Contributed by April Peiffer
You’re walking through a local shopping complex, maybe distracted by the day’s events or plans for the evening, and suddenly you hear mewing. It is a sound easily recognized—kittens. Of course, you search for them, as any person with a kind heart would, out of concern for their well-being. There they are, underneath a bush, cuddled up together in an adorable little kitten pile, but Momma Cat is nowhere in sight.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
STOP! Don’t be a “kit-napper”. Before you spring into action, assess the situation to find out if they need intervention. If the kittens are not in immediate danger, injured, or suffering, find out if Momma Cat is nearby. You may not see her—she could be out hunting for food so she can feed her babies. Or she might be hiding from you. In either case, she is best equipped to care for her little ones and you should leave them where they are for the time being. To be sure she is around and able to care for them, you can wait and watch for her return or sprinkle some flour around the kittens. If, when you return a few hours later the flour has been disturbed, you know Momma Cat is taking care of her babies.
WHEN TO SHELTER
First, if they are sick, hurt, or in immediate danger, the shelter is ready to help.
Second, if the kittens are active—running, jumping, playing—and eating solid food, bring them to WCRAS; they will be spayed, neutered, and vaccinated, and staff will help find loving new homes.
Third, if you watch for Momma Cat and she hasn’t returned in 8 to 12 hours, the kittens need your help and you should bring them to the shelter.
Kitten season, also known as feline breeding season, occurs throughout the summer months. It is kitten season right now, and following this advice can help the shelter care for all of the animals brought or surrendered.
Outdoor female cats can occasionally have many litters in one season because the season lasts more than half the year. Cats are pregnant an average 64 days and have four to six kittens at a time. In the same litter, female cats can bear kittens from various dads. This is why kittens from the same litter can have such a wide range of appearances.
If you do bring kittens in, consider offering to foster them right away. This allows WCRAS to take them into the system, properly assessed, then fosters may take them home to help them grow big and strong enough for adoption.
Kitten fostering is very rewarding, and the shelter has a team of volunteer mentors ready to help owners learn all they need to know.
Remember, no one can care for kittens better than their momma and leaving kittens where you find them may be the best course of action.