As the weather changes and begins to bring warmth and summer activities, I would like to take a moment to talk about a yearly phenomenon that occurs across America: kitten season.
If you’re thinking, “Wow, there’s a season for kittens?” the answer to that is yes. Females cycle into their heat when the months start to get warmer. Finding a kitten to adopt during the winter months can be extremely challenging if you are looking for a kitten that is under six-months-old.
Animal Services, as well as local animal rescue organizations, have begun to receive multiple phone calls and emails daily about “found” kitten litters. Today, I would like to go over some basic rules to follow when it comes to kittens, so that you are not, in fact, kidnapping kittens.
• WAIT -- Just because you see a litter of kittens and no mom, it does NOT mean that mom is not taking care of them. She is possibly in the middle of moving them to a different location.
It is best to LEAVE them where they are and to not interfere. You could be the reason mom is scared away and possibly abandons her kittens.
Kittens’ BEST chances at surviving and thriving is to be WITH mom.
• WATCH -- If you genuinely think kittens are abandoned, we recommend using baby powder or chalk and placing a ring around the kittens. If you see footprints around the kittens, you now know that mom is providing care to them.
We recommend that mom be given at least four-to-five hours to return. She knows she needs to nurse her babies and will have them on a schedule.
• HELP MOM -- If you notice the baby power or chalk has been walked on, leave the kittens until they are weaned (usually when the kittens reach five-to-six weeks old) and not reliant on mom.
In the meantime, leaving mom some sort of shelter, food and water while waiting for the kittens to be weaned is best.
Once the kittens hit this milestone, Animal Services and animal rescue organizations can begin to help with placement and facilitate adoptions for the kittens.
Once kittens are able to be placed with an animal welfare organization, it is of the utmost importance that mom is trapped – with a humane cat trap – in order to have her altered and to further prevent future litters.
If at any time the kittens look sickly or the baby powder/chalk has not been disturbed – indicating mom is not providing care – please contact Animal Services to further discuss the best options for the kittens and their overall care.
The spaying and neutering of outdoor cats (owned or unowned) is a proven method to provide population control, decrease sickness in the overall cat population, correct nuisance behaviors, and it reduces the demand on shelters and rescue organizations when being hit with a large quantity of kittens in a specific and short timeframe.
There is no truer statement in the animal welfare profession than “spaying and neutering saves lives.”
• Brittany Pasquale is the City of Tracy Animal Services Supervisor. To learn more about the shelter at 2375 Paradise Ave. and animal resources – or to just say “hi” – call 209-831-6364 or contact Tracy Animal Services at AnimalServices@TracyPD.com or on Facebook and Instagram.