The SPCA is at kitten capacity, again. In May, the kittens begin trickling in. By July the kitten stream had become a kitten torrent. The kitten incentives are well under way. The two-for-one kitten special, for example. They call it Cat-a-Palooza. Starting July 30, there will also be cocktail parties.
It’s one of the novelties of the San Francisco SPCA that the cats waiting to be adopted hang out in what look like very small offices. On a slow, sunny afternoon, they look a little bored. Many of them are watching television. In one room a kitten is lackadaisically watching a video of a squirrel gnawing on an acorn. In another room, the television shows a crustacean hobbling along the ocean floor. A cat is slumped in front of it, watching impassively.
Cats tend to produce more cats when the weather is warm, but the San Francisco SPCA also has more animals than usual because of the recession, says Jennifer Lu, who recently left the publicity department at Macy’s to run the communications department here.
“People are in flux. They leave the state. They move to smaller places. They move into a place that doesn’t accept cats.” And so, a state of kitten abundance — 81 in the pet hospital and shelter, 138 staying in foster homes.
“If people see a dog running loose, they call animal control,” says Suzanne Hollis, client care manager for the SPCA. Hollis is wearing a cheerful, floral print summer dress, and an enormous red cat scratch across one tanned bicep. “If people see a cat running loose, they just think, ‘Oh look, a cat.’ They won’t think to call.”
The SPCA has a trap, sterilize and release program in place for feral cats, on the grounds that they keep rodent populations in check and in some cases keep unsterilized feral cats from reproducing, by competing with them for hunting territory. But feral kittens aren’t re-released; they’re socialized to be around humans, then put up for adoption. The tiniest/most charming/most blue-eyed kittens go first.
“We’re not trying to encourage impulse cat adoptions,” says Lu. “We want these pets to go to forever homes.”
But they are trying to adopt out 72 animals in 72 hours, she adds. “There will be cocktails. And food carts. And a swing DJ on Friday evening, and a house DJ on Saturday.” She pauses. “We would like to move more of these cats.”