What you need to know and how you can help

What you need to know and how you can help
What you need to know and how you can help

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three animal advocacy groups in Jacksonville are asking the community for help as the annual “kitten season” approaches. They share information on what to do – and what to avoid – for the best possible help.

The Jacksonville Humane Society and the city’s Animal Care & Protective Service took in a combined 5,352 kittens under five months of age last year.

First Coast No More Homeless Pets joins these agencies in asking for the community’s support to help save lives this year during “kitten season.”

Kitten season is the time of year when unfixed cats reproduce and give birth to kittens.

When the weather gets warmer, cats go into heat. According to Best Friends Animal Society, “In most places across America, animals mate and give birth in the spring. This phenomenon can be attributed to a number of factors, such as longer days, better weather and more access to food, which means higher survival rates for offspring of many species. However, unlike other animals, cats can continue to reproduce and have litter after litter until the weather turns cold again. In many regions, the kitten season can last from spring to early winter.”

On top of the rescued kittens last year, JHS served an additional 726 kittens through its Kitten Krusaders program. Kitten Crusaders encourages community members who find kittens to foster and keep them out of shelters by connecting finders with free veterinary care.

JHS, ACPS and FCNMHP want you to save and share this information about what to do when you find a litter of kittens during kitten season.

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They said it’s often instinctive to jump right into “savior mode” and “save” the little cats. This performance has been dubbed “kitnapping” and all three agencies are asking the public for it NOT act on that instinct. Instead:

  • If mother returns: Provide support (food, water, shelter) as needed and when the kittens are 8 weeks old, have mother and kittens spayed/neutered and find homes for them.

  • If mother does not return: A home is a better option than a shelter. JHS can provide guidance on care instructions and help you find new homes for the kittens when they are ready.

  • If kittens experience a true medical emergency, If you have trouble breathing, open wounds, or exposed ribs/spine, ACPS can be reached at 904-630-2489, myjax.custhelp.com or the MyJax app.

Kitnapping is not the best option for kittens, mother cats or shelters, the agencies urged.

Minor kittens are the most fragile population in shelters and require extra time, labor and resources that are not always available. When underage kittens arrive at the shelter, they usually have to go into foster homes on the same day, which puts an extra burden on staff and volunteers.

Also, when no one is looking for the mother cat, she is left alone to continue reproducing in society.

“If we can share the ‘Don’t Kitnap Kittens’ message throughout our community, we can collectively do what’s best for these little ones and keep them with their mother cat,” said Denise Deisler, JHS Director. “Together we can conquer kitten season in Jacksonville!”

Community members who want to help with the “Don’t Kitnap” initiative can share this message on social media, register with JHS or ACPS to foster kittens in their home, and/or donate items via the kitten wish lists on shelter websites . Volunteers are also needed for all three organisations.

Community members can also contribute by participating in Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return programs offered at First Coast No More Homeless pets, which offer free and low-cost spay or neuter surgeries for outdoor community cats.

This year’s ‘Don’t Kitnap’ campaign is generously sponsored by Jaguar Moving.

For more information, please visit jaxhumane.org/kittenhelp.

Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

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