(Written by Christina Moyle and Karen Anderson)
A new life has begun! And Heidi’s Village is here to help.
We can all agree that kittens are adorable, but they are also fragile little creatures. Many of us have at least once in our lives found a litter of kittens, or a single baby needing care.
There is a wealth of information regarding kittens and how we may help them, but first and foremost, kittens should be with momma cat. Momma cat provides essential nutrients and antibodies for her babies through nursing. If the kittens can stay with mom through the first 8 weeks of life, they have a much better chance of being happy, healthy adults.
What about those 4 kittens you found in your yard that are all alone?
Most likely, momma cat is out shopping for sustenance (after all, she needs to eat too!). Don’t take the litter away until you have observed that momma cat may have departed for good. Many momma cats will look for better housing once they have given birth, and they can only move one kitten at a time. The best thing to do is observe the area (don’t let momma see you!). Then, if she has not returned within 8 hours, the babies will need your help.
It looks like momma’s not coming back! Now what?
Number one: Decide if you want to be a foster parent! It really is so rewarding and can fill your days with love and laughter as these little ones grow and thrive. If you choose to foster your little batch of felines, it is extremely important to socialize them. Playing, petting, handling, talking—these are the best ways to get your kittens adjusted to human contact. I know, it’s a hard job…but someone’s gotta do it! This should be done around 4-6 weeks of age.
If you know that fostering kittens is not for you, then a shelter is your next best option. Due to Arizona’s climate, kitten season is pretty much all year long, so it may be difficult to find space. Also, shelters usually only accept socialized, friendly kitties, so if your backyard bunch is wild and anti-human, they most likely won’t take them in. It’s a conundrum; however, if we work together as a community, there is a way to help these babies and hopefully avoid additional litters.
If fostering is not an option, and the shelters are full, it is best to simply get the kittens spayed/neutered and then release them back to the area you found them. Socializing them is not necessary in this case because steering clear of people will help keep them safer in the long run.
Where does Heidi’s Village come in? We’re glad you asked!
Heidi’s Village can take in mommas and babies; however health, behavior and shelter capacity are factors in accepting them. We can also provide you with other resources if we are unable to take them.
Additionally, if your pet has a litter of kittens, be sure to keep them all safe and try to socialize them as much as possible. Contact Heidi’s Village when they are fully weaned (about 6-8 weeks), and if we can take them in, we definitely will.
How do we stop all this kitten overpopulation?
First and foremost, spay and neuter your cats BEFORE they start dating! Arizona has multiple groups and rescues that can assist with costs and procedures. Heidi’s Village can help you locate these resources. There are also several groups to assist with feral/street cats TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release). All those wild parties in the allies and parking lots should quiet down once the cat population has been “fixed.” Won’t that be nice?
Second, if/when you find some little feline friends, leave them with momma! She knows best and the babies will be much better off with her until they are weaned.
Third, take advantage of all the wonderful resources Arizona has to offer. Our community is a caring and compassionate one—we want to help! Together, we can stop the plethora of homeless pussycats while giving the love and care that cats here deserve.