It’s kitten season, the time in early spring when most shelters are inundated with lost, found and stray kittens, often without their mothers. With the COVID-19 crisis, this year may be even more challenging. Shelters are essential services, but intake is reserved for truly emergent animal needs only – pets that are sick, injured, dangerous or are in immediate danger.
To help curb unnecessary kitten surrenders, the Ulster County SPCA is borrowing an educational campaign started in El Paso, TX, called "Stop the Kitnapping."
Kitnapping is when kittens are prematurely separated from their mother who is their main source of health. This often happens when residents find a litter of kittens and immediately take them away. While they think they are helping, they are likely causing more harm than good, since mother cats provide their kittens the best chance at survival.
About five percent of the some 300 kittens that enter the UCSPCA annually die from Fading Kitten Syndrome, where kittens fail to thrive after not being provided full immunity that a mother cat offers.
Healthy, un-weaned kittens are unlikely to be orphaned and only become so when they are removed from where their mother is likely nearby. People are advised to leave kittens where they are found and observe from a distance for signs that the mother has been returning to care for them.
If kittens clearly have been orphaned, people are encouraged to foster the kittens in a home until they can be admitted to a shelter when normal operations resume. Most shelters provide fostering assistance, especially during this crisis.
For more information on how you can help "Stop the Kitnapping" visit ucspca.org.