The Front Street animal shelter was facing a cat-astrophe.
Hundreds of kittens were crowding kennels and foster homes. Something had to be done, said manager Gina Knepp, to avert a “kitten apocalypse.”
The crisis has eased, at least for the moment, thanks to an extraordinarily successful promotion over the weekend. The shelter, working out of Petco on Arden Way, sent more than 200 kittens out the door Saturday and Sunday, and distributed vouchers for 70 more.
“People really turned out,” Knepp said. “The lines were long, but everyone was patient. It was awe-inspiring.”
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Front Street announced in a social media video last week that kittens would be available for $20, rather than the usual $65 fee, at the agency’s satellite adoption center at the Arden Petco. The video featured dozens of mewing, pouncing, prancing kittens “taking over” the downtown shelter in zombie apocalypse fashion.
On Saturday morning, an hour before Petco opened, 100 people were waiting in line in hopes of taking home a new pet. On a typical weekend, three to seven animals might be adopted, Knepp said.
The event has relieved pressure on an overburdened shelter that is almost continually full, she said. Things are particularly dire during what’s known as “kitten season,” or the time of year when cats give birth. The season essentially starts in spring, peaks in early summer and ends in the fall. The newborn felines force shelter managers to get creative to avoid having to put the animals to death for lack of space.
Front Street is hardly the only shelter dealing with an overabundance of cats. Sacramento County’s Bradshaw Animal Shelter is experiencing a similar crisis, said spokeswoman Janna Haynes.
Bradshaw recently held its “Kitty-palooza,” which led to the adoptions of 115 cats in two days, Haynes said. This past week, the shelter slashed its adoption fees to $20, and offered cats at two for $20. This week, animals are available for $15.
At the Petco event, “we had kittens in every color, every type,” from jet black felines to Siameses, Knepp said. “We basically took over the store.”
“There are a lot of highs and lows in my job,” Knepp added. “This weekend definitely was one of the highs.”
But the animals “just keep pouring in,” she said. She and her staff already are thinking about ways to deal with the next kitten explosion.