‘Bumper crop’ of motherless kittens needs foster parents

Local animal shelters say pandemic is indirectly causing a feline population boom

Local animal shelters are expecting an influx of motherless kittens and need human foster parents to step in to help.

Last year, non-essential veterinary services were shut down during the early stages of the pandemic to conserve personal protective equipment that was in high demand for human hospitals.

The limit on spay-and-neuter programs is predicted to contribute to a higher volume of animals in need of help this year, local shelter officials say.

“Last year, and probably again this year, we’ll experience what I call a bumper crop of kittens,” said Lisa Miller, SICSA’s Help Center program manager.

“As much as everyone loves those cute little fuzzy jellybeans, we also know there is a huge overpopulation problem nationwide with cats, and certainly having a bumper crop of kittens doesn’t help with that.”

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The start of warm weather is referred to as “kitten season” Miller said. Cats breed at an “incredibly fast pace.” Their gestational period is around 60 days. Female cats can become pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth.

SICSA and the Humane Society of Greater Dayton need volunteers to help kittens separated from their mothers.

“We become inundated this time of year and reach out to the community to ask people to become fosters,” Brian Weltge, the Humane Society of Greater Dayton president and CEO, said.

“We’ve probably got about 100 foster families that will foster cats, dogs, kittens and puppies but I like have twice as many as that for preparing for kitten season.”

Fosters can choose to care for very young “bottle-baby” kittens who need to be fed with a syringe every few hours, or for active older kittens between four and six weeks old. Kittens can be adopted at eight weeks, so the commitment is short-term.

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Both organizations have a foster application process and provide training, support and supplies, including food and bedding.

“It’s fun, hard work, but we provide all the things that people need,” Weltge said. “If people know that it’s fun and short-term, and they have support and the equipment they need, I think they will want to try it. It’s a great experience.”

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT FOSTERING AN ANIMAL?

SICSA has more information on its website. For more information, call 937-294-6505 or email info@sicsa.org.

The Humane Society of Greater Dayton has more information on its website. For more information, call 937-262-5937 or email foster@hsdayton.org

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A LITTER OF KITTENS:

Before bringing a litter of kittens to SICSA or another shelter, Lisa Miller, SICSA’s Help Center program manager, advises people take a “watch-and-wait” approach if they don’t see the mother.

“Don’t be kitten-nappers,” Miller said. Don’t assume a litter of kittens behind a shed or in a yard needs to be rescued. Mother cats wander away to hunt for food, relieve themselves or take a break.

Observe the litter from a safe distance, and if you can’t do that, sprinkle flour, a non-toxic substance, on the ground near the kittens. Periodically check for the mother’s footprints to see if she’s coming back to feed and care for them.

HOW TO CONTROL CAT OVERPOPULATION:

Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR is a humane and effective method of managing feral or community cat populations.

Spaying and neutering eliminates reproduction, reduces nuisance behavior including unaltered males spraying to mark territory, roaming and fighting, yowling and other noises associated with mating. The cats themselves are healthier and less likely to spread feline disease.

More information about SICSA’s TNR program can be found at www.sicsa.org/tnr.

More information about the Humane Society of Greater Dayton’s TNR program can be found at hsdayton.org.

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