Every Spring, like clockwork (or the movie Groundhog Day), the same thing happens. Year after year, unspayed cats give birth to litters of kittens that have no homes. And every Spring, rescues try their darnedest to do everything they can for the most kittens (and mamas) possible. But it ain’t easy, folks.
There are mainly two seasons yearly that cats breed, and although it’s possible at any time of year – early Fall and late Winter see the majority of births in outdoor kittyland. The majority of those occur during the latter, which leads to a mind-boggling amount of kittens found, rescued, turned in to shelters, taken in with hopes of finding them a home. Every year it’s the same.
As cute as kittens are, their stories are often not so pretty. Left to fend for themselves outdoors, they become feral cats prey to larger wildlife, juvenile delinquents, vehicles zooming down the roads. And that’s if they survive Winter’s wicked weather.
If rescued, many end up in shelters where the odds are great they’ll be euthanized. Those that are fortunate enough to fall into the hands of rescue organizations must compete with a zillion other cuties for a foster home, a forever home, a chance for a good life.
And every year the cute kittens make the older adoptable cats take a back seat, waiting that much longer for a home of their own.
|Tank, available for adoption, Almost Home Foundation
In the meantime, the expense of caring for these tiny beauties can be astronomical, burdening the bank accounts of the rescue organizations. Many are found too young without their mama, requiring round-the-clock bottle feeding by the highest order of human angels. Even the healthiest of babies require socialization, many trips to the vet for a series of vaccinations, spay/neuter/microchip, and health checks – stretching the foster homes to the max on their time, energy, and availability.
So as cute as kittens may be, kitten season is anything but.
That said, there are things you can do to help!
- Spay/neuter your own pets. Should your cat end up outdoors, you’ll only be worrying about getting her back inside, not that she’ll get knocked up before you see her again.
- If you find a litter of kittens, wait. Many people rush to rescue the babies, thinking they’re abandoned, when in fact Mama is just off searching for some food. Or gabbing with her girlfriends. No need to cause babies to be motherless!
- When it becomes apparent that the mother will not be returning to the litter, contact your local rescue organizations for help. They’ll probably tell you they’re overwhelmed.
- Consider fostering the babies yourself. Ask your rescue if they have a foster program, if they’ll take on the kittens if you’re willing to foster. That’s usually the biggest hurdle for rescues to say “yes” in accepting more kittens.
- Network, network, network. Make sure everyone you know, anyone you come in contact with – is aware you know of some adorable kittens for adoption. (Won’t hurt to let them know how great that rescue is, and how much donations would help, either.)
- Advocate for animal welfare in your community. Whether it be encouraging others to spay/neuter their pets (and keep them indoors), local ordinances that are fair and humane toward animals, or even laws regarding feral cat communities and TNR – YOU can make a difference.
- Donate to your favorite rescue organization. You can offer your time and talent by volunteering with them. You can donate items they’re in need of – many of those can be used things you no longer need in your home. And of course, nothing says I Care more than cold, hard cash. (Just kidding. Kinda.)
- Enjoy special fundraisers! These events are often organized with fun, entertainment, special activities in mind. Have a blast and help care for homeless pets at the same time.
Here in the Chicagoland area, Almost Home Foundation has been doing their utmost to help during this busy kitten season. And just as they’ve always done, they’re throwing a Kitten Shower! Everyone is invited – there’ll be cake and refreshments, even a bake sale. And …. kittens! Price of admission? Some food or litter. (Deets below)
If you’d like to donate something other than, or in addition to, the food or litter — just check out Almost Home Foundation’s handy wishlist on Amazon. They make it so easy to help them!
If you don’t live in our area – no sweat. No matter where you live, I guarantee you there’s a pet rescue nearby with people who’d love you silly if you called and asked what they need. By helping them, you’re helping all those cute little kittens. Warm and fuzzy, isn’t it?
And to answer the initial question – there’s only one better way to get your kitty-fix on, and that’s by volunteering to help with or foster some felines in need!