BALTIMORE — They're small, furry and adorable, and they're coming in by the dozens to shelters across the state.
Welcome to kitten season, says Kaitlyn Thomas, the foster coordinator at the Maryland SPCA.
"Starting in the spring, the shelters around Maryland get hundreds of kittens," she said. "This is mainly because cats are having babies during this time when it gets warm."
Last year, Thomas says the Maryland SPCA took in around 750 underage kittens, which are less than 8 weeks old, and even more kittens over the age of 8 weeks.
When kitten season starts, Thomas says they rely heavily on their foster parents to help care for them.
"Foster parents are lifesavers. Without them we wouldn't be able to take in these kittens," she said.
Betsy Wightman is fostering her first "bottle baby", a two-week-old kitten named Beep. Bottle babies are ones that come to the shelter underage without a mom and need around-the-clock care.
Wightman says the constant feedings are worth the sleepless nights.
"It's something I feel is a little thing that we can do to make a big difference in a cat's life," she said. "I think being able to help out in this way was really important to me and it's something I can do not just for the animals but for our community here in Baltimore."
Peggy Gunzelman has been fostering animals for three years. She's currently caring for a five-week-old kitten named Baby Groot and a six-week-old kitten named Jane.
"It's always hard to give them up but knowing they're going some place where they're going to be loved makes a big difference," she said. "And knowing that you've had a part in their life is awesome."
Foster parents like Wightman and Gunzelman are given kitten baskets filled with supplies to care for the babies like bottles, special kitten food, thermometers and scales. The Maryland SPCA also has a 24-hour emergency support line that foster parents can call if they need help.
The Kitten Shower on Saturday May 11 will help the shelter stockpile the supplies needed to get them through kitten season.
"Our foster parents really are the ones who allow us to save lives," said Thomas.
The Kitten Shower will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Maryland SPCA at 3300 Falls Road in Baltimore. There will be kittens to cuddle and more information about becoming a foster parent.
To see a list of what items the shelter needs for the kittens, click here. You can also use the link to purchase items directly online if you are unable to attend the shower.