ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — When you see a litter of tiny baby feral kittens you may be tempted to scoop them up and race them to your local animal shelter, but Orange County Animal Services is urging you to think twice.
“While it may seem like a good idea to bring in extremely young kittens to OCAS to ‘save them,’ please understand that you are not rescuing them. You are most likely destroying any chance they have of survival,” the shelter posted to social media Thursday.
Shelter officials said a kitten younger than eight weeks old needs to be with its mother. If separated, they are less likely to survive and require near-constant care.
“Their chances of survival are cut almost in half when removed from their mothers, even under the care of the most ardent of foster parents,” shelter officials said.
OCAS says it currently has 224 neonatal kittens in its foster program that were either orphaned by accident or by lack of knowledge.
In a single day, they said the shelter received four litters of kittens they said should have been left with their mothers.
The shelter’s foster system is exhausted, and they said kitten season has only just begun.
Here is what they say you can do to help:
- Be vigilant. If a litter is in an unsafe area, or the mom has not returned for several hours, contact OCAS or a local rescue. Do not remove them as the mother may still return.
- If you are willing to put in the work, become a foster parent or join our “Wait till 8″ program by keeping the kittens safe and fed until they are at least eight weeks old, when they can finally be placed for adoption.
- Support your local rescues. Kitten season is a trying time for all shelters and rescues nationwide. Volunteer your time and educate your neighbors. Feeding a feral cat population that does not need your help only leads to more litters.
- If you have any questions about kittens, contact the shelter directly at AnimalServices@ocfl.net.
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