Kingston Humane Society launches Homes for the Holidays to find cats homes

The Kingston Humane Society (KHS) is making a push to get as many cats as possible into loving homes over the next month. 

KHS Executive Director Gord Hunter says the Humane Society is well over capacity as far as animals in the care, with 315 animals in a building meant to house just 144. 

Hunter says KHS currently has 90 adult cats currently available for adoption with far more in care, a number that has caught staff off guard considering 30-40 available is seen as a typical high range.

Especially since the onset of the pandemic, the Humane Society has been making greater use of foster homes for animals as they struggle to keep up with the sheer number of animals needing care in the community.

While foster home caregivers provide a huge hand to KHS and can help animals become more home-ready for eventual adopters, Hunter says the Christmas season is exacerbating the overpopulation of animals due to less foster homes being available. 

He says without some relief from adoption, the overcrowding is almost sure to get worse over the holidays.

"We moved to having more animals in foster care... it's easier to keep them there because they're in a home," Hunter said.

"That's a great business model but we need to get those animals out because what happens is at this time of year the fosters will often say, 'I can't keep, you know, Fluffy here because we're going away for the holidays'... we're looking at at least 30 to 40 of the cats that are in foster care right now being returned to us in the next 2 to 3 weeks."

In hopes of relieving some of the overcrowding and finding these cats loving homes, KHS is reducing adoption prices over the next month to less than a third of the typical cost.

Until January 1st, or longer depending on the success of this promotion, adult cats can be adopted at a fee of $50, while those over 8 or with special needs cost $25. 

An adult cost typically costs $180 at the Humane Society. 

Hunter added that while this "sale" is closely tied to the holiday season based on circumstance, the Humane Society wants it to be clear that they don't intend for animals to be Christmas gifts.

He says pets are a commitment, not a present. 

"We are not in any way endorsing animals as presents," Hunter said. 

"We're doing it at this time of year because it's a difficult time of year for us in terms of the returned number of animals, and we also recognize we reduced the price because it's the time of year, and a time in Canada right now, where expenses are rising." 

Hunter says a lot of these cats up for adoption could make a seamless transition to homes.

They can be really easy pets, he says, and a good choice for someone who is thinking of becoming a first time pet owner. 

"Often times the older cats are easier because you're not worrying about litter training, you're not worrying about behaviourally dealing with them," Hunter said. 

"Most of these older animals that we have are really sweet, older cats that have been surrendered to us or have come to us as strays... but they're often very easy to deal with." 

The shelter hopes to get at least half the available cats into good homes, and reduce the number on hand in anticipation of more animals coming through the door.

While Hunter says the impacts of a full building on animals in KHS are mitigated by the dedicated care staff give, but that being able to provide that thorough care to such an abundance of pets can be draining on the workers themselves. 

"The stress on the staff is tremendous," Hunter said.

"They care for every animal like they're their own, do everything they can, work extra hours, work longer hours... but it does take a toll."

While the shelter is still not fully open to the public due to COVID-19, the adoption process can be kicked off on KHS' website.

The $50 and $25 pricing has been in place since Thursday and is planned to last until January 1st. 

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Initiative