This graphic displays how cat and dog populations can grow exponentially. The Unicoi County Animal Shelter says spaying and neutering pets is vital to controlling the pet population. (Image contributed by the Unicoi County Animal Shelter)

By Linda Mathes

A reminder from the Unicoi County Animal Shelter on the importance of spaying or neutering your cat or kitten.

Our prolific kitty chart (pictured) details that in the first year a cat can have 12 offspring and by the fourth year could be responsible for 20,736 offspring.

Many of the offspring do not survive due to illness, neglect and abuse, but even with a minimum of offspring surviving they add to the overpopulation of kittens and cats.

The shelter encourages Unicoi County residents to take advantage of the ongoing monthly lowcost spay/neuter program in partnership with the Margaret B. Mitchell Spay & Neuter Clinic and the Unicoi County Humane Society.

Male cats are $35, female cats are $50 and all dogs are $55. These fees include surgery, rabies vaccination and supplemental pain medications.  The next date for the clinic is Thursday, June 27, and all pets must be registered at the shelter by Saturday, June 21.

Just spaying or neutering one cat can make a difference.

In addition to the spay/neuter program the shelter is sponsoring the “Katherine Save The Kitty Program” name after Katherine, a young cat brought to the shelter and within minutes of arriving gave birth to 10 kittens. Unfortunately, the kittens did not survive, but when Katherine was healthy she was spayed and later adopted into her forever home.

The save the kitten program is an opportunity to help the shelter by sponsoring the adoption of a kitten for a donation of $80.

Your donation covers the spay/neuter surgery, necessary vaccines, rabies vaccination and microchip and the sponsor is welcome to come to the shelter and choose the kitten they want to sponsor.

At the present time the shelter has approximately 40 kittens in our care, some of them were born here and others were brought to the shelter by concerned citizens.

For further information on these programs please call the shelter at 743-3071 or come by the shelter during open hours Tuesday-Saturday from 1-5:30 p.m. The shelter is located at 185 N. Industrial Drive, Erwin.