Animal Society: Found litters best left alone

  • Friday, May 9, 2014

Springtime is the start of “kitten season,” and that means the Charleston Animal Society will soon be inundated with litters of them. Though the organization appreciates the efforts of concerned citizens who bring them in to their shelter, they recommend that anyone who encounters a litter of newborn kittens to resist the urge to “rescue” them unless they are in potential danger.

“Quite often, kittens that appear to be abandoned are not in any peril,” says Dr. Sarah Boyd, Charleston Animal Society's director of Shelter Health and Wellness.

“Just like humans, mama cats have to leave their babies occasionally to feed or relieve themselves,” explains Dr. Boyd. “They may even be away for up to eight hours, but are usually close by.

“Kittens that appear to be safe should be left alone under their mother's care,” says Boyd. “Keep an eye on them if you are concerned for their safety. If you see the mama cat, they should be fine.”

Boyd also suggests putting fresh, cool water and food out for the mama, but preferably away from the kittens. A box with some clean, soft towels nearby may serve as nice bed for them.

Of course, there are instances in which kittens need human help.

“If they are showing signs of distress, such as loud meowing or breathing with their mouths open, they probably need your attention,” explains Boyd. “If the mama cat has not returned for over eight hours, there is a strong chance she is unable to return.”

Individuals encountering kittens in need of help can either take on the responsibility of caring for them, which is an around-the-clock job, or bring them in to Charleston Animal Society between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Once there, a foster caregiver will be assigned to care for the kittens.

Charleston Animal Society encourages anyone who encounters a litter of kittens outside to consult www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/newborn-kitten-care.

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