While kitten season might sound like simply a bonanza of cuteness,
this time of year comes with many challenges for those in animal welfare. Kittens are one of the most fragile and vulnerable of all shelter residents, so an uptick in their population also calls for a dramatic rise in the number of people caring for these animals.
The good news is there’s also ample opportunity for you to be a kitten-season superhero – and get in on all the cuteness. But before you put on your cape, there are a few things you need to know.
When Is Kitten Season?
Kitten season typically runs from March through November. “But it’s started late this year,” said Dean Daubert, Anderson Humane’s Senior Director of Human-Animal Connections, adding that this is likely due to the colder temperatures this spring. “They’ve just started trickling in,” he said.
“During this season, we’ll have up to 100 kittens at any given time.” By contrast, there are times when Anderson Humane’s shelters will have very few kittens in the winter months.
Why Are Kittens so Vulnerable?
Kittens younger than four weeks old who aren’t in the care of their mother need round-the-clock care. At this point, they can’t eat, use the bathroom, or regulate their temperature on their own. Without a mama cat to provide this help, they need a compassionate person to provide hands-on care every two to four hours.
The kittens also need help with socialization, both with humans and with other kittens, cleaning, and protection from infectious diseases.
How Can I Help?
“Our greatest need during kitten season is for fosters,” said Dean, adding that this is usually a three- to four-week commitment. Fosters bottle feed the youngest kittens a special formula, keep them warm with a heating pad, carefully bathe them, and manually stimulate them to urinate and defecate.
“We also have a need for fosters who care for weaned kittens until they are old enough to be adopted,” Dean said. Regardless of the animal’s age, Anderson Humane trains all of our foster families and offers support along the way. With such a huge need, our fosters are truly the superheroes of kitten season.
“And if you can’t foster, we also need formula, bottles, heating pads, and animal carriers,” Dean said. Learn more about fostering with or donating to Anderson Humane.
What Should I Do if I Find a Litter of Kittens?
If you stumble upon a litter of kittens outside somewhere, don’t do anything rash. “Make sure they truly are abandoned and that the mother isn’t off getting food for them,” Dean said. “It’s always better to have the mom raise them; they know how to survive.”
If it is clear that the kittens are orphaned, resist the urge to give them milk. They need a special kitten formula. Call Anderson Humane to arrange an evaluation and we will answer all your questions and hopefully find the kittens a foster family and, when they’re ready, a forever home.