Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kitten Season Strikes Again

When I first started volunteering with animal rescue, and heard the term “kitten season”, it made me smile. I imagined kittens everywhere – and who doesn’t love adorable, entertaining kittens?! The more experienced volunteers seemed to dread the mention of kitten season, but not me. Kittens are so cute, they are easy to find homes for, and they are a lot of fun! What was there to dread?

Now, after turning down request after request for help with kittens who are going to be euthanized because there are just too many of them – now I too dread kitten season. Seeing a well cared for and happy kitten is fun – seeing dead and dying kittens, not so much. There are many low-cost options to have pets spayed and neutered, to prevent unwanted litters of kittens, but many people don’t know about these programs. I had helped some neighbors get vouchers to have their cats and dogs fixed, and they told me about another neighbor who also had too many cats. I suggested they pass on my name and I would try to get the cats into a shelter to be adopted, and they informed me that would be preferable to the normal method of dealing with too many cats – which is to take them out in the woods and shoot them. So when a friend of the neighbor showed up with a medium sized dog crate that was full of cats, I just said I’d take all of them, even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them. They said there were adults and kittens in the crate. I asked how many, and they had no idea. They also told me about three more cats that they planned to keep, none of which were fixed and one of whom is pregnant and should have more kittens any day. We made arrangements to get them spay/neuter vouchers for those cats as well, and I’m sure I’ll end up with the new kittens once they are weaned as well. Did you know that a momma cat can get pregnant while she is still nursing her previous litter? It is no surprise that so many cats and kittens are being killed each day due to an overpopulation of cats. Rescues and shelters can only do so much, but until people stop allowing their pets to have unwanted babies, there will always be more kittens than we can save.
So enough preaching – now in case you’re wondering how many cats turned out to be in the carrier – well, I was wondering too! I tried to count them, but they were lying on top of each other and it was hard to see them all. So I took them to my friend Bev’s house so she could deworm them and put on flea medication and give the sickest kittens a vitamin shot. While she was working so hard to help these cats, I left and went to lunch with my mom. I still feel guilty about that! But after lunch I called Bev and asked the question I had wanted to know – how many cats were there in that one medium-sized crate?

Bev told me there were four adults (two male, two female) and nine kittens. And she said it just like that – like it was no big deal at all. “NINE kittens?!”, I asked. Surely I had not heard correctly. But yes, nine kittens was the correct answer. And suddenly I found myself right in the middle of Kitten Season. The local shelter was kind enough to take three of the adult cats, and I’ll keep the mom and nine kittens at my house until they’re big enough to be adopted. I haven’t named any of the kittens yet, mostly because I haven’t had time to think of nine kitten names that go together, but also because I have no idea if they are males or females. It’s tough to tell with five-week-old kittens! Kittens must be at least eight weeks and weigh at least two pounds before they can be spayed/neutered, and that must happen before they can be adopted. So it will be at least three more weeks before the nine kittens are ready to go to the shelter. In the meantime, I’m enjoying cute and playful kittens, while bemoaning the huge mess that kittens make. I’ve had to turn down several more requests for help with kittens in the past few days, so if you too would like to foster some adorable kittens until they’re old enough to be adopted, please contact me!

A very patient mom feeds some of her nine kittens.

The kittens are starting to eat softened solid food.

This is one of the runts of the litter.

This one has a dirty face after eating/bathing in canned food.

The kittens are so small and still have blue eyes!

I think this one is glaring at me for interrupting playtime.



Tucker The Crestie said...

Oh, the dreaded kitten season! Kitten season, actually, is the reason I have three cats. All three of mine were born feral (in Olivia's case her mom died before she was weaned, and only she and one of her littermates could be saved - the rest died; in Tanner's case, he is the only survivor of the litter but his mom was humanely trapped also and was found a good home; Finn just wandered up by himself). Finn especially I worked really hard to find a home for, after I had been turned away by every private cat rescue in my county because they were literally drowning in kittens. One volunteer I spoke to was fostering seventeen kittens. I'm so glad I have all of my cats - now - but I didn't really set out to have any of them, although neither could I just surrender them to an overcrowded county shelter where their chances of making it out alive were slim to none just because of the sheer volume of kittens going through there. It's such a sad thing - so much suffering on the part of the cats and kittens, so much anguish on the part of the humans who try so hard to make a difference but the odds are never in their favor, and all of it can be avoided with a simple procedure that is extremely affordable or even free. Why do people have to be so stupid?

Cupcake said...

Very well said Tucker!! I get so sad when I hear of someone who's cat just had kittens. Don't they have a clue of what is going on with the pet overpopulation, don't they care?

I'm sure all these babies are happy to be out of that crate. Mom and babies are so beautiful.

Love, Cupcake

Stefanie said...

I think the cutest are Runty and Grumpy.

They are so adorable and once again, how I wish I weren't allergic to cats!

Cr8z4Cats! said...

Kitten season is anything but fun. I feel your pain Laurie and am finding myself sick to my stomach over turning needy cats away because we are just too full. If only people did the right thing for their pets and fixed the problem BEFORE it happens... they would save so many lives. Your kittens are absolutely adorable and I'm glad that they and momma are safe, but the rewarding feeling you get when you take in a few is overshadowed by so many that are left behind. Regardless, we can only do what we can do and knowing that we did our best and saved some lives does help. Thanks for taking in these kitties - you truly are their angel!

Mopsy said...

Oh how precious! Kitten season is very bad, here in NJ we have not really gotten full in to kitten season yet, it is just beginning now where as the south and some other areas are already plagued in kittens! You should name them all after military vehicles...

Tomcat, Falcon, Eagle, Nighthawk, Hornet, Blackbird, Grizzly, Cougar, Knight, Casspir, Lynx, Spartan, Warrior, Stormer, and so on..

Or maybe after wild cats? Tiger, Cougar/Puma, Bobcat, Lion, Leopard, Panther, Jaguar, Cheetah, Mynx, Ocelot, Caracal, etc.