‘Tis the season for kitten weanin’, and it’s all paws on deck here at Alley Cat Rescue during our annual springtime kitten season. This year we began receiving calls about found newborn kittens in March, and Alley Cat Rescue and our network of foster caregivers are taking in more vulnerable kittens each week. These kittens have come from a variety of places, including a county animal control department, a city code enforcement officer, compassionate private citizens, and caretakers who are removing kittens for adoption during Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) projects.
One of these kittes is Keanu. The kind person who found him realized he was in rough shape when his first foray out of a carrier was head-first into a wall. She saw that his eyes were stuck shut and knew he needed help fast, so she contacted Alley Cat Rescue. We got Keanu in to see one of our trusted vet partners right away, who diagnosed Keanu with a dangerous upper respiratory infection that would require close monitoring and treatment multiple times per day. With the knowledge that she could count on Alley Cat Rescue for support, Keanu’s caregiver agreed to foster him and nurse him back to health. We’re delighted to report that his infection has been cleared and an adopter has already been found!
It’s support from readers like you that allows us to step up and take action to save innocent kittens like Keanu. Yet around the country, we know that high numbers of kittens are still being killed in municipal shelters that don’t have the resources, knowledge, or facility space to care for small, fragile kittens. If Keanu had been taken to a shelter or animal control facility, he may not have been seen by a vet in time to get his URI under control. He may have died from a wholly treatable infection.
About 80% of kittens born each year are from free-roaming, community cats and many end up at shelters. That’s no surprise when we consider that only 2% of community cats are thought to be spayed or neutered. Community cats are the primary source of kittens each year, so we must focus our efforts on this population, and the most humane and effective way to help these cats is through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).
TNR is so effective for managing free-roaming cats because it stops a colony’s population from growing through spay/neuter, while reducing its size through the adoption of kittens and socialized adults. Volunteer colony caretakers, who visit daily to provide fresh food and water, then monitor the site for any new cats who arrive and need to be sterilized.
Examples of TNR’s success are everywhere. Just a few weeks ago, Alley Cat Rescue helped a woman who cares for a small colony at her workplace. Initially there were just two cats, but because they were not fixed, the colony grew to ten cats. We provided information about the importance of spay/neuter, and helped trap, sterilize, and return the cats. These cats now have sturdy, weather-proofed shelters, are receiving fresh food and water each day from compassionate employees, and importantly will no longer be producing kittens who could end up killed at municipal shelters.
This week we’ll be returning a mother cat named Juno to her colony site. She and her newborns were found by a caretaker who Alley Cat Rescue works with on a regular basis. We brought the new family in, found them a place in foster care, and now, after a few weeks of growing strong and socializing to humans, the kittens are being spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped and will be available for adoption soon. Juno will return to her supervised outdoor colony after recovering from spay surgery.
Each kitten Alley Cat Rescue takes in receives the medical treatment and supportive care that he or she needs to grow, thrive, and eventually find a permanent home, but there are many others who are not so lucky. To stop the tragic killing of kittens in shelters, we simply must reduce the number of kittens being born from community cats. Please join us in spreading the message that TNR is the best way to fix the flood of springtime kittens, and consider donating to support more of this life-saving work.