RUMFORD — A local animal shelter owner is advising cat owners to have their pets neutered this month to prevent an abundance of unwanted kittens in the spring.

Female cats can mate three or four times a year and now is a good time to have them neutered, Marsha McKenna, owner of McKennel’s Animal Adoption Agency, Boarding and Grooming, said

“Do it now. They generally take a break from mating between Christmas and mid-February,” she said.

In her 25-plus years in business, she said she is always inundated with kittens between May and June, and she’s preparing the shelter for that influx.

Once the kitten season begins, McKenna said local animal control officers often bring in 15 or more each day, quickly leading to overcrowding at the shelter at 88 Hall Hill Road.

She advised having female and male cats neutered. Kittens should be neutered by 5½ months old, she said.

The cost to spay a female can start at $130; to neuter a male, somewhat less. But over the life of a cat, dozens of kittens will not be left to starve or suffer some kind of premature death.

People who adopt some of the cats, kittens and dogs from her shelter pay $45 for each animal, which has been neutered and is up-to-date on shots, including rabies.

Besides eliminating dozens of unwanted kittens, neutering cats also helps them to stay healthier longer and to not wander as much as those who are intact, McKenna said.

“If people can’t adopt, they can drop off cat or dog food. Indoor formulas of Purina or Meow Mix are best for cats,” she said.

Last week, Dirigo Elementary School fourth-grader Tiasha Burgess concluded a pet food drive for McKennel’s. Boxes and bags of food, treats, and toys for cats and dogs were brought to the shelter.

“We get a lot of donations at Christmastime, but not so much at other times,” McKenna said, expressing thanks to the Peru student’s efforts.