BURLINGTON, ON--(Marketwired - April 27, 2017) - Say the words "kitten season" and most people imagine a daisy field filled with fluffy kittens romping around. But Steven Kaufman, a certified animal welfare administrator and centre of excellence manager for adoptions at PetSmart Charities, notes that cute as kittens are, spring's kitten season can be one of the most challenging times of the year for animal welfare organizations.

"It's estimated that 20 million kittens will be born this spring. To put that in perspective, that's twice as many kittens as there are people living in Toronto," said Kaufman. "As a result, the waiting rooms of veterinary clinics, animal welfare agencies, rescues and shelters are overrun with people holding boxes of unplanned litters of homeless kittens. It's challenging to find the resources, volunteers and finances to provide food, shelter, vaccinations and veterinary care to so many kittens during such a short amount of time, not to mention finding them the forever homes they deserve."

To better understand perceptions of pet homelessness, a recent online survey of 1,000 Canadian pet owners was commissioned by PetSmart Charities of Canada and conducted by Wakefield Research. The survey revealed that the vast majority of people significantly underestimate the number of pets entering shelters. Eighty-seven percent of Canadians surveyed believe less than one million homeless pets enter shelters each year in North America, but the actual annual number is closer to 6.5 million.

That's why PetSmart and PetSmart Charities want to find homes for as many kittens, cats, dogs and wonderful pets as possible by encouraging North Americans to visit May National Adoption Weekend events held at more than 1,500 PetSmart stores across North America over May 5-7. With the help of thousands of animal welfare organizations across the continent, the leading pet retailer and its independent non-profit hope to find forever homes for more than 24,000 pets over the weekend. Nearly half of the adoptable pets are expected to be cats and kittens.

"At PetSmart Charities of Canada, we're committed to finding forever homes for all pets, but at this time of year, the need for finding adoptive families for kittens and cats increases exponentially," says David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., and president of PetSmart Charities of Canada. "While kittens tend to find homes very quickly, adult female cats, especially those that are about to or have just had a litter, are often abandoned and they're in need of forever homes, too."

To help find homes for as many kittens and cats as possible, Kaufman and Haworth are sharing four little-known facts about felines.

Cat-Fact #1: One Cat Can Have Up to 100 Kittens in Their Lifetime
Cats can become pregnant at just five months of age and they can have up to three litters per year. With each litter ranging between one and eight kittens, that means one cat could potentially have more than 100 kittens during their lifetime. That's why it's so important to spay or neuter pets. Most pets adopted at PetSmart Charities National Adoption Weekends are already spayed/neutered, veterinarian-checked and vaccinated against illness.

Cat-Fact #2: Cats are Great Communicators
Cats make more than 100 different sounds, and they only meow to communicate with humans. To communicate with another feline, cats will most often purr, hiss or spit. Cats are such great human-to-pet communicators that they've been known to change their meow to help pet parents understand their needs. Some experts have theorized this explains why the sound of a cat's meow when they are asking for food sounds very similar to a crying baby.

Cat-Fact #3: The Cat-Healing Benefits of Purring
Most people think cats purr because they are happy, and that may be true, but cats also purr when they are nervous and sick, too. Veterinarians like Dr. Haworth believe cats use purring as a self-soothing method that may even help them heal. The frequency of the vibrations caused when a cat purrs is the same frequency that promotes increased bone density and muscle restoration.

Cat-Fact #4: Cats Can Be a Righty or a Lefty
It's not just humans who are right-handed or left-handed, cats have a preferred paw, too. Most female cats prefer using their right paw, while male cats are more likely to be lefties. So if you're looking to adopt a pet that shares your dominant dexterity, visit PetSmart Charities National Adoption Weekend.

Not a Cat Person? In addition to cats and kittens, rest assured you'll find puppies and dogs, rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs and more at PetSmart and PetSmart Charities National Adoption Weekend. If you're searching for a particular kind of pet, call the PetSmart store nearest you to find out what variety of pets the local store's adoption partner expects to have on-site.

