Local Shelters Swamped With Cats

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

...an onslaught of abandoned animals made worse by the slumping economy.

Dogs may be the loudest animals at the Sacramento County animal shelter. But cats are taking up the most space. 

"We are seeing rather an alarming increase in the number of cats and kittens that are coming in."   

Pat Claerbout heads the county’s Animal Care and Regulation Department. She says their feline intake this month is up 12-percent from the same time last year. Cats typically breed in the spring and summer…so a spike in the cat population isn’t unusual.

But Claerbout says this year’s different. Close to half of the cats they’re getting are from people who are giving them up.     

"People can no longer keep their pets for varying reasons. As we’ve all heard the economy, home foreclosures, just the overall cost of living today…having a pet is very expensive."   

Claerbout says the reality is…most of the animals that get dropped off will be put to sleep. And it’s not just at the county shelter. The City of Sacramento’s shelter is also overcrowded with cats.

Spokeswoman Claudia Schlachter says under normal conditions they only euthanize older cats when the shelter reaches capacity. But things haven’t been normal lately.    

"We have such a high increase in the incoming kitten population and often times they’re not old enough yet for us to place in adoptions so we’re actually having to euthanize kittens."   

She says on average, they’ve been euthanizing about 230 kittens and cats a month. 

Back at the County animal shelter, director Pat Claerbout says the saddest part is that cat overpopulation is preventable. 

"The problem would go away tomorrow if everyone just took responsibility and realized neuter and spay…that takes care of the problem. And we wouldn’t be doing this every year."

To help alleviate the high numbers of cats in local shelters both the county and city are encouraging people to adopt cats. The county is holding a “Feline Frenzy” adoption event this weekend in Elk Grove…and the city is offering special two-for-one deals.