Newborn kittens! So cute, right? But far too many die due to lack of care or resources as a result of overpopulation.
Spring is here, which means blossoming trees, melting snow, chatty squirrels, and unfortunately, LOTS of homeless and/or helpless newborn kittens. Unfixed cats mate annually during January and February, leading to a flood of baby kittens two months later. Many of these kittens end up behind bars at our nations’ already overflowing shelters, resulting in thousands being euthanized due to lack of space. Kittens whose mothers have either died or left them behind often need medical attention and extra care, such as bottle feeding. Shelters without sufficient staff or resources are often left with euthanasia as their only choice.
Fortunately, YOU can make a difference! Here’s how:
#1: Adopt and Encourage Adoption
It’s obvious, but it needs to be said. If you’ve been waiting to add a furry friend to your family, consider doing so immediately. By emptying a cage at the shelter, you open up space that can be used for cats & kittens that might otherwise be killed. If you aren’t able to add any more animals to your home, take a few minutes to remind friends and family about the importance of rescuing animals. Share posts from your local shelter or rescue groups. You never know which adorable face might be the one that pulls on the heartstrings of your long lost cousin or that girl you sat next to in Spanish class.
#2: Learn to Care for Newborn Kittens
The primary need for newborn kittens is typically bottle feeding. If they are only a few weeks old, they’ll likely need to be fed every few hours! If you’re a stay at home parent, if you work from home, or if you have a flexible schedule, consider taking on this time consuming but incredibly rewarding task. Your local shelter may have classes to teach neonate care, be sure to ask them! If not, find a local cat rescue that’s willing to train you. You’ll end up with a few teeny tiny scratches (kittens have sharp, albeit adorable, claws!), but just think about all the good karma (and let’s be real- so many Instagramable photos) that will come your way!
#3: Foster Cats or Kittens
If you can’t commit to the feeding schedule of newborns, consider offering your home as a temporary hangout for a shelter cat (or 2…or 3…). Most city shelters have foster programs, but if yours doesn’t, I’d again recommend contacting a couple local rescue groups. If you’re able to care for and cuddle a homeless pet until they find their forever home, you allow the shelter to use that space and time to house more kittens and momma cats! All rescues and shelters have different expectations of their volunteer foster parents, so be sure to check their rules and ensure you can fulfill the necessary obligations. Having fostered quite a few times in the past, I promise you it’s one of the most rewarding experiences an animal lover can have! Knowing that a few weeks of your time and love made the difference between life and death for a forgotten pet never gets old.
#4: Donate! Dollars or Items.
It’s pretty simple: the more funds a rescue or shelter has, the more animals it can save. The more supplies they have, the more homeless or abandoned animals they can care for. It should only take a few minutes of your time to find a local rescue or shelter in need of funds to accommodate the influx of needy kittens. And of course, it doesn’t need to be local- one of my very favorite and most trusted cat rescue organizations, Stray Cat Alliance (saving lives daily in the Los Angeles area) is always appreciative of support!
Straight up cash is helpful for daily needs as well as expensive veterinary bills, but many donors prefer to give specific items so they know how their money is being spent. Most shelters and rescues have Amazon Wish Lists that allow you to pick out exactly what you want to buy for them! Please check out the aforementioned Stray Cat Alliance’s Amazon list to send some food and treats their way. I vouch fully for this group; just last week I alerted them (all the way from Colorado) to an injured momma cat in the LA area, and within hours they had a volunteer on the scene to trap the cat and get her to a vet!
If you’d rather donate locally, ask around among friends or use Petfinder’s handy rescue search to find organizations in your area. Check out their websites and their social media to make sure they’re still active, and look for the donate button and/or the Amazon wish list!
#5: Get involved with a local TNR (Trap Neuter Return) program
Prevention is the best medicine. If there are stray or feral cats in your area, chances are they’re reproducing like crazy. This results in many lost, sick, and/or unwanted kittens dying in the streets. If the cats can be trapped and fixed, this heartbreaking problem decreases immediately! Just Google “TNR + your city” (i.e.: TNR Denver) to see if a local program already exists. You can also check Best Friends Animal Society’s list of programs! I promise you, they definitely want and desperately need your help. This help can involve setting traps, checking traps, transporting trapped cats to the vet, and/or releasing the cats once they’ve healed. Most cities have areas with high populations of strays and ferals; if they’re already going to be out there, they might as well stop reproducing!
#6: Advocate for cats and kittens by spreading the word!
You might not believe it, but most people don’t know this is a problem. Unless people are really paying attention to their local rescue scene, they are probably unaware of the Spring kitten crisis. Share this post to get the word out there, and use social media to post frequent updates about cats and kittens in need! Education is half the battle. Encourage people to spay and neuter their cats, especially if they live outdoors.
Finally, visit the Alley Cat Alliance page to take political action for cats. Many areas are working on legislation to combat overpopulation, and they need your help! They also frequently host webinars to help you get more familiar with the ins and outs of this problem, and to inspire you to get involved!
Thank you for caring about cats & kittens! Stay compassionate out there!
Jessica // The Tree Kisser