by Paula Hunsaker
As we are starting to see kittens being found by the public, and as a rescue group, we are bracing ourselves for the flood of underage kittens coming into shelters. While we know our public has the best intentions when bringing the kittens to high-kill shelters, the best thing we could possibly do for these kittens is to leave them alone. Mom cat knows what is best for her babies, and because of this, it is critical that they stay with her. Often, she is out hunting and will return to check on and care for all of her babies. As a rescue group that pulls kittens from high-kill shelters, we suggest giving her at least eight to ten hours to return before stepping in. In the meantime, you can watch for her from a safe distance, but please do not hover over her babies. If she sees you, she may be scared and not return.
So, what can you do? Watch mom and babies from a distance over the next six weeks, and once the kittens are old enough to eat on their own, they can be removed and placed in a foster home that the shelter works with or with a rescue group, and then mom can be trapped and fixed! This all depends on availability of fosters that work with the high-kill shelters. If there are no fosters available that work with these shelters, sometimes they will reach out to rescue groups for help with the kittens pouring into the shelters during kitten season. With the high volume of kittens coming into the shelters each springtime, having taken a kitten away from the mom too soon and then taken to a high-kill shelter will most likely have to be euthanized. If kittens delivered to the shelter weigh under 2.5 lbs., they will most likely be put down because knowing from when their intake time is up can be a little as five to seven days. When you bring a newborn kitten to the high-kill shelter thinking they are going to be taken care of, most likely they will be euthanized. And kittens coming into the high-kill shelters get sick amazingly fast with upper respiratory infections (URI) and most likely won’t recover because they are so young, and they can possibly pass it on to siblings. A mom at the shelter can get URI and easily pass it on to her babies. In most cases, the mother cat with kittens cannot be adopted out to the public! So, it is up to you to decide if you want to take a mother cat with kittens or kittens alone to a high-kill shelter. It is something you need to be aware of, which is a sad fact that those of us in animal rescue groups have to deal with.
We realize the public thinks they are doing the right thing taking kittens under 2.5 lbs. or moms with kittens to a high-kill shelter thinking they abandoned, but they will most likely never make it out of the high-kill shelter alive. We see this so much during kitten season where they’re being dropped off at high-kill shelters. So, why don’t we help more? As a cat rescue group it depends on our availability capacity to house more cats and vet them. It also depends on our funding donations and how many we can afford to save. So we ask you not to give them a death sentence before they have a chance to have a life! It is the same policy for friendly moms or feral moms. Reach out to a rescue group to help show you how to care for a kitten without a mom or a mom with kittens. Just give them a chance for a life! The simple way to fix this circle from repeating itself is just to simply Fix Your Cats! Or if there is a feral mom that keeps having kittens, there are programs out there to get them fixed. It’s called TNR: Trap-Neuter-Return. You will never know about these programs that can help fix a cat if you don’t ask for information!
Let’s all help to give cats a better life by stepping up to get them fixed, and give them a chance. Kitten Season is truly a sad season, especially when they are so amazingly beautiful kitties. What will you do?
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section & watch for more stories from Feral Paws every other month, and we would love to have you join our KRL Pets Facebook group. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Feral Paws.