Kitten Season: How to Rescue Helpless Babies
Spring is in the air. It's a time of renewal and for animal babies to be born. This is especially true for kittens!
Kitten season can, unfortunately, be a dangerous time for these helpless babies. For one thing, many times it's the kittens having kittens! Did you know that a cat as young as 4 months of age can become pregnant? So be sure to have young cats spayed as early as medically possible to prevent unexpected litters.
Without spaying or neutering, thousands of cats will continue to fill shelters and be killed. To make a difference, start with sterilizing your own pets. Next, consider becoming involved in a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) campaign to stabilize feral cat populations should you have a cat colony living near you.
Let the cat mother do her job. Should you find a litter of kittens on your property what should you do? If you don't see a mother cat nearby, she may have wandered off to find a meal to help support in her care of hungry kittens. Watch and wait to give the mother the best chance to care for her own kittens.
It's always best to let the mother take care of her young as they are completely dependent on her for the first 4 weeks of life. It may take the mother up to 4 hours to return to the kittens. If it appears that the kittens have been abandoned, you'll need to bottle feed the kittens around the clock! For a guide for caring for abandoned newborn kittens, visit Alley Cat Allies.
Don't take young kittens to a shelter. Shelters are often understaffed and not able to care for kittens under 4 weeks of age. Due to the intense care with having to bottle feed, burp and help with elimination every few hours, most shelters cannot accommodate tiny kittens. Therefore, these helpless babies will be killed.
Even older cats and kittens should not be taken to shelters if at all possible. Seven out of ten cats admitted to shelters won't make it out alive, and neonatal kittens are especially vulnerable.
For more information on care for kittens, visit the ASPCA.
Have you ever cared for newborn kittens? Would you consider volunteering to help a shelter during kitten season?