It’s starting. What all open admission animal shelters dread – kitten season. The time of year when the stray and feral cats give birth to their litters of kittens, and people bring them into the shelters because they don’t know what else to do with them. Kitten season lasts from now until the late fall when the weather gets colder. Shelters will see hundreds/thousands of cats and kittens turned in during these months. It is a HUGE problem and accounts for the largest percentage of animals in shelters and very sadly, the biggest reason for euthanasia.
Someone called into a talk show on WEEU radio this week and asked for advice on what to do about a cat who had kittens in her yard. The woman stated that she didn’t want to bring them to the ARL because “they just kill them.” Whoa!!! It’s so sad that people are uninformed and make these blanket statements.
Here is the truth about what the ARL does with kittens:
1. If the mother is with the kittens, we will look for foster homes. Very often, staff members and volunteers step up to this task and bring the animals into their own homes.
2. We contact area cat rescue groups to see if they can take them.
3. The ARL has established relationships with several other shelters who will help if we need assistance.
4. If kittens are brought in without the mother and they must be bottle-fed, this is the most challenging scenario because we must find homes who are willing to commit to bottle feeding the kittens. This is difficult and arduous work. Not many people will do this.
5. Our last resort is humane euthanasia when all other options have been exhausted. If we are out of space, have no foster homes available, and other shelters or rescues are full, we have no choice. As the only open admission shelter in the area, we do not turn away any animal and we do our best to find them homes.
Things to Consider if You Find Kittens:
- A mother cat will periodically leave her nest to hunt for food. If you see young kittens without their mother, it is likely she will return. It is always better for young kittens to remain with their mother. As discussed above, pre-weaned kittens (under 4 weeks) without a mother are very difficult to care for. The mother should return to the nest within a few hours if you watch quietly from a distance.
- A mother cat may also regularly move her nest of kittens instinctively. If you see a single young kitten, it is likely that it’s the first of the group moved to a new location or the last of the group in the old location.
To stop the killing, we need the help of the public. People simply should not assume that it’s someone else’s problem. No shelter wants to kill animals. We can’t do it all alone - we need the public to help us to minimize the numbers of cats and kittens who come into shelters. Spay and neuter! If you know someone who is feeding stray cats, offer advice on where to get low-cost spay and neuter. Fairchild Foundation is making a difference in this community by helping with trap-neuter-release (TNR) services.
Please be a part of the solution – spread the word to help prevent homeless animals.