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Get tips this 'Kitten Season' to ease the burden on animal shelters

KUTV Salt Lake City logo KUTV Salt Lake City 4/11/2021 Jennifer Weaver, KUTV
a person holding a cat © Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

Cute, cuddly, and fun to hold is something kittens are known for this time of year.

However,  animal shelters shudder every year during this same time dubbed, “Kitten Season,” which is known in the animal welfare field when un-spayed female cats have most of their litters. Animal shelters are inundated by orphaned kittens who need intensive care.

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“Cats can become pregnant at just four months old and the duration of feline pregnancy is approximately two months, so un-spayed community cats can have many litters in one season,” said Dr. Erin Katribe, veterinarian and medical director for Best Friends Animal Society in a news release.

So, what can you do to help? The path often starts with leaving outdoor kittens in place, according to Katribe, even if it seems like they’ve been abandoned or homeless and should be taken to a shelter right away.

"In most cases, removing the kittens away from where their mother is most likely going to return may end up putting them in even greater danger,” she said. “For shelters with already limited resources—such as money, food, space, and staffing— Kitten Season equates to making difficult life or death decisions for these fragile creatures that require 24-hour care. The large population causes an increased risk of illness and stress-induced problems, often making tiny kittens the most at-risk animals for being killed in shelters.”

“The best thing to do for healthy kittens,” Katribe explained, “is to leave them with their mother, who is often nearby planning to return and care for her babies.”

a close up of a cat © Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

Watch closely. If mom hasn’t returned for 10 to 12 hours, or if the kittens appear unhealthy, then it’s time to step in. Sick kittens may need veterinary attention right away.

But if they are healthy, you can care for the kittens yourself, right from the comfort of your home. Bestfriends.org offers resources and a video on caring for kittens.

Here are some other ways to help cats and kittens in your community:

  • Spay or neuter your pets and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
  • Choose to adopt a cat or kitten from a shelter or rescue group.
  • Support local efforts to Trap/Neuter/Return community cats.
  • Share about kittens in need on your social media channels and encourage followers to help.

For more information, visit www.bestfriends.org.

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