Spring is in the air, which can mean only one thing–it’s almost kitten season! Kitten season sounds like a cute overload holiday, but it’s not all fun and games. Many shelters and rescues get overwhelmed with the influx of kittens.
The occurrence of kitten season is due to female cats’ heat cycles synchronizing with warm weather. Any unaltered female cat roaming outdoors from spring until fall is at risk of becoming pregnant. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the best thing to do to help animal shelters avoid kitten and cat overpopulation is to spay and neuter cats. Trap-Neuter-Return is a humane way to combat overpopulation by trapping feral cats and kittens, sterilizing them, and returning them to their colonies.
If you see an abandoned kitten litter, wait and watch from a distance to see if the mother returns. According to Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies, “If kittens are not handled in the first weeks of their lives, they are not socialized to humans, and are thus ‘feral’. Older kittens are probably better off left in their outdoor home.” If the mother cat does not return, the kittens can be socialized and adopted or trapped, neutered, and returned, depending on the age. Either way, all the cats should be spayed/neutered to prevent future litters.
Check with your local shelters and rescues to see what supplies they need donated to help with kitten season.
For more information about caring for and socializing kittens, as well as tips on starting a Trap-Neuter-Return program and connecting with Feral Friends, check out Alley Cat Allies’ website.