, so SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare, childcare assistance, housing assistance, anything of that nature, you would qualify for a program,” Madcharo said.

Through the program, qualified individuals can have their cat spayed, microchipped and vaccinated for $45. According to Madcharo, a typical spay procedure ranges from $150 to $250 without assistance, so low-income individuals who take advantage of the program can get basic veterinary care at affordable rates.

Even if residents don’t have a cat, the humane society offers opportunities for people to foster them, Madcharo said.

“The nice thing about the foster care program is you can foster little kittens, and you don’t have to commit to them for their whole life, so we can provide you with basically an endless supply of kittens,” he said.

Moving cats into foster homes opens beds at shelters for cats that might need more direct attention from volunteers, said Granger, a volunteer, foster parent and advocate for the humane society.

 “You never know when you’re going to get a giant wave of cats all at once, and if we don’t have room and don’t have any foster families waiting, well, it wouldn’t be good,” Granger said.

 If fostering is not in the cards, donations are always welcomed, Madcharo said.

There will always be a need for shoe boxes and kitty litter, he noted, and those could be the difference-maker for many young kittens.