Warm weather brings a flood of kittens in need of foster care

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The “kitten season” or breeding season of cats lasts from spring to summer when litters are usually born.

Cats reproduce rapidly, with a gestation period of around 60 days and the ability to conceive again almost immediately after birth.

Additionally, in early 2020 many “trap, neuter, release” programs were halted due to pandemic orders, and later many remained on hiatus due to ongoing pandemic disruptions.

That meant fewer cats were being vaccinated and spayed in 2020, and there was a surge of more kittens with more health issues in 2021.

“Kitten season is a community issue, not just an animal welfare issue. These kittens appear everywhere. The animal welfare world needs the help of our communities to ensure these kittens reach the age of adoption healthy,” said Kaitlin Becraft, SICSA Education and Outreach Manager.

Willow and Star are two kittens being cared for by volunteers until they are old enough to be adopted at SISCA in Washington Twp. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Willow and Star are two kittens being cared for by volunteers until they are old enough to be adopted at SISCA in Washington Twp. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Don’t take a “kitten nap”

Every year, well-meaning viewers accidentally take a “kitten nap,” mistaking kittens for abandoned kittens without properly checking to see if their mother might have been around.

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The shelter staff share some tips on what to do if you see stray kittens in your alley:

  • Leave them undisturbed and do not touch them. Stay far enough away from the litter that you can watch them, but don’t discourage the mother cat from returning to her kittens. “She’s probably around somewhere,” Frederickson said. “She doesn’t stay with them all the time and goes to feed them and do the things that cats do.
  • It is best to “wait and see” to see if the mother comes back. You can sprinkle a bag of flour on the ground nearby to see if the mother comes back later that day and leaves footprints in the flour, keeping the same safety radius to avoid startling the mother. If the mother doesn’t come back, you can safely remove the kittens.
  • You can place water for the mother close by (but not too close lest you attract other stray cats to the kittens).
  • You can consult your local veterinarian or animal shelter if you are concerned that a cat appears distressed or ill. For more information about trap neuter release programs or other services, visit sicsa.org or call 937-294-6505.

SICSA and the Humane Society of Greater Dayton say caregivers make a huge difference in kitten well-being.

Frederickson said that people considering foster care should consider whether they have the time to give them the attention and nourishment they need. People also need to consider if they have space to quarantine a new animal.

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