Kitten drive

Kitten season falls between April and October.

“Kitten season” is a term used to describe the period of time between April and October in which many kittens are born in the U.S., and shelters typically see an influx of felines. In preparation for this season, the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA is accepting donations this week that will go toward the supplies needed to care for kittens as well as the shelter’s spay/neuter fund.

Between Monday, March 30, and Saturday, April 4, the RHSPCA is encouraging people to consider donating through the shelter’s Amazon wishlist, which includes supplies such as bottles, toys and kitten formula. Those who choose to donate have the option to send the items directly to the shelter to prevent unnecessary contact in lieu of COVID-19. Executive director of the RHSPCA Huck Nawaz is overseeing the event, and he said he recognizes it as an opportunity for the community to get involved in a way other than fostering.

“Kittens have unique needs compared to adult cats,” Nawaz said. “They need formula and sometimes supplements just to care for them, and those are costly supplies that we’re requesting donations of.”

In addition to receiving donations online, the shelter originally planned for donations to be accepted in person at its primary location and at tables in local pet stores, like Petco and PetSmart. However, to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding COVID-19, the kitten shower is being conducted entirely online.

Tiffany Corbin, marketing and fundraising manager for the RHSPCA, is making educational posts each day on Facebook and Instagram with information about kittens and kitten season. She said it’s important to educate the community about the number of cats in the area so that locals will see why the kitten shower is a worthy cause.

“It’s just a staggering number,” Corbin said. “There’s such an overpopulation of cats in our area — a high, high concentration — and if they’re not fixed during kitten season, they will breed and breed.”

Cats can get pregnant as early as five months old, and they can have multiple litters per year. Corbin said the RHSPCA had 1,800 felines in 2019, and over 1,300 of them came in during kitten season. The shelter is also encouraging people to donate to its spay/neuter fund in order to decrease the overpopulation rate in the area. Nawaz said the fund started last year so all cats would be fixed before going into their adoptive homes.

“Last year, we found adoptive homes for over 1,000 animals,” Nawaz said. “This year, we’re going to be doing considerably more than that, and it is absolutely a critical need for us to be able to raise funding for those procedures.”

The RHSPCA’s foster coordinator Joan Montalvo is also helping organize the kitten shower. Though the shelter is focusing on donations this week, Montalvo encouraged locals to consider fostering a feline during kitten season.

“It’s just litters of kittens coming in left and right, and it’s pretty much one of the busiest times of the year for us,” Montalvo said. “Kittens can get sick very easily in a shelter environment, so we want to send them into foster care.”

Although the effects of COVID-19 have caused the shelter to cancel its in-person components of this week’s event, Nawaz said it’s still too early to say whether it will impact its number of donations. Montalvo said she’s hopeful since people are at home and using technology more often than they would be, they might be more inclined to see the RHSPCA’s invitation to donate.

“[The kitten shower] really is important just to help us save lives,” Montalvo said. “We’re all optimistic that it’s going to be very successful.”

Contact Kamryn Koch at kochkr@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.