The Susquehanna SPCA is seeking cat-loving volunteers to help socialize hundreds of stray and feral kittens expected to come through its doors by October.
The shelter’s new “Feral to Friendly” program is designed to give volunteers the opportunity to meet and help socialize the kittens, while also lessening the burden on staff as the shelter enters its busiest season, according to SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes.
Summer months are typically the busiest for animal shelters, which are “overrun” by kittens as young as newborns during what is known as “kitten season,” Haynes said.
“The socialization period for cats occurs between two and seven weeks of age, but can extend up to 14 weeks,” Haynes said. “The majority of kittens brought to us have had very limited exposure to humans, so our animal care staff works with them as much as possible in between cleaning, intakes, dog and cat meets and adoptions.”
Shelter staff are currently caring for 28 feral or unsocialized kittens on-site, “with more arriving daily,” Haynes said.
Early socialization, including gentle handling for 15 to 40 minutes per day, helps kittens learn to interact with people and increases their chances for successful adoption, Haynes said. Kittens that remain feral will likely become working cats in barns, garages or workshops.
Volunteers with experience handling feral cats and kittens may foster the unsocialized kittens, Haynes said, while those with less experience may sign up to visit the shelter and play with kittens for an hour at a time, based on availability.
For more information or to schedule a volunteer session, call the SQSPCA at 607-547-8111, ext. 102.