It’s the time of year when cats give birth and shelters are overflowing with adorable, squishy babies — many of whom need homes, love and sometimes round-the-clock bottle-feeding.
While it hurts to admit your Instagram hearts will do nothing to help the overwhelming influx of felines that shelters face this time of year, you should know there are some very real things you can do to help.
We asked the Good Mews Animal Foundation, a no-kill haven for homeless, abused or abandoned cats, to give us their best tips for aiding crazy cute kittens during kitten season. Read on for great ways to help and if you’ve been looking to add a new member to the family, the time is definitely MEOW.
1. Donate extra funds to your local shelters.
Kittens, kittens, everywhere! We know, it sounds like the best thing ever, but the reality is animal shelters are strapped in more ways than one. “Kitten season is not only a tough time for shelters in time and space constraints but also in funding,” says Elizabeth Finch, Vice President, Board of Directors, for Good Mews. “Most kittens that come into the care of rescues either already have or quickly develop eye, ear, and upper respiratory infections and this requires medication and veterinary care. Putting a few extra dollars, even small amounts, toward your local shelters during this time helps to offset that cost and may allow the shelter to bring in additional kittens from high-kill facilities.”
2. Donate supplies.
Many times a litter of kittens has a mom who is MIA, so they require round-the-clock bottle feeding from shelter staff. “Donations of kitten milk replacer, bottles, syringes, and feeding nipples will be a great help to your local shelters. Also donations of bedding, blankets, wet kitten food and litter is greatly appreciated,” says Finch. “Check with your local shelter to determine any special brands or kinds of items that they use, as many shelters have special protocols in place.”
3. Become a foster!
You can be a lifesaver by opening your home to babies who need a place to grow a little before they are ready to be adopted. “Check with your local shelter on becoming a foster to care for kittens until they are ready for adoption,” she says. “Kitten season means shelters are packed full and sometimes being able to place kittens in foster homes makes all the difference in the shelter being able to save more cats and kittens.
4. Keep an eye out for abandoned kittens.
It’s a cruel world out there and sometimes animals find themselves in impossible situations — so keep an eye out for animals in need as you go about your day. “Unfortunately, many litters find themselves abandoned outside with no way to fend for themselves. If you happen upon this situation, check first to determine if the mother cat has left them to hunt for food or if they have been abandoned by a human,” Finch explains. “Please do whatever you can to help. Ensure the kittens have safe shelter and sustenance and reach out to your community resources — rescues, vets, neighbors or friends — to find space for the litter or assistance in caring for them yourself. Depending upon their age, their care requirements will vary.”
5. Spay and neuter!
It makes purr-fect sense that less litters of cats on the planet means less kittens to help during kitten season, so do your part and spay and neuter all of your animals when they join your family. If you’ve already done that, there are always other ways you can help reduce the pet population. “Get involved to whatever extent you are able with the TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) effort in your area. If there’s not already an organized effort, you have a fantastic opportunity to start one,” says Finch. “Look for the homeless cats in your community and determine whether or not they have a tipped ear (this is when the ear, typically the left one, has had the tip of it snipped off). If so, this is a universal sign that they have been trapped, sterilized, and returned to their environment as a feral (unsocialized) cat. If there is no ear tip, contact your local rescues to learn about how the cat can be captured and sterilized so as to no longer lend to our overpopulation of homeless cats.”
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