Nova Scotia

South Shore animal shelter seeing 'explosion' in kitten population

An animal shelter on Nova Scotia's south shore is experiencing an 'explosion' in the kitten population this summer, and the manager expects it to increase dramatically by fall.

Pandemic pause in spay-and-neuter clinics last spring may be to blame

This orange tabby kitten is just one of many kittens that have been brought to the SHAID Tree Animal Shelter near Bridgewater, N.S. (Submitted by SHAID Tree Animal Shelter)

An animal shelter on Nova Scotia's south shore is experiencing an "explosion" in the kitten population this summer, and the manager expects it to increase dramatically by fall.

"It's a fallout from the initial pandemic," Kelly Inglis, the manager of SHAID Tree Animal Shelter, told CBC Radio's Mainstreet in a recent interview.

In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic reached Nova Scotia, shelters were forced to halt all public spay-and-neuter programs.

The shelter near Bridgewater, which is the only rescue in the area, had to stop all procedures and shut down for four months.

A group of kittens is seen at the SHAID Tree Animal Shelter near Bridgewater, N.S. On Wednesday, the shelter had 81 kittens under the age of eight weeks. (Submitted by SHAID Tree Animal Shelter)

Inglis said during that time, intact outdoor cats in the area were able to reproduce, creating hundreds of kittens that may have been abandoned.

Cats can reproduce as early as four months of age, and can have up to seven kittens a litter, which only increases the stray population.

"It's astronomical how quickly cats can multiply," she said, adding that the cycle keeps repeating unless male cats are neutered and females are spayed.

Now, she's seeing a significant increase in pregnant stray cats being brought to the shelter, even beyond the typical spring kitten season.

"It first started worrying me back in April or May. In one month, we had 17 stray mother cats give birth in the shelter," Inglis said.

That was around the same time the province once again stopped all public spay-and-neuter procedures due a COVID-19 outbreak across the province.

Priority procedures continued at SHAID and Inglis said the shelter has been working to catch up, but she expects the worst is yet to come.

"By the time we're through this summer, I'm anticipating upwards of 300 kittens just from our tiny little shelter," she said.

A pair of black and white kittens are seen in a kennel at the shelter. The SHAID Tree Animal Shelter is the only rescue in the Bridgewater area and co-ordinates many spay-and-neuter procedures for strays in the area. (Submitted by SHAID Tree Animal Shelter)

The shelter has been adopting out about 20 kittens a week but is also taking in about 20 to 40 kittens a week. On Wednesday, the shelter had 20 cats and 81 kittens under the age of eight weeks.

Inglis said she's been working with Nova Veterinary Clinic in Hebbville to perform procedures but she's also contacted the Nova Scotia SPCA and other clinics for support.

"We've been trying to take in as many stray cats as possible and get them spayed and neutered so we're hopefully at least making a dent," she said.

She encouraged the public to get their cats spayed or neutered as soon as they are able to reproduce, even if that means taking them to other clinics and shelters.

A grey kitten is seen wrapped up in a blanket and being held by a technician at the SHAID Tree Animal Shelter. (Submitted by SHAID Tree Animal Shelter)

"My main goal is to get those kittens into homes, to get them spayed and neutered," Inglis said. 

"We are combating the explosion that's happening right now so we can curb it and get it back under control."

With files from CBC's Mainstreet

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now