We're coming up on what is commonly known as "kitten season". That time of year when kittens start streaming in from people who have found them under their porches, on their farms, or in an old shed. They come in for the most part without a mother, some too young to eat on their own, and others a bit older and showing signs of becoming feral.
These kittens typically end up on a foster home. The very young ones will be fed by bottle and pottied by hand. The older ones will be handled, played with and hopefully learn that living with humans is not such a bad thing after all. Many times they come out of their shell and become more social.
When I first started working at HAWS 12 years ago kitten season came rushing in with baskets, boxes and carriers of kittens coming through the doors starting in March and running right through until the end of October -- sometimes even later. Then most of our cat adoption ward was filled with cages upon cages of 8 week old kittens. And even though the little ones were adopted quickly, there was a never ending stream to take their place.
We've noticed a huge change in the last few years. Kitten season has started with a trickle, and doesn't really get going until the middle of June. The students in my education programs during the school year repeatedly ask to see kittens, and it's rare that I have any to show them in the spring. And while our cat adoption ward has many cages of kittens at the height of kitten season, it's not nearly to the level that it was years ago.
I give credit to HAWS for this transformation. Our spay and neuter clinic offers free spay/neuter to farms with barn cats, and to residents taking care of community cats; the cats that have no owners. We've also created alliances with other organizations to take cats if we are over-full and they are able.
HAWS has a goal to create a no-kill community. Right now we fulfilling that definition with dogs and our small animals. And we are ever so much closer to that goal with the cats that we take in; we get closer every year. Spay and neuter to reduce the population works, and HAWS is proof of that.