OGDEN -- Spring always brings many litters of kittens, but the cold temperatures that delayed the onset of summer also delayed the arrival of kittens.
Now that summer is here, Weber County Animal Services is chock full of kitties.
"The numbers have carried into the first part of July," Animal Services Director Lt. Chad Ferrin said, "so we have been really busy from March until now."
The shelter at 1373 N. 750 West is facing a double whammy with the spring animal increase and taking in animals once handled by Ogden's shelter.
"It seems like we have more kittens and cats than the two shelters had last year combined," Ferrin said. "This shelter was built for a 20-year growth, and there have been times over the last few months that we've been dang near full."
The growth in animals pertains to dogs as well, but felines by far outnumber the canines.
Ferrin said more than 50 percent of the cats that come in are from Ogden. The shelter is averaging about 15 to 20 mother cats with litters, with each litter averaging five to eight kittens.
The shelter is required to keep an animal for five days. Kittens, however, take up to eight weeks to be ready to be put up for adoption.
If the shelter is lucky, a mother cat is available to nurse her young. If not, employees and volunteers can sometimes sneak a kitten or two into a different litter. If that is unsuccessful, the kitten must be bottle-fed until it is ready to be adopted.
"It's a lot of work that goes in," Ferrin said. "We try to get them as quickly into that adoption program as possible."
Every animal in the shelter is tested to see if it is suitable for adoption. Wild, feral or disease-ridden animals usually do not make the cut.
A few volunteers foster sick animals to nurse them back to health until they are suitable for adoption, but those animals are the lucky ones.
The rough economy has been just as hard on the family pet as well.
Many people do not have the money to reclaim their lost pets, Ferrin said. Others simply relinquish their pets to the shelter.
"It's 'Do I feed my family or do I feed my animal?'ââ" Ferrin said.
The public can help with the problem.
Volunteers can foster animals or, as Bob Barker said at the end of every "The Price is Right," spay and neuter your pets. Ogden offers free or discount vouchers for the procedures.
When people come across seemingly abandoned kittens, they should wait to see if the mother cat returns before scooping it up and taking it to the shelter. Unless it's been hurt in an accident, a mother cat rarely abandons her kittens. She could just be moving her litter to a new location. If possible, bring the entire litter, including mother, to the shelter.
These simple measures can save the lives of many animals. Usually if an animal does not find a home after a few weeks, the shelter has no choice but to put it down, Ferrin said, which is always a painful procedure for a department run by animal lovers.
"It's taxing on the staff," Ferrin said. "It's a horrible thing to have to do."