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North Hills Monthly

Why ‘Kitten Season’ is Much More Serious than It Sounds

May 31, 2016 01:50PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine
At Animal Friends, each spring marks the beginning of what is known by many as ‘kitten season.’ And it’s not as fun as it sounds.

Between late spring and early fall, thousands of kittens are born in our region to stray and feral cats that are becoming active after a long winter. From April through August of 2015 alone, Animal Friends brought in 385 kittens.

With such an influx in cats in need of immediate help and a limited amount of space, volunteers and resources, kitten season can be a difficult time for any shelter.

The sudden spike in the cat population this spring means many residents will likely encounter a litter of kittens in a window well, in a bush or in a garden. When this happens, there are several important things to bear in mind.

Do not attempt to pick up or move a litter of kittens.
Mother cats can often leave their kittens alone for up to three or four hours while they are out finding food or searching for a new location. If you’ve been watching a group of kittens and are not sure if the mother is returning, try sprinkling baby powder in the area and looking for footprints. Kittens should never be taken away from their mother.

If you’re certain a litter is abandoned, know what to do.
While the best-case scenario is always to bring a mother and her kittens to the shelter together, this is not always possible with stray litters. Keep in mind that kittens require a constant source of heat and must eat every two to four hours. They cannot drink dairy milk or water so it is always important to have a plan before taking in a litter of kittens. When in doubt, always contact a shelter to ask for instructions.

Once the kittens are in our care, the fight is just beginning.
Many stray kittens are often exposed to fleas, upper respiratory problems and countless other medical complications. With very fragile immune systems, kittens under four weeks old require 24-hour supervision and must receive deworming and flea treatments every two weeks. When they reach two pounds, they are spayed or neutered, helping to proactively decrease the number of stray and unwanted animals in the area. Once they reach a weight of 2-1/2 pounds and are given a clean bill of health, kittens are ready to be adopted.

The road to adoption for a stray kitten is certainly not an easy one and without aggressive spay/neuter programs combatting overpopulation, this journey will only become more difficult. By continuing to provide education and valuable resources to pet owners, Animal Friends is helping to end kitten season once and for all.

You can get involved with Animal Friends this June by sponsoring a spay/neuter, attending some cat-themed June events, or donating an item on Animal Friends’ Amazon Wish List. And remember, June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month so stop by Animal Friends and you just might find the perfect furry friend!