Kitten Season: it happens every summer! Whether pet cats or feral cats, if they are not spayed or neutered and have outdoor access, the result is kittens. The only problem with kittens is when there are too many to find homes for, or in the case of feral kittens, they remain untamed and contribute to community cat overpopulation.
At FCCO clinics we are now seeing kittens from the spring mating cycle, and I know that will continue into autumn. At the veterinary clinic I work at I have also already seen the tragic result of kitten life on the street – a good samaritan brought in the body of a young kitten found on the side of the road.
Shelters in the Portland metro area have learned to prepare for Kitten Season. There is scarce space in the shelters for all of them, and it is well known that shelters are not the best places for these very young kittens. Because their immune systems are not well developed, they are more likely to contract illnesses. If kittens can stay in foster homes until they are at least two pounds and ready to be spayed/neutered, they will have the best chance of remaining healthy enough to be adopted.
When it comes to kittens born to feral cats, unless they are trapped and socialized they will be feral themselves. Feral kittens should be taken from the mother at four to six weeks of age. Older kittens can also be captured and tamed, but the process gets slower and less successful the longer the kittens stay in the wild. Most importantly, spay/neuter the kittens and mother. A cat can get pregnant while nursing her kittens, but also can be spayed safely while still nursing.
If you find young kittens, want to know what to do with older kittens, need information about lactating cats, or want to know more about feral kittens, including an age timeline, check out the kitten information on our website at feralcats.com/kitteninfo.pdf.
The kitten socialization process can be accomplished with patience and dedication and the reward is certainly worthwhile, saving them from a life on the street as well as producing affectionate, loving companions. We hope for a time when there will be no more kittens born homeless on our streets or growing old in shelters when there aren’t enough homes to adopt them. Thank you for all you do to help!
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