Kitten Season Reminders
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What is “Kitten Season”?
After the dark, cold winter, we excitedly anticipate the warmer Spring weather and its delightful scent of blossoms and grass. However, ask any animal welfare volunteer or employee what Spring season means to them, and they may respond with a term describing the growth of something other than flowers. “Kitten Season” refers to the period when litters of kittens are born, generally beginning with the warmer weather and potentially lasting until the end of the year. In 2017, HSU received 1,595 kittens into our Foster Care program, and thousands more were brought to shelters and rescue groups across the state!
While newborn kittens are adorable and it can be tempting to pick up small kittens you might find outside, these fragile babies do best with their mother raising them, and it can be a deadly mistake to take kittens away prematurely. We offer the following tips to consider if you find a single kitten or a nest of kittens outside.
• Are the kittens clean and quiet or sleeping?
If yes, a mom is likely caring for them, and you should leave them alone. The mom may be out searching for food or in the process of moving them to a different location. Also, the mother may not return if she senses a human near her nest. Here is a trick, create a large circle around the area with flour and leave. Return after a couple of hours to check for paw prints in the flour and reassess the kittens’ condition. If you determined that the mom is caring for her kittens and the area is safe, you may provide shelter and regular food for the mom, but keep the food at a distance from the nest. The mother may not accept your shelter if food is nearby because she might fear it will attract other unwelcome cats to her location. Once kittens are weaned, around 4-6 weeks of age, contact your local animal control services to ask about trapping mom and her kittens to all be spayed/neutered. A mom cat can become pregnant even while still nursing!
• Are the kittens dirty, crying and cold?
Neonatal kittens are more at risk of hypothermia than they are of starvation. It is safer to wait and see if a mom returns in warmer weather than in colder temperatures. If you determine that they appear neglected, hungry or in immediate danger, it is important to take action fast. Are you prepared to bottle feed and care for them until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered and adopted? If so, contact HSU’s Foster Care Department for information and resources. Otherwise, place the kittens in a box with a blanket, preferably with a low-heat heating pad under the blanket, and take them to your local animal control shelter.
• Become a Foster Parent.
HSU receives kittens with and without their mom nearly every day during Kitten Season. We are always in need of dependable foster care volunteers willing to open up their homes to help with precious litters of bottle feeding orphans and other kittens who still have their mom. Are you willing to bottle feed, wean, socialize and provide medical care to ensure each kitten can find a home of his or her own? If you said yes, then you can become a life-saver. Read more at www.utahhumane.org/foster.