Not looking for a pet? You can still help animal welfare organizations cope with kitten season by participating in PetSmart's Pet Supply Drive, May 1-28, where shoppers can purchase/donate much-needed items at all stores across North America. PetSmart will deliver all donated items to local animal welfare groups to help them care for homeless pets. And when shoppers purchase any bag of dog or cat food, PetSmart will donate a meal to a pet in need through its Buy a Bag, Give a Meal™ program. From Mar. 1 - Dec. 31, 2017, PetSmart will give a meal to a pet in need for any and every bag of dog or cat food purchased in its more than 1,500 stores and online at www.PetSmart.ca. PetSmart expects to donate more than 60 million meals* through this initiative -- the biggest philanthropic campaign in its 30-year history.

PetSmart Charities of Canada's May National Adoption Weekend:

Date:May 5 - 7, 2017
Time:Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
 Sunday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Location:Nearly all 1,500-plus PetSmart stores across North America.
 Visit www.petsmart.ca to find the store nearest you.

A Free Gift for Those Who Adopt:

Regardless of the type of four-legged friend you or your family choose to adopt or where you adopt, PetSmart offers a free Adoption Kit** that provides important content on how to integrate a new pet into the family and adds true value -- more than $450 in free items and discounts on pet essentials and services. Included are coupons for a free bag of dog or cat food from Simply Nourish™, Authority® or Good Natured™, a complimentary private training session with an accredited trainer, a free Doggie Day Camp session and a free overnight boarding stay, as well as half-off on a grooming service. Also included are savings on all the essentials for a new pet including beds, crates, gates, brushes, feeding bowls, collars, leashes, toys and treats, as well as solutions like pet calming products and stain and odor remedies for any mishaps that may occur.
**Adoption papers required.

About PetSmart®

In Canada, PetSmart is the largest specialty pet retailer of services and solutions for the lifetime needs of pets. At PetSmart, we love pets, and we believe pets make us better people. Every day with every connection, PetSmart's passionate associates help bring pet parents closer to their pets so they, together, can live more fulfilled lives. This vision impacts everything we do for our customers, the way we support our associates and how we give back to our communities. We employ more than 3,600 associates and operate over 123 pet stores across Canada, with seven operating in-store PetSmart® PetsHotel™ dog and cat boarding facilities. PetSmart provides a broad range of competitively priced pet food and products, as well as pet-focused services such as dog training, pet grooming, pet boarding, PetSmart® Doggie Day Camp® and pet adoption. PetSmart, together with non-profit PetSmart Charities™ of Canada, invite more than 200 animal welfare organizations to bring adoptable pets into stores so they have the best chance possible of finding a forever home. Through this in-store adoption program and other signature events, PetSmart has facilitated more than 225,000 pets since 1999. The company's portfolio of digital resources for pet parents includes PetSmart.ca, Pet360.com, petMD.com and the askPETMD app. Through these digital platforms, PetSmart offers the most comprehensive online pet supplies and pet care information in Canada. In March 2017, PetSmart launched its Buy a Bag, Give a Meal™ program -- for every bag of cat or dog food purchased March 1 - Dec. 31, 2017, PetSmart will donate a meal to pets in need and expects to donate more than 3.6 million meals in Canada in 2017.*

*Ends 12/31/17. 5 oz. dog food, 1.5 oz. cat food donated to PetSmart Charities to feed dogs and cats in need. See details at petsmart.com/giveameal. The actual number of meals donated is based on dog and cat food bags sold. The meal donation estimate is based on historic sales for similar time periods. No guaranteed amount. Rescue Bank and Feeding America will help distribute a large portion of the pet food donation in the U.S.

About PetSmart Charities™ of Canada

PetSmart Charities of Canada is a registered Canadian charity with a mission to find lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. In addition to finding homes for more than 25,000 shelter pets each year through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart stores, PetSmart Charities of Canada provides funding to registered charities aligned with its mission through four key areas of grant support: Preventing Pet Homelessness; Helping Shelter Pets Thrive; Supporting the Bond Between People and Pets; and Emergency Relief and Disaster Support. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities of Canada using the pin pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses 89 cents of every dollar donated and has become a leading funder of animal welfare in Canada, donating nearly $12 million to date. PetSmart Charities of Canada is a member of Imagine Canada, and a registered Canadian charity independent from PetSmart, Inc. To learn more, visit www.petsmartcharities.ca

Follow PetSmart on Twitter: @PetSmart and on Instagram: @PetSmart

Find PetSmart on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/PetSmartCanada

See PetSmart on YouTube: www.YouTube.com/PetSmart

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Contact Information:

Golin for PetSmart Canada
Miriam Fitting
416-483-6225 ext. 3440