With kittens across the U.S. in danger of being killed in shelters this spring and summer, Alley Cat Allies is offering its Wait Until 8 program to help animal shelters, humane societies, and communities work together to save kittens’ lives instead.
Many kittens are born between early spring and late summer, a period known as kitten season. During this time, well-meaning people find kittens outside and attempt to help by bringing them to shelters. However, they often don’t realize that most kittens brought to shelters, especially those who are less than eight weeks old, will also die there. The reason for this is that newborn kittens require intensive, round-the-clock care. Most shelters are ill-equipped or unable to provide such care, so too often, these kittens are “euthanized.” The smallest neonatal kittens sometimes can’t even survive for more than a few hours without intensive care.
Wait Until 8 (Weeks)
The Alley Cat Allies Wait Until 8 program addresses this problem. Instead of admitting young, unweaned kittens, shelters participating in the program harness the compassion in their community and give inexpensive tools to care for kittens to the people who find them. These tools come in a Kitten Care Kit that includes formula, a nursing bottle, a syringe for food and medications, canned food for kittens who start weaning, a foil pan and kitty litter for a starter litter box, cleanup pads, and a cat carrier to transport supplies or kittens. This kit is literally their life-line.
Wait Until 8 also encourages people who are already motived to help. With the help and guidance these programs offer, people can save lives themselves. Even if caregivers don’t have an active program nearby, they can still create their own Wait
Until 8 kit. Simple, do-it-yourself ideas on Alleycat.org offer guidance on how to make homemade kits that people can assemble quickly and inexpensively.
Using these DIY kits, these instant foster homes then care for kittens until they are eight weeks old or weigh two pounds, when they come back to the shelter for a veterinary checkup, where they are spayed or neutered, and vaccinated. The kittens can then enter the shelter’s adoption program or be adopted by the caregivers who found them.
Shelters Teaming up with their Community
Becky Robinson, the president and founder of Alley Cat Allies, said that the Wait Until 8 program encourages partnerships to save kittens’ lives.
“Shelters need help to save the kittens that come in the door, especially when they don’t have the ability or staff to care for them. Wait Until 8 promotes the same type of shelter-community partnerships necessary for any community cat program to succeed,” Robinson said.
Wait Until 8 has proven successful in Hillsborough County, Fla., where the number of kittens “euthanized” dropped by 80 percent from a peak of 3,200 five years ago.
“Our citizens are helping to care for kittens they find, which allows our foster care volunteers to care for those we find in the field,” said Scott Trebatoski, director of the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center.
In addition to fewer cats being killed, Wait Until 8 helps to limit shelter population numbers, which keeps adoptable pets healthy and allows staff to spend more time caring for them.
Find more information about the Alley Cat Allies Wait Until 8 program at alleycat.org.