Well, it's that time of year again. The weather's getting warmer, the short sleeves are coming out and the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air. No, we're not talking about the upcoming Giant's home opener (although we do love us some Buster Posey).
It's kitten season, of course! From March through November, cats will start to breed, flooding local shelters with hundreds of orphaned litters. Here are a few quick tips for those of you who are bound to find baby kitties outside this Spring and Summer.
Step One: Look around for mom and/or littermates
Sometimes well-meaning people unknowingly separate kittens from their mother. Ultimately, the goal is to keep baby kittens with their mother for as long as possible for the best chance of survival. The mortality rate for kittens separated from their mothers is much higher than if they had been kept together.
Step Two: Observe from a distance
If the kittens are safe, but mom is nowhere in sight, you should quietly observe from a distance so as not to scare away a shy or feral mother. Mom cat will usually stay with her babies for one to two days after giving birth. After that, mom may leave for short periods to hunt for food or to look for a safer location to move her litter to. Mother cats will instinctively start moving her young one-by-one to a new location to ensure the safety of her litter.
Step Three: Use your best judgement
There is no general rule on how long you should wait for mom to return, but think in terms of just a couple hours. If the kittens are clean, plump, and sleeping quietly, chances are mom isn't far away and you are better off leaving them alone. On the other hand, if the kittens are dirty, in a soiled area or crying because they are hungry, it could mean they have been abandoned.
Step Four: Call a shelter!
If you are unsure of what to do, you can always call your local shelter for advice on when or if you should move a found kitten. If the kitten you have found is indeed an orphan, many shelters will ask if you are able to foster and care for the kitten until they reach an adoptable eight weeks of age. Here at HSSV, our Rescue and Foster Team fully prepares for kitten season by providing foster families with the necessary food, formula, supplies and medical care.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent for HSSV, please visit our website and fill out a foster care application. We are always in need of foster homes but now that kitten season is upon us, our need is even greater. If you are not able to contribute your time, consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us save future litters!
Found a kitten?
Check out these sites for the best resources on how to properly care for an orphan kitten:
Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty Rescue
Happy kitten season!