An adorable photo of snuggly wrapped baby kittens (aka “purritos”) on Best Friends Animal Society’s Facebook page not only invokes an “aww” but helps to spread the word about kitten season.
“Sometimes you have to go cute to get serious information out there,” said Best Friends Animal Society’s Holly Sizemore, director of national programs, community programs and services. “We are glad that people are enjoying the ‘purritos’ and especially glad to see the offers by people to get involved in being part of the solution.”
A national problem, kitten season technically lasts from February through November when shelters become overwhelmed with these helpless pets. The majority of kittens land in shelters without their mothers and need to be bottle-fed every two hours. They are usually weeks away from weaning, spaying or neutering, and being able to be adopted into permanent homes.
The workload for a typical animal shelter almost immediately outweighs what staff can handle and results in many kittens being killed upon intake simply because of a lack of resources.
“Recent surveys indicate something like 91 percent of pet cats are sterilized, which suggests that the vast majority of unweaned kittens are born to free-roaming, unowned community cats,” Sizemore said. “That is why Best Friends Animal Society and like-minded organizations are working together so hard to spay and neuter these cats, we want to break this tragic cycle.”
Sizemore explained the spay/neuter efforts are known as trap/neuter/return or TNR. Unowned cats are humanely trapped, neutered and vaccinated, then released into the community to live out their natural lives.
In addition to TNR programs for community cats, Best Friends has established lifesaving kitten nurseries in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Through its community cat initiatives, Best Friends supports kitten nurseries at shelters in other key municipalities as well that are staffed with teams of dedicated caregivers and supported by a cadre of devoted volunteers.
Carol Maul said she was totally overwhelmed when she started volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society’s kitten nursery in Salt Lake City: “To know there were so many stray kittens broke my heart. What Best Friends is doing is saving their lives. Also, because the kittens will be spayed or neutered before they are adopted, that will keep them from making hundreds of new babies. I hope more people will volunteer at kitten nurseries but they need to know this is hard work. It is also rewarding when you see these tykes go from being bottle babies to a two-pounder with a personality of their own. It’s a great feeling.”
To find out more about how you can get involved during kitten season and year-round to help community cats visit bestfriends.org/communitycats.