PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – They are cute, cuddly and can make the perfect pet.

Spring is here and for animal shelters across the nation, so is kitten season.

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However, the season is not as cute as it sounds.

“Every spring we just get inundated with kittens here at the Animal Rescue League. It starts just when the weather starts getting warm. So, we’re just starting to see the effects now and it will go all summer long,” Dan Rossi said.

As litters begin to trickle in, animal advocates, including Rossi with the Animal Rescue League, worry that because of the mild winter, breeding season may start earlier this year.

“Last year, we had about 4,000 cats and kittens. We expect it to be the same or even more given the mildness that we’ve had,” Rossi said.

As shelters take in more kittens, space becomes a big problem.

At the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, employees free up room by sending kittens to temporary foster homes.

“Fosters, especially in a busy kitten season, are the number one way that you can save more lives,” Mary Withrow said. “It’s a really easy thing to do, we always say that to people. Honestly, if you have a spare bathroom or a spare little room, they are easy to take care of.”

While shelters are struggling with the existing problem, trap-neuter-return initiatives popping up across the United States are focusing on the root of the issue.

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The technique involves identifying a stray, setting a trap to catch it, bringing it to get neutered or spayed and then returning the animal to its original location.

The Homeless Cat Management Team is a non-profit trap-neuter-return program.

The team focuses its efforts on spaying or neutering packs or colonies of cats.

“We try to trap all the cats in the area, we spay and neuter them. We ear-tip their left ears, which is the universal sign that they’ve been altered,” Michelle Miller, of the Homeless Cat Management Team, said.

Trap-neuter-return programs are vital, but for those with cats at home, the City’s Bureau of Animal Care and Control offers free options to ensure you don’t end up in a house crawling with kittens.

“The city has a great spay and neuter program, which people can also use for community cats. So, if they’re getting involved in the trap-neuter-return programs, they’re welcome to use our free spay and neuter program for up to five of those cats per household,” Pittsburgh Animal Care and Control Supervisor Taylor Sumansky said.

Area shelters welcome donations, as they prepare for the upcoming season.

For a list of suggested supplies the shelters could use, visit the Animal Rescue League website and the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society website.

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