Spring has brought more than just a bumper crop of pollen — it’s brought plenty of kittens who don’t have a home to the Philly region.
Litters of kittens arrive at the shelter every day, said Sarah Barnett, acting co-executive director of Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control Team. Newborn kittens who don’t have a mother need to be bottle-fed every two hours, and they need foster parents to help them survive.
“We have what’s called an Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. When we get these kittens in at 5 in the afternoon, we bottle feed every couple hours, and they can’t find rescue by 6 p.m. we can’t feed them overnight at the shelter,” said Barnett. “That’s why we look for our bottle baby fosters or the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee members to foster them overnight.”
Thousands of cats roam the city, Barnett said. And if they are not spayed or neutered, they can produce 10 to 20 kittens a year.
Key to humanely managing the city’s stray cat population is the shelter’s TNR program, in which community cats are trapped, neutered, and returned. ACCT offers clear instructions on how residents can trap, drop off, and pick up a TNR cat so they can be returned to their respective neighborhood post-surgery.
If residents happen to spot a litter of kittens without their mother, Barnett urges a closer look.
“Look around for the mom,” Barnett said, “because a lot of times the mom is nearby, especially if they’re newborn kittens or a couple of days old.
It’s not just a matter of getting the kittens in, she explained, adding that kittens have the best chance of survival if they’re with their mom. That makes it easier for the fostering process, and gives them the opportunity to keep the mother from reproducing in the future.
The goal, Barnett said, is to save the lives of both adult cats and kittens. The shelter hopes its outreach efforts lead to more foster parents, and more adoptions.
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