Mild Kingman winter may spark animal overload

SPARKY KNOWLTON/Miner

SPARKY KNOWLTON/Miner

KINGMAN - Unseasonably warm weather can increase the number of litters cats produce from an average of two per year to three, leaving already overwhelmed local animal shelters swamped with unwanted kittens, according to Kristin Freiert of the Low Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic.

David Huggins, animal care manager at the Western Arizona Humane Society shelter confirms that the shelter is already seeing an abundance of unwanted kittens and puppies.

"Yeah, we've received two litters of eight puppies each just in the past two weeks, along with some smaller litters," he said. "It's hard to see 13 puppies come in and ask where the mom is and have the owner say 'at home' and no, they don't have any plans to spay or vaccinate the mother."

Low Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic is extending its February special of a free case of food with every spay/neuter through March.

"We really need to get the word out and get people to get their pets 'fixed' as soon as possible," said Freiert.

The special also applies to feral cats, defined as "a cat that has never been touched by a human," said Freiert. "It's OK for feral cats to be out there - they're good mousers -but cats can go into maturity at four months old and babies have babies and babies and babies. We ask people to spay, neuter, and return."

The Trap-Neuter-Return program is the most humane and effective way to control feral cat populations, according to Freiert. "So many people want to eradicate cats from the area, but if you remove them, guess what? Cats are territorial and more move in. If you trap-neuter-return, they're not mass producing out there."

Traps can be picked up at the clinic for a $25 deposit with $20 returned when the trapped cat is taken to the clinic to be sterilized. "We keep $5 to pay for cleaning and disinfecting the trap," said Freiert.

Once the cat is spayed or neutered and while it's under anesthesia, the left ear is "tipped" to identify it as sterilized.

Low Cost Spay & Neuter, 1707 Andy Devine Ave., performs 30 to 35 spay and neuter procedures a day, and "a true free-roaming feral cat is spayed or neutered for a flat fee of $35," said Freiert.

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