CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Kitten season is officially at its peak right now and can put a strain on local shelters and fosters.

Luis Quintanilla, the executive director at the Humane Society of Harlingen, said although the season has started cats breed in the valley for most of the year.

“Kitten season is kind of the term that we throw around in animal welfare, around shelters, and even around veterinarian clinics, and it’s sort of the indicator for when the heavy influx of new litters is being born,” said Quintanilla.

He said that the shelter usually gets a break from kittens during the winter season.

Quintanilla explained that one solution to stopping the influx of kittens is to get cats spayed or neutered but said it is not easy for everyone.

“The heart of this entire problem is a lack of access to affordable spay and neuter and that’s what we’re trying to address here,” he said.

He added that the shortage of veterinarians can also have an impact, but recommended not taking stray cats to the shelter as a solution.

“The shelter is the last-ditch effort to try to save an animal, it begins at home with people fostering, it begins at home with people collecting that data, so we know where to target,” he said.

He said the shelter has been able to remain “no-kill” because the community has stepped up to help and they are focusing their attention on spaying and neutering.

Wendy Conger, treasurer for the animal rescue group, Donja’s Dogs, said they are seeing an increase in cats and kittens needing to be rescued.

“We have over 50 kittens in foster care right now. Some litters, some singles, some moms with babies,” said Conger.

She said the rescue grou[ recently started helping with getting cats into the appropriate care and homes, but with the influx, resources such as food and kitten formula, litter, and litter boxes are needed but most importantly fosters.

“I always need more fosters because I don’t want to overwhelm the ones that we already have,” she said

Quintanilla and Conger recommend leaving stray kittens in their spot for their mother to care for them, but said they are available to educate and provide some resources.

Conger said spaying and neutering is the most important thing to do in order to stop the influx of kittens but wants the community to know there are other ways to help.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s us, the shelter, or any other rescue, help them. They all need the same things, they’re going to need supplies, they’re going to need fosters. There are all kinds of ways that you can help, it doesn’t have to be money. Just volunteer a little bit of your time,” she said.