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Don’t “Kit-nap” the Kittens!

Cat 2 scaled - Don’t “Kit-nap” the Kittens!

How to properly handle finding stray kittens in your backyard

Each spring, the nation must brace themselves for what Miami-Dade County refers to as kitten season, when many kittens with no mothers are found in residents’ backyards or on local streets. Usually, people who find these kittens immediately take them in or try to bring them to a shelter.

Our editor at Calle Ocho News, Rosi Rosell, recently found four kittens in her backyard. Rosell immediately tried to care for them when she realized they did not have a mother but found it very difficult to keep up with the kitten’s need to be bottle-fed every two hours. 

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This is a common problem, according to the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department, which noted that when kittens are separated from their mothers, they actually have a lower chance of survival. 

“In most cases, newborn litters of kittens don’t need human intervention and, in fact, taking the kittens is inadvertently creating orphaned kittens,” said MDC Animal Services Director Alex Muñoz. 

Thus, it is recommended that residents do not interfere with the kittens. People should simply provide food and water and keep an eye on the kittens until the mother returns. If you find that the kittens are in danger, you should move them to a nearby safe place so the mother can still find them. 

If the mother doesn’t return in 24 hours, residents should then take in the kittens. If she does come back, however, residents should wait until the kittens are two months old before bringing them and their mother to a veterinarian or an adoption center. 

Giving the mother a chance to return is crucial because many shelters lack the necessary resources to care for kittens brought to animal shelters without their mothers.

There are many resources for residents who find stray kittens to turn to. Rosell found a Facebook group called Miami Dade Community Cats through Daney Cabrera of Aguacate Sanctuary. 

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Through this group, Rosell met Samantha Ordieres, who has been fostering kittens for four years. Ordieres is a veterinarian technician at a local clinic and also works with Miami Animal Rescue, a rescue group that is currently taking applications for kitten adoptions. 

Another program was founded in 2017 by the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department. The program is called Kitten Cuddler Foster Program, which recruits community members to become foster parents to orphaned kittens. 

Fosters must be able to provide round-the-clock care to the kittens, according to Muñoz. The program also trains foster parents in caring for the kittens and provides a care kit with all necessities. 

For more information, visit the Miami Dade Community Cats Facebook page. 

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