BROOKSVILLE — In a small compartment, two gray tabby kittens tussle over a small rubber ball, unaware of their cramped confines. Just a few weeks old, the pair were surrendered to Hernando County Animal Services by their owner last week.
They certainly aren't alone. In fact, the shelter is overrun with kittens. As of Wednesday, Animal Services had 42 kittens, including ones that are still nursing their mothers.
The burgeoning kitten population isn't unusual this time of year. In fact, Animal Services director Liana Teague said the shelter typically takes in upward of 200 kittens between May and October.
"We may be seeing just the beginning of breeding season, and that means we're likely to get a whole lot more kittens in the coming weeks," Teague said. "All of them are going to need good homes."
All of which has prompted the agency to offer a 2-for-1 special through the end of May, which will allow approved adopters to take home a pair of kittens for $20, plus a $20 refundable spay/neuter fee. The price includes spaying or neutering, one-year rabies vaccinations, deworming, plus a one-year county license, provided by Pet Luv Nonprofit Spay and Neuter Clinic in Brooksville. The fees normally total $40 per cat.
Teague said the promotion supports the shelter's belief that kittens are happier in pairs. Pet experts regularly advocate for adopters interested in one kitten to adopt two.
"They will grow up playing together, and that keeps them busy and less likely to be in trouble around the house," said Teague, who added that interested adopters will be allowed to pick their preference based on color, gender, breed and personality.
The adoption special is the latest effort by the shelter to better try to connect with the public in the wake of the controversy that erupted after the quick euthanization of a surrendered 8-month-old dog in April.
However, Teague said the shelter has always advocated adoption over euthanasia.
"We're always grateful when someone agrees to adopt and provide a forever home to one of our animals," she said. "It's the most positive outcome you could hope for."
The shelter has had good luck with previous adoption specials, and last year placed about 50 cats during an adopt-a-cat promotion in June.
"It's an incentive that pays off," Teague said. "Of course, providing owners with free spay and neuter helps as well because it means these kittens won't be adding to our cat population."
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.