You’ve no doubt noticed an increase in mewling outside your window here in Shanghai. There’s a reason for that – we’re in the high peak of kitten season, where the lack of neutering/spaying has born its fruit.
Jaiya’s Animal Rescue (whose fosters you’ve seen on our site dozens of times by now) gave us the low down on the facts about cat breeding, the benefits of neutering/spaying and how you can help.
Can you give us a brief introduction of JAR? Essentially what is JAR doing? What does it stands for?
Our group is named in honor and loving memory of 9 week old “Jaiya Kristina” (daughter of JAR’s founder), who passed away from SIDS on February 14, 2009.
JAR is a non-profit animal rescue group that is committed to protecting and improving the health and welfare of animals through pet health care, education, and the promotion of adoption / fostercare as an alternative approach to purchasing animals. We are dedicated to domestic animal population control, promoting pet adoption / fostering and reducing the incidence of abandonment.
In a similar way, our mission and vision is to raise funding to support local animal welfare projects, co-operate with other organizations that seek to upgrade their facilities and services, inform and educate the public about animals, and to work with individuals or people who have a true passion for the animal well being
JAR is a group of Expats and Chinese individuals and we believe that every animal deserves to be safe, secure, healthy and in a loving home.
What positive outcomes has JAR achieved, since its formation? How has JAR influenced the relationship the Shanghai community has with pets?
Since the foundation of Jaiya’s Animal Rescue (a little bit over 2 years ago) we have had more than 500 pets adopted out to good loving homes. In a similar way, during all this time we have developed documents, handouts, educational talks, online sources and others to help educate the community about responsible pet ownership. Luckily, we believe that people is, little by little, taking a new approach to animal welfare in general and developing a better relation with dogs and cats in particular.
What reservations do you think is holding people back to foster or adopt? Are there any misconceptions we may have about fostering or adoptions you can clear up?
We believe that some people prefer to buy pets instead of adopting them just because that people is looking for “pure breed” or fashionable trendy races of dogs and cats.
Sadly enough some people might see pets like a symbol of status rather than a sweet companion that deserves care, love and attention.
We at JAR have mainly “mixed race” kind of pets that in the past suffered abandonment, starvation, abuse or sickness, but now they are healthy, sociable and friendly (but they are not pure race). Hereafter we try to encourage people to adopt these pets because they are as friendly as any other, but they have suffered a lot in the past and truly deserve forever loving homes. Besides, when people decide to buy pets, they are encouraging the puppy / kitten mill business, which profits on animal abuse and excess breeding.
Regarding our pet adoption procedure, it is important to know that some of our available animals may unfortunately have had bad experiences living on the streets (due to being abandoned and or being abused). However, with the help and care from rescuers, foster parents and our dog trainers these animals have recovered and are deemed adoptable. Hereafter, we are always seeking potential families who can adopt, have an open and loving heart to a homeless pet, and who are willing to have a pet for life.
The adopting family has to have a suitable and steady home for the animal, which means providing quality care and financial ability to cover medical costs. It is also beneficial for the families to have knowledge and experience in animal care.
The adopter needs to understand the local Rules & Regulations of the Chinese Government with regards to owning pets (especially dogs). In a similar way, pet owners must know that all animals (dogs and cats) must not be allowed to roam freely outdoors because of the multiple dangers that this entails (cat catchers, pet-napping, street accidents, etc). All dogs need to be on a leash at all times and to have their license up to date.
Spring and Summer brings about the most abandoned and stray animals out of all other seasons. Can you explain why?
In the Northern hemisphere March is the peak pregnancy month for cats, and by the first week of May, many kittens are “born feral”. This means that within a very short period of time thousands of little kittens start to show up in neighborhoods, parks and alleyways.
When these tiny kittens start poking their heads out of sheds, peeking out from beneath stairs, and taking their first look at the world, many people – even you or someone you know – will be turning to Jaiya’s Animal Rescue and other animal rescue groups for advice and resources. Consequently, very soon after they are born, the pleas for assistance will start pouring in. In this context, we do our best to provide critical information to help identify the most vulnerable kittens, those in need of the most care, the ones who are old enough to be spayed and neutered, and the kittens young enough to be socialized into a new household.
Given that Spring is the time when cat breeding goes on an ultimate high: how is JAR dealing with a sudden increase in cats breeding, and abandoned and strayed animals? In what state is JAR in now? What is the general state of all the animal rescue groups in Shanghai right now?
Since we do not have a shelter nor foster parents available at this moment (many of our own foster parents are taking vacations and travelling at this time of the year), at this moment we are absolutely overwhelmed with rescued animals. Certainly JAR is doing its best to get new foster parents, but with the summer holiday so near not many people wants to commit to help us.
So far during this season we have received many pleas for help and, given our lack of resources at this moment, we are encouraging people who has rescued kittens / cats or dogs to take them to the Vet, make sure that they get all the medical treatments needed, and that they are safe in their rescuer’s home until a foster parent or adopter shows up (whatever happens first).
Once the rescuer takes the kitten or puppy to the hospital the doctor will advice how is the health of the rescued pet and when he / she can get dewormed and its first vaccination.
At this season we have been also receiving pleas for help from other animal rescue groups that are also overwhelmed, so we know that other animal rescue groups are also experiencing problems.
Given that JAR is overwhelmed by multiple requests for help, and is no longer able to take more rescued animals: What can people do to help? What are our options? What actions are you calling people to do?
At this time of the year, if an animal is rescued, we ask the rescuer to help and provide a temporary home and medical care for the animal, while we do our best to find the animal a foster or permanent home (once the pet has had its health check and is deemed adoptable).
