Jacksonville achieved no-kill status back in 2014 when the Jacksonville Humane Society (JHS) chose to not to euthanize at least 90% of the animals that enter its shelter.
That decision has resulted in the shelter being close to maximum capacity every year and the situation is getting worse.
In 2018, a record number of underage kittens under 5-months-old came to Animal Care and Protective Services (ACPS) and JHC combined. The shelters took in 7,604 kittens last year.
By February, they had already treated 332 kittens in just the first two months of the new year.
JHC’s Lindsay Layendecker said, “the best option for them is actually not to come to a shelter. A lot of people who, oh you know, 'I’ll take it to the shelter because that's the right thing to do.' But for a kitten that tiny and that fragile, staying with its mom is the best option.”
JHS is struggling to find volunteers to help with what they are calling a "crisis."
With the youngest kittens there is an increased need for more facility space, foster homes, funding, and supplies.
The following options are available to those who want to help:
- The Jacksonville Humane Society offers affordable neutering/spaying for cats, ranging from $45-60, at its location on 8464 Beach Blvd. Appointments are required. Call 904-493-4611 to schedule or visit jaxhumane.org.
- Duval Cat Fix – This program, funded by City of Jacksonville pet licensure fees, provides for up to six pets or community cats to be spayed or neutered per resident. This program is facilitated by First Coast No More Homeless Pets at 6817 Norwood Avenue. For more information, call 904-425-0005 or visit fcnmhp.org. This program is while funding lasts.
- SpayJax is an income-based program for free spay and neuter, available to pet owners in Jacksonville, also made possible by City of Jacksonville licensure fees. First Coast No More Homeless Pets also facilitates this program. For more information, call 904-425-0005 or visit fcnmhp.org.
The greatest source of kittens is free-roaming, unaltered cats, according to JHS. These instances can be anything from owned cats who are given access to the outdoors and community cats who may not have a traditional owner but are being fed by a Good Samaritan.
Cats as young as 4½-months-old can reproduce and are capable of breeding twice a year, averaging six young per litter, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The kitten crisis implications are having lasting effects on older cats as well, making it harder for the shelters to find them adopted homes.
Just neutering/spaying one cat will stop the birth of potentially hundreds of kittens, according to JHS
Information about adopting a cat is available at www.jaxhumane.org
Samantha Kindler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6317 or on Twitter at @kindlersamantha.