Felines in desperate need of homes

12 years ago

By Christine Robinson
Special to the Aroostook Republican

Being wide-awake at 5:00 in the morning is a rare occurrence for me, but recently it has happened on more occasions than I want to recall. Our little shelter is busting at the seams with cats and kittens, in every direction and in every corner. I lay awake worried what we are going to do, how we can possibly find homes for all of them. Worse yet, filling a shelter beyond its capacity greatly increases the chance of widespread disease.

The colder nights and start of winter soon only deepens my concern for the number of strays that are trying to survive on their own. Our amazing staff and volunteers have been working so hard to keep the animals safe and healthy, but it takes a toll on them physically and especially emotionally.

The Board of Directors have continued to try to come up with creative ideas by having Adoption Fairs, reduced fees and posting available pets on Pet Finders and Facebook. The local veterinarians have also worked with the shelter in the past offering a one-day half off altering.  We are thankful that these ideas do help to some degree, but with so many full cages it seems overwhelming at times.   

I think my frustration centers mostly around the pet owners who have not been responsible in having their cats (and dogs) spayed or neutered. They continue to allow cats to have litter after litter with no regard to how their actions are multiplying the crisis that we are in right now. And I won’t even tell you how my blood pressure jumps when I see a “free kittens” sign on the side of the road. Right now we have a waiting list for people to surrender their cats and kittens. Our manager was happy that 32 cats were adopted recently, but 33 were brought in during that same period. I can’t imagine what would happen to those animals that didn’t end up in the loving hands of our shelter staff.

This crisis is not just in Presque Isle; recent articles from the Houlton and Bangor Humane Societies show that they are facing the same problems. I think above all I want the pet owners in our communities to just be aware how important it is to be responsible in caring for your pets. A 5-month-old kitten can have her first litter and this begins an impossible cycle.

Here is the ASPCA’s list of the top 10 reasons to spay or neuter your pet:

•    Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before 6 months of age;  

• Your spayed female won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently — sometimes all over the house;

• Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males;

• Your neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus on their human families. On the other hand, un-neutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering;

• Spaying or neutering will not make your pet fat. Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds, not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake;

• It is highly cost-effective. The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your un-neutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray;

• Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children;

• Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth. Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children, especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way;

• Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering; and

•A female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats

The Central Aroostook Humane Society has been running a $15 special on all cats/kittens for the month of September. There is still an application process and a refundable $100 deposit is required for cats that are not altered. Please stop in and visit us 26 Cross St. in Presque Isle. We are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, closing for lunch from 12 to 12:30 p.m. Visit us online at www.centralaroostookhumanesociety.org or check us out on Facebook.