At this time of the year we ask rescuers to be more patient in taking care of their rescued pets for a longer period of time, as we are lacking resources to help everybody who needs help.
The most important thing that we are asking people to do when they find one or several kittens / puppies abandoned is: “Do not panic!” Indeed, rescuers need to face the situation without getting stressed or too emotional. If a kitten or puppy desperately needs help, the worst thing that people can do is to get nervous and desperate. They need to be calm and patient, and to make an effort in taking good care of the pet if they really want to help that stray animal to have a second chance in life.
By spaying or neutering our pets, we can greatly reduce the abundance of abandoned and strayed animals, so why is not everyone doing it? Are there any possible resistances from pet owners or rescuers? Do we have any alternative choices?
In our own experience dealing with rescuers and pets owners we have found out that many people in China wrongly believes that neutering/spaying is cruel to animals. Given these beliefs, we try to educate the general public on the positive aspects of spaying / neutering, hoping that people will understand how necessary are these procedures in a country where the pet abandonment and pet overpopulation (caused by breeding while abandoned) is creating a situation where animals suffer starvation, cruelty, disease and painful deaths (by disease, accidents or human cruelty).
In this context, JAR has a very important rule: all adoptable animals that are under JAR protection, when old enough, must be spayed / neutered. In this way we make sure that we are helping to reduce all the problems associated to pet abandonment and overpopulation in the city of Shanghai.
Can you help us understand the fatal repercussions if pet owners who do not spay or neuter their animals? And what is the long term effect in choosing to not spay or neuter our pets?
To prevent unwanted pets we encourage pet owners to act responsibly and have their pets neutered.
It is the socially responsible thing to do in any country and even more so here in China, where there is a vast surplus of cats and dogs.
Many of these unwanted animals end up abandoned or end up being rescued by organizations like JAR (whose resources to care for these animals are stretched beyond its limits). The fact is that many animals are neglected, even euthanized, if they are no longer wanted, or are left to become feral and continue to escalate the homeless animal population. These uncared for and unvaccinated pets continue to breed and spread diseases amongst their own feral communities.
Cats can reproduce at a very young age. Some as early as four months, but the average age would be six to nine months. They are not yet physically or mentally mature. They only weigh approximately 75% of their adult weight, but they are ready, willing and able to make babies. And they can continue to do so for many years to come. The estrus (heat) cycles of female cats are influenced by changes in the seasons and the amount of daylight available. Once a female cat begins a cycle of heat, she will continue to come back into heat every 14-21 days until she is bred. During her cycle of heat, a female cat may become a really obnoxious animal. She will most likely be extremely vocal, howling non stop while looking for a mate. She will roll around on the floor; rub against furniture, your legs or any object in reach. If you touch or talk to her, she may assume the breeding stance with her head and front legs on the ground and her rump up in the air. She may be overly affectionate, to the point where she will not leave you alone for a second. Lastly, she will need to urinate often in hopes of attracting her mate with scent. All this will last upwards of two weeks. Many people become very frustrated with this behavior and throw the cat outside to get a break … and guess what? Outside she will undoubtedly find what she was looking for, a willing male.
And all of this could have been prevented by having had her spayed. If she gets bred, you can expect a litter of kittens in 58 to 65 days. T
he average litter is four to six kittens. A female cat can have up to three litters a year. When you do the math, it is overwhelming. If one female cat and her kittens are left unspayed, they can produce a mind blowing 420,000 cats in seven years. Finding a home for all those cats is impossible! Hereafter, you will find that most animal shelters or responsible Vets recommend to neuter pets to help control this overpopulation and to avoid the suffering of unwanted animals.
Advantages to having your pets neutered
1. Male cats become less aggressive and lose their wanderlust.
2. Male cats are less likely to mark territory by spraying with their scent glands, which emit a strong odor unpleasant to humans.
3. Females will not go into heat.
4. You will not have the problem of getting rid of unwanted puppies or kittens.
5. Your animals will live longer.
6. Female cats have less risk of uterine infection (pyrometra) and breast cancer; they have no risk of ovarian cancer or uterine cancer (if the uterus has been removed). Female dogs have similar lowered risks.
7. Male dogs and cats are less likely to contract prostrate cancer.
8. Pets are more affectionate after they are neutered.
What has JAR done to solve the problem at its root?
Through our experience and what we have come across, the main problem we face are uneducated people, and their lack of knowledge and awareness about pet welfare/responsibilities.
JAR targets these “audiences”, as mentioned before, through education (holding adoption days, sending leaflets, exposure and presence through schools, establishments and organizations etc).
JAR and many other animal rescue groups have sent letters and pleas to the government to pass the “Animal Protection Laws”, to better control puppy / kitten mills that are in operation, to limit the amount of “pet stores” opening, and to ensure that legitimate licenses are issued.
We need more people to be compassionate towards our furry friends as these are pets that are meant to be in our homes and not neglected, abused or abandoned.
How can people help JAR?
- Adopt an animal or foster an animal.
- Offer part-time transportation.
- Inform/provide JAR information to the community, colleagues, family and friends.
- Make a donation (any amount given is greatly appreciated).
- Donate and/or provide Gifts-in-Kind items (Pet supplies such as animal bedding, used warm clothing, linens, towels, animal toys, food, bowls, cat toys).
- Become a private or corporate sponsor.
- Get friends and family to donate unwanted books and hold a book sale or sell books.
- Collecting pennies … every little helps a lot!
- Treat your pets with love and respect, and take good care of them!