April’s edition of the Purr-esident’s Press is all about Kitten Season. Yes, there is actually a season for kittens. Early spring through early fall is the time of year that we as rescues buckle down and fill our fosters and beg for more hands. It sounds like a long time, and it is. Outdoor cats take a good long break in the winter, but as soon as the warm weather creeps in, love is in the air.
Every year, we seem to get down to only of few adult cats in the rescue and then hold our breaths for the first sign, which will be someone posting on Facebook “I found this little kitten, what should I do?”. Very shortly after that, we are inundated with please for help. Just as an example, already this year, we went from 12 cats to 86 in two weeks and more are coming in every day.
So, I’d like to go over with you what you should do if you find kittens. Whether it is one little loner or an entire litter, the steps are the same.
Step 1 – Check their health – Is everyone breathing, warm, free of debris or wounds? Do their bellies look round? All looks good – Move on to Step 2. Something wrong – Jump to Step 4 or take them to a vet.
Step 2 – Check the area – Are they in a safe place? Out of site of birds of prey, neighborhood unfriendly dogs/cats. Out of direct sunlight or the heat of the day? If they are too cold, too hot or wet, be a sport and set up a bed, a cat carrier, a kennel, a box, something with warm blankets in the same spot and put the babies in there so they are warm and mom can be comfortable.
Step 3 – Check for Momma – If they are warm and have round bellies LEAVE THEM ALONE! Their momma is taking care of them. She may not be with them right now, but she will be back. She is off finding food for herself so she has energy to feed them. They have a much better chance of survival with their mom then if you take them away. If you have seen mom, great. If you haven’t seen mom, it’s probably because you are hovering and scaring her away. Mom shouldn’t stay away from newborns for more than 6 hours though. If it’s been over 12 hours and mom has not been back… and you are ABSOLUTELY SURE mom has not been back, get the babies inside and warm and go to Step 4.
Step 4 – Call a rescue – Get in touch with your local rescue and let them know what you have found. A reputable rescue will come and set up a trap to catch mom and take her and her babies together. If you take the babies, mom usually won’t come back and will just end up pregnant again. Even the most green foster can take in a feral mom and babies with a little training from a pro like me. The babies will have a 99% survival rate if mom is taking care of them. That rate drops tremendously if they are taken away and bottle fed. Once the babies are old enough to be fixed, momma goes along with them and then is TNR’d (Trap, neuter/spay, release) back to where she was caught. Babies will go to their forever homes and Mom will go along her merry way without getting into another “situation”.
Step 5 – Help Out – If you have fallen in love at first sight with the little nuggets and think you can foster, let the rescue know. We love new fosters all the time, but especially during kitten season. We give you everything you need to give them the best life including food, litter, toys, litter boxes, etc. You just supply your home and love. Can’t foster but still want to help? Ask me how much litter and kitten food we go through during kitten season? Go ahead, Ask. Truck Loads! Donate kitten food and litter. Order from your favorite online store and have it sent to us. Send some money so that we can buy it ourselves. Monetary donations also go to cover vaccines, microchips, spay/neuters and any medical needs we may have.
I really hope this gives you a little insight into what to do when finding bundles of fluff in your yard. We are here to help, but please understand that by mid kitten season, most rescues are going to be very full. If one is full, try another. Keep them safe and warm until you can find a taker. We are not telling you no just to say no. We only have so many fosters and when they are full, we have to turn babies away. Become a Foster. Tell a Friend. Donate. Volunteer.
President |AZ Center for Animal Rescue & Education |AZ CARE