A lack of owner responsibility coupled with the time of year has overwhelmed two local animal shelters and has forced both- the James A. Brennan Memorial Humane Society in the town of Mayfield and the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Amsterdam -to stop accepting cats for now.
The warm weather means many female cats are mating and giving birth to litters of four to six kittens. Many kittens that were adopted or taken in when they were born in the early spring, another common time for litters, are now grown and much less kitten-like. That makes them not as appealing to some owners, Northville Dog Warden Vernon Duesler said.
"The kittens are cute and adorable, but they grow up to be big cats," he said. "They're not as cute anymore. People don't want to take the time."
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Brennan Humane Society Administrator Denise Feldle holds one of the 50 felines ready to be adopted at the shelter Wednesday
Duesler said cat owners who don't want an adult animal often turn the cat out when it gets big, many times without spaying or neutering it. That just exacerbates an already big cat problem.
At Brennan Humane, workers there are caring for approximately 50 cats, some of which have been there for more than six months, Administrator Denise Feldle said. There are many kittens, but even with adoption costs at all-time lows - $50 for any cat or kitten - adoptions are moving very slowly.
"We had a kitten adopted last week, but it was in a cage with four others. That doesn't free up any cage space [to take in more cats]," Feldle said.
She said it has been difficult turning people away because most people react with indignation, expecting a humane society to never turn away an animal.
"I don't come to work every day to kill cats. We're a no-kill shelter," she said. "We're doing our best but we get 15 to 20 phone calls every day."
Feldle said she hopes the cooler weather in the fall will cause a slow-down in the influx of cats.
"Once the initial heat breaks and all the babies are born, you get a bit of a breather," she said.
At the Montgomery County SPCA, workers have more than 70 cats on a waiting list to enter the shelter. They've lowered adoption costs to $75 for an adult cat, which includes spaying and neutering, all veterinary care, testing and vaccinations up to the time of adoption. It also includes Home Again microchipping with first-year registration.
In a news release, SPCA officials said the overpopulation of cats in the area stems from the actions of pet owners, who allow unspayed and unneutered house cats to wander freely outdoors or who abandon them in vacated apartments, on the street or on back roads.
Gloversville Police Captain James Lorenzoni said the city has a large cat problem but neither the manpower nor resources to handle it.
"One of the problems is people turning house cats loose," he said.
Lorenzoni said another large problem is the feeding centers some people set up. A well-intentioned city resident may put out food for feral cats, but that just brings the cats together and encourages breeding, contributing to the problem.
Since cats are not legislated by law, the city is not required to handle them and couldn't even if it was, Lorenzoni said.
"It would be labor intensive and time consuming," he said. "We just aren't able to effectively deal with them."
Organizations like SOCKS - Save Our Cats, Kittens and Strays - sets up feeding stations in order to capture cats and then spay or neuter them. They are then hopefully placed with a foster family while an adoptive family is sought or are released back into the wild.
SOCKS Chairwoman Margaret Perrella said she has not noticed a marked increase in cats in the city but said it's always overwhelming, no matter what time of year.
"We try to spay or neuter at least 10 cats a week, if we can afford it," she said. "There is always a problem. We're just trying to do what we can."
Perrella echoed Duesler and said many people who like kittens grow tired of them when they get older and kick them out of the house. Others simply move and leave their cats behind.
"The bottom line is it boils down to spaying and neutering," she said. "Pet owners can't be so irresponsible."
Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.