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How to help stray kittens during adopt-a-shelter-cat month this june
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How to help stray kittens during adopt-a-shelter-cat month this june

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Feline breeding season, otherwise known as kitten season, often occurs during warmer months and is when many shelters experience the bulk of their cat and kitten intake.

For anyone who may find stray kittens, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a new online tool to provide tips.

Hundreds of thousands of homeless kittens are born across the country during kitten season every year, and by using this interactive tool, people can make well-informed decisions about the animals in their care.

Newborn and young kittens, both among the most vulnerable animal populations, are often removed from their environment and unintentionally orphaned by well-meaning community members, but this might not always be the right course of action. For example, some stray kittens may appear to be alone, but the mother cat — who knows exactly what her new litter needs — may be hiding nearby or out getting food.

Not all kittens require the same kind of assistance, and the public can now easily determine the appropriate lifesaving approach, tailored to the individual situation of each kitten, by answering a series of simple questions about how the animals were found and other observations.

“When you find kittens outside, it’s crucial to pause and assess how to help these vulnerable animals in a way that matches their unique situation to give them the best chance at survival and avoid overwhelming shelters when it’s not necessary,” said Tina Reddington Fried, director of the Los Angeles Volunteer & Kitten Programs. “It can be tempting to take the kittens home or immediately bring them to a shelter, but some kittens who are with their mother should often be left alone or monitored — as no one can care for a kitten like their own mother.”

Feline breeding season, otherwise known as kitten season, often occurs during warmer months — typically March through October with timing that varies across the country — and is when many shelters experience the bulk of their cat and kitten intake.

All of these at-risk kittens make up a large part of the roughly 3.2 million cats entering shelters each year, requiring round-the-clock care and protection from infectious diseases that other animals in a shelter environment might be carrying. For these reasons, placing kittens in foster homes and dedicated kitten nurseries are the most humane options until they become old enough to be adopted.

“The tremendous annual need of foster caregivers for newborn cats has coincided with an enormous and unprecedented response from the public seeking to support their local animal shelters during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” said Fried. “Applications to temporarily foster animals through ASPCA programs in New York City and Los Angeles increased by 159% during the first 12 months of the pandemic — and with this need met, we now have an opportunity to save even more animal lives by remaining alert and taking actions that focus on stray kittens found outdoors.”

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