It's kitten season
June 5, 2021
Cat and Kitten season has begun and there is no shortage of beautiful cats and kittens to adopt!
The COVID pandemic has had an effect on the cat population in several ways. First of all, the usual number of spay and neuter clinics were cut way back due to prolonged closures, rise in the prices of supplies and, in our case, retirement and change in services. All of this resulted in less spays and neuters - hence, more cat population. People lose their employment, often their homes, and consequently their pets either get rehomed, abandoned or the spay and neuter just goes by the wayside. This has all added to excessive population and many of these cats can become feral.
While speaking of feral cats, as many cats and feral cat colonies tend to set up housekeeping near peoples’ homes, there are a few guidelines that make sense if you’re trying to help these cats. Often a mother cat may leave her litter of young kittens alone in what she considers a safe place while she hunts or forages for food. If she feels the least bit threatened, or feels you are interfering, she will almost certainly move her kittens. She can only move them one at a time, and sometimes kittens try to follow and get strung out along the way. If you see this and see that they are in actual danger, you can move the litter to a safe place, but be sure that they are still accessible to their mom. Don’t “kidnap” the litter! Their mom is their best chance of survival; it’s best to leave them alone.
If mom never comes back, you may provide food and water, but never cow’s milk. You can soak their dry food in kitten milk replacer only. If mom is feral and the kittens are close to weaning age, kittens have a better chance of getting homes if they aren’t feral; they can be tamed and socialized. Organizations like ours, Have a Heart Humane Society, has feral cat traps to lend, with a refundable deposit, so if mother is feral, and you wish to keep the family together, remember that there is a law that baby animals (puppies and kittens) must stay with their mothers until 8 weeks of age. It is illegal to give away or sell them before that age. Mom cat can be spayed by many feral cat organizations, usually free of charge, and she will be returned to where she came from, but there will be NO more babies. This would be the best good deed you could do.
Now, what should you do with those rascally kitties? If a rescue like ours takes them in, we will provide inoculations, deworming, microchip and spay or neuter services, and we place them in a loving foster home until they find a forever home. (By the way, if you are an approved foster, YOU could be their foster.) We do our best to take in as many kittens as possible, but when we are full, although it kills us, we will have to say no. We will screen potential adopters and find the best homes for these sweet babies.
If you are a cat lover, think about these guidelines for helping the numerous litters that are now appearing around Tehachapi and Kern County.