Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Kittens are Coming!!

As Kitten season approaches, our shelters are starting to stress out. Sure, the influx of kittens is a strain on everyone. The poor feral cat communities suffer when the populations grow, the shelters suffer with more expenses, the need for more foster homes and because of this, the kittens suffer. Many shelters don't even give these babies the time of day. 

It's true.. kittens are often killed upon arrival in municipal shelters. Unfortunately, many shelters do not want to spend the time to save these kittens. They blame the 'pet overpopulation' problem, they blame owners for not spaying and neutering and they blame everyone but themselves. But, in my opinion, when you are injecting a kitten with a lethal solution, that is completely on you. Your shelter is making the choice to end the lives of these innocent animals. 

Foster Kitten in 2009, bottle baby.

Two years ago, my city shelter, Town Lake Animal Center was killing kittens. The lack of compassionate leadership and the out-dated mindset of our former shelter director and leaders meant certain death for kittens entering the shelter before they were old enough to be spayed/neutered or adopted. 


Meet Ginger, my most recent Kitten rescue who was found inside a car engine. She survived a road trip, but would she have survived the shelter system??

Fortunately, Austin Pets Alive! realized these babies could be saved. There is not a more heartwarming or inspiring rescue than this little organization that has made a HUGE impact not only in Austin, but around the country. Dr. Ellen Jefferson saw the number of kittens dying at TLAC and stepped in. APA! created their bottle baby program and is now saving every kitten that enters our city shelter. Kittens no longer have to worry that they will die just because they were born. 

Two little kittens found outside of an apartment complex. They moved into my 'kitten foster room' for a day then quickly found a forever home and are as spoiled as can be!
Austin Pets Alive! is not the only group who saw the kitten problem and stepped up. Shadow Cats Rescue, Street Cat RescueCentral Texas Feline Rescue, along with several others are caring for our feral communities, running TNR (Trap, Neuter and Return) programs and educating the public on the importance of feral communities. Together, all of these amazing rescues are committing to doing one thing at a time and are making a world of difference in the lives of hundreds of animals!

Several kittens of a litter of 9 that we fostered in 2010 with the Williamson County Regional Shelter.

Today, I had the pleasure of chatting with another member of the Pet Alliance of Central Texas committee. Sheryl and I shared foster stories, shelter memories and just overall animal antics during our lunch meeting today. During our get-together Sheryl shared a story that I had never heard.

The Story goes like this:
A man is walking down the beach. During the night, hundreds of Starfish had been washed onto shore and were dying in the morning sunlight. The man sees a young girl picking up the starfish and tossing them back into the ocean, one by one. 
The man approached the girl and asks her, "Why are you throwing the starfish back into the ocean, there are so many, you won't be able to make a difference." 
The young girl looks at him, picks up another starfish and tosses it into the ocean, then another. She looks at the man and says, "I made a difference for those starfish."

More of the Wilco Litter, fostered in 2010.

I like to think that I have made a difference in the lives of each of the pets I have fostered. Through the course of the last several years, I have brought in countless animals and offered my space as a temporary residence, we have volunteered and I have worked to promote my shelter in any and every positive way that I can. 

If you ever feel like your rescue work is not making a difference, think of the starfish... you have made a difference to that one animal, even if just for a minute to clean a litterbox at the shelter or take a pup for a walk! Foster a kitten, foster a litter or offer volunteer time helping out the shelters during 'kitten season'. Your shelter will certainly appreciate it and you will be making a difference in the lives of those animals.

Stephanie Conrad
Owner | Artist
The Pet Studio