The adoring sounds of “oh” and “aww” fill the air as kitten season once again returns to the region.
Kitten season is a real thing. It marks the time when area animal shelters experience an influx of kittens throughout the warmer months. In anticipation, the Humane Society of the Palouse is hosting its second annual Kitten Shower Sunday.
Cats are not fertile when the weather is too cold, so litters typically are born two months after the weather begins to warm after winter, explained Donna Duffau, director of the Lewis Clark Animal Shelter. A couple of litters already have arrived at that shelter, and three have come to the Humane Society of the Palouse.
Most of the kittens the Lewiston shelter receives are from what Duffau calls “community cats,” those felines that roam neighborhoods and don’t “belong” to anyone. These feral animals generally aren’t spayed or neutered and can have two to three litters each year. People will find their litters under bushes or in garages while the mother is away, or they’ll encounter them abandoned by the mother after she is no longer nursing them.
When an orphaned kitten is discovered, most people instinctively want to pick it up and provide or find care for it, said Sierah Beeler, operations manager at the Humane Society of the Palouse. Instead, she recommends people wait and watch for the mother to return because it’s generally best for the kittens to stay with her. Don’t touch the kittens, and stand at a distance so as not to scare off the mother.
If the mother returns, Beeler said, try to move the cat family indoors where they’ll be safer from wild animals. Feral cats aren’t likely to go for that, but cats who have some experience with people might be convinced, especially if there’s food involved. However, if the mother doesn’t return after two hours, which is how often kittens must eat, they should be brought to the shelter.
To help keep this year’s kitten season to a dull “meow,” here’s what you can do:
- Spay or neuter your cat. The best way to ensure kittens have proper care is to prevent the birth of unwanted cats. The procedure is available at veterinarian offices for around $80 to $150, though community members who are unable to afford the service can check with their local shelter to see if discounted options are available.
- Donate. Sunday’s Kitten Shower is aimed at collecting donations and supplies. Other shelters in the region also welcome help covering the costs associated with caring for the kittens they receive.
- Foster. Many shelters rely on volunteer foster caregivers to handle the kittens they receive. These caregivers are trained to nurture kittens until they are old enough to be adopted. Homes limit the risk of disease and illness and provide more opportunities for socialization. Caregivers are matched with a good fit for their home and schedule — some kittens require bottle feeding every two hours, while others only need fresh food and water, along with some play.
- Volunteer. Help is needed for various shelter tasks, including interacting with animals. Contact your local shelter to find out what opportunities are available.
- Adopt. Kittens usually are ready for adoption at eight weeks. Those from shelters are typically vaccinated, spayed or neutered, treated for parasites, microchipped and available for a minimal fee.
See related story: Insta-Kitty Guide: Must-haves for your kitten’s first year on Instagram
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Humane Society of the Palouse Kitten Shower
WHEN: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: 1912 Center, 412 E. Third St., Moscow
COST: $5 or donated item from kitten supply wish list at humanesocietyofthepalouse.org; free for kids 12 and younger