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Kitten shortage in Northeast leads shelter to fly 40 to New York

by: Paige Fry, Palm Beach Post Updated:

Forty kittens are taking off from West Palm Beach to New York in a private jet.
Peggy Adams, Animal Rescue League

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A kitten shortage at animal shelters in the Northeast is prompting the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League to fly 40 felines to Long Island on a donated private plane this week.

Peggy Adams, a non-kill shelter, has become overcrowded with cats and kittens in the midst of South Florida’s kitten season, said Rich Anderson, its chief executive. At last count, it had 800 kittens at its site in suburban West Palm Beach or in foster care alone.

The kittens will fly 1,200 miles from Palm Beach International Airport to North Shore Animal League America in Port Washington on Long Island’s North Shore. Cats get sick during transportation, so a jet is the best way to transport them long distance, Anderson said.

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In Florida, free-roaming cats have the ability to survive the winter season and breed all year round, Anderson said. He estimated about 220,000 cats wander around Palm Beach County alone. Peggy Adams is currently trying to find homes for about 1,000 cats in its care — about 500 in the shelter, 430 in foster care and the rest in pet stores or hospice care. Unlike Florida, cats in New York and other northern states have a harder time surviving the harsh winters, causing a shortage of kittens during the summer season.

This is the first time Peggy Adams has been able to send a large quantity of cats on a jet, but it has previously done smaller-scale flights, Anderson said. All the cats taking flight are currently in foster care and will surpass the adoption step in Palm Beach. The New York shelter will spay and neuter the kittens, attend to their medical needs and place micro-chips in them.

Anderson said the flight serves as a reminder to cat owners to spay or neuter their pets, and if they’re kitten- or puppy-deprived, to consider fostering an animal to free up space in the shelter. If anyone has a private jet, Peggy Adams would love another donation of a flight for a bunch of furry passengers.

“We’re always looking for others to donate space on a plane to save these cats’ lives,” he said. “We’re hoping that more people step up.”