"The East County Animal Shelter is raining kittens and we really need fosters to save them," said Rosalyn Simon, kitten program coordinator for Tri-Valley Animal Rescue in Dublin, which adopts out more than 650 kittens and cats each year. "Right now the shelter is bursting at the seams."
The season generally begins in March and ends in December, Simon explained, affected by temperatures and the moon cycle.
"As you can imagine, this means TVAR needs a large number of kitten fosters," she said. "We get our kittens from East County Animal Shelter."
Kittens go to the shelter as young as 1 day old, surrendered by their owners or found in parking lots, yards or gardens and picked up by Animal Control. Some come with their mothers and the family may need a foster home.
"The shelter can't keep them, period," Simon said. "They don't have the facilities to do that."
Often the baby kittens come to the shelter without their moms.
"The mother can be scared off," Simon explained. "She's frightened, she's not going to take an aggressive stand."
Really young kittens need to be bottle-fed at their foster homes, but beginning at 5 weeks they can eat on their own. They all need homes that provide love, nurturing and socialization as well as food, drink and a dirt box.
"TVAR has an amazing bottle baby and kitten core foster base though a large part of each season's fosters come from volunteers who foster just one or two litters and never foster again," Simon said. "This means TVAR is always in need of many, many kitten fosters though our current need is very immediate as the shelter is too full with kittens and they cannot keep them for long as they know more will come almost each day."
A small room separate from the rest of the family's living space, such as a bathroom or small bedroom, is the perfect place to keep kittens being fostered, said Simon. TVAR provides everything needed, including a litter box, bedding, toys and medical care.
TVAR can also supply a "kitten condo," actually a large cage, to contain the kittens in a family room or other space if there is no other dedicated room available.
Kittens cannot be adopted out until they are spayed or neutered when they weigh 2 pounds, which is at about 9 weeks of age. TVAR arranges the surgery along with vaccinations and de-worming.
When the kitten is ready to find a home, fosters bring them to adoption events. Again, TVAR can help with the logistics.
"We could easily use another 30 fosters," Simon said. "As summer approaches, people start going on vacations, and it's hit and miss."
Some fosters have doubled up and taken two litters in the current emergency.
"Our need is right now," Simon said.
For more information, visit www.tvar.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.