Sick kittens spur cat lovers' support at P.E.I. Humane Society

Sunshine is a two-month old stray who arrived sick at the humane society. Staff say there are plenty more to come, as intake climbs in spring and summer. Many of the young felines will arrive ill. Supporters are coming to the rescue.

Humane society says kitten numbers climbing

Sunshine, a two-month old stray, arrived sick at the P.E.I. Humane Society. An estimated 30 to 40 per cent of kittens in the society's care arrive sick or become ill shortly after arriving. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Sunshine was one sick kitten when she arrived at the P.E.I. Humane Society May 22.  The two-month old stray had runny poop and was throwing up. She wasn't eating and had no energy.

"They're like babies. They have compromised immune systems. They're not very strong yet," said Jennifer Harkness, development manager at the society.

Staff say Sunshine is the first of many under-the-weather kittens who will be on their doorstep in the coming months. About 30 to 40 per cent of them will be ill, or become ill shortly after arriving.

"Especially for the stray kittens and the one's without moms," said Harkness.

Numbers increasing

Cat numbers are climbing at the humane society. Intake was up 48 per cent in 2018 compared to the year before, Harkness said.

One reason — the society has dropped its surrender fee, so more people are bringing cats in. And it's now working with another local group, Cat Action Team, to handle more feral cats. They typically arrive in poorer health, according to Harkness.

 "Spring and summer are busy ... as litters are born, and people find them," said Harkness.

This cat, named Indikah, is recovering from surgery. Caring for cats at the society can cost hundreds of dollars. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Caring for a sick kitten at the humane society can cost hundreds of dollars. Sunshine's care has cost $475 so far, Harkness said. That pays for housing, food and medical care, including tests for parasites, and for highly infectious — and potentially fatal — feline distemper.

Staff are bracing for more sick kittens to come. Last summer, at the peak, they had 130 kittens in their care. They've just finished a 10-day fundraising campaign that raised $2,000 to care for kittens, Harkness said. They also received donations of food, blankets and toys for cats.

Those supplies will be provided to families who step forward to foster kittens until they're ready for adoption. About 20 families volunteered during the fundraising blitz.

Sunshine has regained her health. She was adopted Tuesday morning. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Sunshine is feeling much better now 

"Fostering is essential ... socialization is key for kittens," said Harkness. "We really wouldn't be able to do it without foster homes ... but we're still seeing that population [of cats] rise."

Sunshine has fully recovered from what ailed her. Staff posted her picture on social media, and that did the trick.

Sunshine was adopted Tuesday morning.

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