Kitten Season has officially arrived, which means animal shelters and rescue groups will be faced with litters of kittens - and nowhere to put them. Founded in 1990, Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s largest advocacy organization dedicated to cats, offers five ways people can help cats and kittens:
1. Leave kittens with Mama Cat.
Kittens are best left with their mothers. Neonatal kittens (4 weeks or younger) need constant care and depend on Mom for all of their food. Kittens (5-8 weeks) can eat wet food but are still being weaned. To determine whether the mother is caring for the kittens, wait 2-4 hours to see if she returns; she could be out looking for food. Otherwise, a young kitten living alone outdoors should be taken in and fostered. If the kitten isn't weaned, she will require bottle-feeding and round-the-clock care. To determine a kitten's age, use Alley Cat Allies’ Kitten Progression Chart.
“If you come across a kitten outdoors, you may be tempted to bring her home with you, but that may not be the best thing for the kitten. Deciding whether to take a kitten home with you or leave her where she is should be carefully considered based on the individual kitten’s situation and age.”
-Becky Robinson, president and founder, Alley Cat Allies
2. Do not bring a neonatal kitten to an animal shelter.
Most shelter employees are not equipped or trained to provide constant care for neonatal kittens. If a kitten cannot eat on her own, she will likely be euthanized at a shelter. In fact, more than 70% of cats who enter shelters are euthanized, and that number rises to virtually 100% for feral cats taken to shelters.
3. Volunteer as a kitten foster parent for a local rescue group.
There are kitten foster parent programs associated with rescue groups across the country. It is time-consuming and requires training, but volunteering can save their lives. To learn the basics, register for Alley Cat Allies’ free “Help! I found a kitten!” webinar.
4. Support and practice Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).
TNR is the only effective and humane way of decreasing feral cat populations. In a TNR program, community cats are humanely trapped and brought to a vet to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped before being returned to their outdoor homes.
5. Support policies and programs that protect cats.
Let your shelter and local officials know that you support pro-cat ordinances including spay/neuter funding and spay/neuter before adoption. Write letters and call in support of community outreach and education programs that spread awareness about feral cats and TNR – you can make a big difference.
Click here for more information from Alley Cat Allies on kitten season and how to get involved.
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