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Kitten season is here. This is the time of year when shelters across the country are overwhelmed with little purring fuzzballs that need a whole lot of care. Rather than trickling in throughout the year, most kittens tend to come into shelters during spring and summer due to the cat's natural reproductive cycle.
Having an influx of kittens is hard on shelters in a lot of ways. Newborn kittens need a lot of attention – especially if mama cat wasn't brought into the shelter with them. They require help eating, defecating, and keeping warm. They need socialization and supervision, and are extremely vulnerable to common communicable diseases that, while uncomfortable for an adult cat, can be devastating for a young one.
Foster homes are an excellent solution, and a heaven-sent resource for shelters during this crazy time. Make no mistake – fostering kittens is a lot of work, with round-the-clock care and feeding causing a temporary disruption to your normal cycle (and that of your family or pets). But the positives are very appealing. In addition to getting time with tiny, furry, purring babies, you also get to the satisfaction of starting a kitten out healthy and well-adjusted, you develop a relationship with your shelter, and who knows? At the end of the fostering period, you may fall in love with the runt of the litter and adopt him yourself, earning a lifelong companion.
If you can't foster, you still have the opportunity to have an impact on kitten season. Spay or neuter your own cats, and consider helping local organizations with Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) programs for your area's feral population. Volunteer with your shelter; an avid volunteer is worth his or her weight in gold when regular workers are trying to juggle intake, medical care, and more. Finally, you can donate money or supplies; give your shelter a call to find out what they need the most.