Do you see strange rustling in your bushes? Hear funny noises coming from under your porch? It’s Springtime and with the change in season come kittens (among other young). About this time, they are getting old enough to venture from the nest and you may soon see little fluff balls. If we are to tame them down and find them homes, it’s critical that they be caught before they are eight weeks old. That means as soon as you see them, catch them!
Kittens have a shorter, and earlier, socializing period than dogs. It starts at two-weeks-old (if you are raising kittens it’s important for them to be handled daily at this early age) and pretty much is over by ten weeks. If kittens are not socialized by then it becomes increasingly more difficult and less successful. It’s a shame to sentence these young animals to the rough life of a feral when they could be caught early and tamed down. The important point is not to wait. Too many people think, I’ll catch them on the weekend, or I’ll try to get them used to coming for food and then I’ll work on getting them to trust me and then I’ll catch them. NO! They need to be caught today! Immediately!
Although it’s true that for super young kittens, with their eyes still closed, staying with the mom is the best thing for them, as soon as they are old enough to walk around and venture a bit on their own they are old enough to be caught and brought in for taming. Of course if your tame cat had kittens you wouldn’t want to separate them until the kittens are at least seven weeks old (eight is even better), but that assumes that you are handling, playing and socializing the kittens the whole time. It’s also not in their best interest to be adopted out singly too young – they learn a lot about bite inhibition and appropriate play by remaining with their littermates until they are at least a couple months old.
Along with catching the babies, you definitely want to catch the mom to get her spayed. Otherwise you will be repeating this scenario again in another three months (gestation is about 63 days and the kittens start moving around at about 4 weeks of age). Forgotten Felines runs weekly spay/neuter clinics for trapped ferals in our County – call 576-7999 for an appointment and helpful tips and information about how to trap mom-cats. They can also give you great advice on how to socialize the young, if you are willing to do it yourself – otherwise they will point you in the direction of the animal shelter that services your area.
We have foster parents who have signed up to help raise these orphan kittens – a very satisfying (and fun) job indeed! It’s considered the politically correct way to have kittens – all the fun without the lifetime of responsibility! If you are interested there is more information on our website (rpanimalshelter.org) or at the shelter. Meantime, don’t just watch these cuties grow up wild out there; all too quickly it will be too late. Thanks for getting involved and helping them out. Maybe there is a reason they picked your bush or patio!
“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri-Sat 1-5:30; Sun 1-4:30.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.