With the SPCA at full capacity, the shelter’s staff are being faced with some very difficult decisions.
More than 100 cats live at the shelter – 60 of those are kittens under three months old – and the cages are full.
Kittens, sometimes several to a cage are waiting anxiously for a home as more and more pour into the facility each week.
Dedicated SPCA staff say they cannot physically hold that volume of cats and that bringing more in would impact the quality of life for the other cats currently in the shelter.
They may have to put down some of the animals by lethal injection.
Sick kittens (with curable infections) and older cats will be the first to go.
Last weekend alone, 12 cats were brought into the shelter but only two were adopted.
The SPCA’s adoptions volunteer administrator Kara Harris is making a strong push this month to see that at least some of these cats get good homes.
“We want to work harder to market adoptions,” she said. “We adopt maybe one to four animals a week and we would like to double that.
“When we reach capacity, there is only so much space here. It’s so sad but it is a reality with small shelters – there are only so many animals we can take in – which is why we are pushing adoptions right now – so we won’t have to euthanize.”
Typically, the Bermuda SPCA will only euthanize cats with serious behavioural problems or incurable diseases like feline AIDS and Leukemia, but with the steady influx of cats the fear is that relatively healthy cats will also be put down.
One of the ways the SPCA hopes to increase adoptions is by creating profile cards of each animal.
Ms Harris explained: “The profile cards would have a picture of the animal, it’s name, age and how long it’s been here, along with their individual personality – whether they’re good with children, other animals, etc.
“That way a person can determine if that animal would be a good match for their household.
“When people come to a shelter looking for a cat it is daunting as to know where to start looking as we have so many. These profile cards will help connect a person with a specific animal.”
The shelter is also coming up with more creative ways to name their cats.
“Right now we are focusing on 50’s and 60’s pop culture names such as Laverne and Shirley, or the gang from the Archie comics,” said Ms Harris. “It helps to give them an identity.”
She added that this huge volume of cats currently at the SPCA shows that some people are still choosing not to spay and neuter their cats.
“The main issue is people not having their pets spayed and neutered,” Ms Harris said. “In seven years a female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats.
“There are also a lot of people who leave them here because they are leaving the island. But what they don’t realize is that it could be a lot easier for them to take the animal with them.”
The SPCA usually charges an adoption fee of $100 for a kitten and $50 for a cat. This goes towards covering the cost of the cat while it was in the SPCA.
But because they are at capacity right now they are offering 50 per cent off the adoption fee.
The SPCA is also looking for more volunteers.
“A big part of having all these cats is that they do need to be socialized – especially if we want to find them homes,” said Ms Harris. “So we are asking for more volunteers just to be there to love, cuddle and socialize the cats.”
There are also three dogs, 18 rabbits and a Cockatoo available for adoption.