Kibbles From Kim By Kimberly Jones-Kittens Everywhere
We once again find ourselves at the time of year that stresses us out more than any other: kitten season! Unlike the holiday season, which lasts about five weeks, kitten season can begin as early as March and continue until October. The cause of this is simply lack of spaying and neutering of our feline friends, with the greater burden then falling on shelters across the nation. However, there are things our loyal community can do to help us with this issue and it is easier than you may think.
One of the biggest burdens are kittens that are not yet weaned coming in without a mother because someone “found” them. Neonatal kittens are our most vulnerable population for several reasons:
- Bottle babies need around the clock feeding for the first few weeks of life. Only a small percentage of our foster homes have the ability to be bottle baby care givers due to working or other obligations.
- Kittens are delicate little creatures and we cannot always replace a mama cat no matter how hard we try.
- It is difficult to give newer foster volunteers bottle babies due to the fact that sometimes, they simply do not make it. This can devastate a new foster home and turn them off from fostering again.
You can help us to keep some bottle babies out of the shelter by following just a few simple steps.
If you find young kittens, quickly assess the situation. Are the kittens in a dangerous place such as near a road or on a path where dogs may be walked or children may be running by or over them? Keep in mind that though the mama cat can be gone for a few hours, the kittens will not starve during this length of time. It is more important that they are warm and that the weather is not wet or cold. Only move the kittens to a safer place if you have to leave and are unable to keep an eye on the litter until mama returns. Only move them if they are in immediate or grave danger.
Find a place to watch from a distance to see if mama cat returns. Provide mama with food and shelter if you can, but keep the food a safe distance from the shelter as mama will not want to attract any cats to her kittens. If you are able to leave them alone until the kittens are weaned and about 6 weeks old, that is the perfect time to begin socializing the kittens to humans. Handling them, petting them, helping them get accustomed to human touch and interaction is imperative to them being able to find homes. This is also a great time to get mama cat spayed. She can become pregnant again right away if she remains unaltered.
Once the kittens reach 8 weeks and two pounds, they are ready to be spayed or neutered. If you have the financial means to do this, we highly recommend it as it will take some financial stress off the shelter. If you are unable to financially support the birth of more unwanted litters, please bring them to us once they weigh two pounds. If you have socialized them, there is no reason they cannot be spayed or neutered here and placed right up on our adoption floor. Whether you can do it, or you give the kittens to us, the important thing is that they be altered before going out to a home. That is the only way we will ever decrease the cat overpopulation problem.
Not all seemingly “abandoned” kittens are lost; however, there is at times an unfortunate truth. Perhaps you can confirm that the Mama is not coming back because she has been hurt or killed. This does place the kittens in great jeopardy. They need to be bottle fed and cared for until they reach the two pound mark. A great resource for how to do this is the Animal Alliance of New York City (http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/wordpress/2013/05/what-to-do-and-not-do-if-you-find-a-newborn-kitten/). This site goes over bottle feeding, elimination and other things you would need to know in order to save these innocent lives. If you can house them and care for them until that two pound mark that we can spay or neuter them, you will save shelters much space and time as our foster homes tend to fill up during the warm months.
Please consider helping us save these precious lives. You doing your part will further increase our Live Release Rate of 87% so far this year and that is what saving lives is all about.