Animal shelter

Unicoi County Animal Shelter Struggles During Kitten Season | Local News

Kitten season is upon animal shelters across the country, and Unicoi County Animal Shelter staff members are taking one call at a time.

Kitten season is the time between February and September when shelters are often overrun with pregnant cats, cats that have recently given birth and kittens.

Unicoi County Animal Shelter Director Kevin King said the shelter currently has about 150 cats in its care and can see up to 450 cats and kittens a year. And calls for help from the community keep coming.

“Our population isn’t even that big,” King said. “Washington County, Carter County, Greene County – they’re going to have more.”

Dealing with an influx of felines takes time, but King said the hardest part of kitten season is the emotional toll it takes on himself and his staff.

“Nobody works in the shelter because they hate animals,” King said. “We all love animals and we all do our best, but they text you all hours of the night and you try to save one after another that just died in your arms that day. “

UCAS, like many other shelters in the region, operates on a budget that does not cover the majority of the expenses it faces. Aside from a portion of payroll, the shelter raises funds to cover food, litter, vet bills, and other necessary expenses.

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King said kitten season can often drain the shelter’s available funds and supplies, and sometimes that’s still not enough.

“Somebody brings you a lonely kitten that’s five weeks old and has an upper respiratory infection and you take her to the vet and you spend money and money and money, and sometimes they don’t make it,” King said. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do. And we’re asking shelters, staff, and even community members to shoulder this burden when we’re all underfunded.

King said one of the best ways to help shelters like UCAS during kitten season is to volunteer as foster parents. A foster family takes a cat, kitten, or several kittens into their home and provides care while the shelter provides all necessary supplies and covers all veterinary expenses.

Donations of supplies and money also help the shelter. Kitten food and litter are high priority needs for the shelter during kitten season.

“The community is in on it with the shelter,” King said. “We are stuck together.”

For more information on fostering a cat or making a donation, call the shelter at (423) 743-3071.

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