The P.E.I. Humane Society says its shelter has hit capacity just before the holiday season.
The organization has seen a record number of animal intakes this year. It's currently on track to host 1,500 animals before Christmas, and that number could grow to 1,600.
"The available kennels at the shelter are full, as well as all of our foster homes across the Island are also full at this time," said Ashley Travis, development and communications coordinator with the society.
And for pandemic-related reasons, a lot of the new animals are newborn kittens.
Gayle Adams, a coordinator of the Cat Action Team's colony in West Prince, said one of the causes of the increase in kittens is that there's a big backlog of cats waiting to be spayed or neutered.
'One cat will suddenly become six'
"During the pandemic, numerous people, what they did is they decided to get a pet," said Adams, whose volunteer-run organization helps to care for and control the Island's feral and stray cat population.
"A lot of people have taken cats into their homes, so vet clinics in turn became a lot busier than they were before the pandemic."
Adams said she has a list of about 200 cats who are still waiting to go through the procedures.
"A lot of them are pregnant too. I've driven down [to the Humane Society] and had a litter of kittens born in my back seat on the drive down," she said.
"One cat will suddenly become six or seven cats."
The society said that trap and release programs don't enough volunteers due to the pandemic and that has also impacted the numbers.
"What's resulting is you have outdoor cats that are not only breeding last year, in 2020, but now their offspring are also breeding. And they don't care who they do it with," Travis said.
Travis said the kittens they receive can be very unhealthy, suffering from respiratory issues, ear mites, flees and other "not-so-nice ailments."
But she said they've at least been lucky in the fact that it's easier to get temporary caretakers for neonatal kittens than for other animals.
She said these tiny newborn kittens are usually able to stay with their moms until a foster home opens up, as long as the mother cat's owner or person who found the mother cat is willing to provide interim care.
Most of the other animals they're getting come from people facing eviction, or who need emergency housing while their owner deals with some type of crisis.
Travis said that in these cases, family or friends have had to care for the animal for a week or two until kennel space becomes available.
Adopt for the holidays
While the society doesn't usually encourage holiday adoptions to prevent unwanted pets and reduce stress on the animals, this year is different.
In response to the increase in intakes, Travis said the society is asking Islanders to open up their homes to a new pet this season.
"If you have room in your family for a pet ... please apply to adopt," said Travis.
"We have so many animals coming over the next couple of weeks. If you don't see an animal that suits your family right now on our website, keep checking back."
However, Travis recommends people who do want to get a pet to do so early, so the animals don't suffer unnecessary stress from the usual holiday hubbub.
More than 30 animals are currently on a wait list to get taken in by the society.