CINCINNATI -- Being surrounded by hundreds of kittens might sound like a dream come true, but the SPCA Cincinnati views "kitten season" as indicative of a widespread problem.
Cats mate seasonally, typically April through July in the Greater Cincinnati area, when the weather is warm. Now, as the end of summer approaches, shelters are overwhelmed by the product of that mating: Hundreds upon hundreds of homeless, unwanted kittens.
The Northside and Sharonville locations of SPCA Cincinnati collectively have about 700 cats and kittens in need of homes, with dozens being dropped off each week.
"The best thing Cincinnati can do to help this is to spay and neuter their pets," said Jake White, president and CEO of SPCA Cincinnati. "It's lives you're going to save."
Thanks to help from the nonprofit The Joanie Bernard Foundation, Cincinnati has been deemed a no-kill city for cats in shelters. The foundation, whose mission is to make the United State a "no-kill nation" and to educate the public about spaying and neutering, has been instrumental in partnering with shelters and foster homes to make this happen. It's a feat of which board chair Deborah Cribbs said she is extremely proud.
"There are hundreds of thousands of cats nationally that are still euthanized for space. We don't do that in Cincinnati anymore," said Cribbs. "There are volunteers, foster homes and shelters that help the SPCA make sure none of these kittens lose their life."
Earlier this year, the foundation's Ten Movement posted billboards across the city that read "1 + 1 = 14" to raise awareness of how one female and one male cat can produce up to 14 offspring in one mating season. The campaign surrounding "cat math" sparked conversations across the Tri-State.
"We were attempting to capture the public's imagination and attention," said Cribbs.
In addition to adoption, spaying and neutering, Cribbs said another way the public can help reduce the number of cats in need of homes is to responsibly feed stray cats.
She says the foundation encourages the public to feed stray cats, trap them safely, then take them to an organization that performs free or low-cost spay and neutering like the Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic.
"Then the problem becomes much less," said Cribbs.