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‘Tis the season of giving ... and shopping!

Did you know your purcahses can make a difference? AmazonSmile donates to Pflugervilles Pfurry Pfriends Inc when you do your holiday shoping at  smile.amazon.com/ch/46-3140431
Santa Paws is coming to Hanovers Pflugerville!
Come see us on Saturday December 8th from 1pm to 5pm at Hanovers in Pflugerville for afun filled event hosted by our friends at Cuz i Matter Animal Rescue.
Try your luck with an awesome raffle and auction, visit with vendors, enjoy kids activities and of course, bring your pets to take a picture with Santa.
This is a family event so feel free to bring your kids and pets. Hanovers is located at 108 E Main Street in Pflugerville. See you all there!
It's kitten season! Do you know what to do if you find a litter of kittens?

What is kitten season?

​​If you've ever visited a shelter or rescue organization, chances are you've heard the words "kitten season", and you may be wondering what that is. Kitten season is the time of year when cats give birth, flooding animal shelters and rescue groups across the nation with homeless litters of kittens and pregnant cats. Kitten season typically starts in the spring, peaks in late spring or early summer, and ends in fall, but warm weather may increase the length of time the season lasts.​​ Kitten season happens because too many kittens are born when cats who are not spayed and neutered mate. The easiest way to help reduce the overwhelming numbers of unwanted cats is to spay and neuter your own cats, and encourage others to do the same. Unaltered cats are driven by their hormones and tend to sneak outdoors primarily in search of a mate. 
Mating just once can start a domino effect that can result in dozens, even hundreds or thousands of unwanted animals.

Cats can become pregnant as young as four months of age. Fortunately, kittens as young as three months and weighing three pounds can be safely altered. Many people ask their veterinarian to spay or neuter their pet. If you have trouble affording the fee, organizations such as Emancipet and Austin Humane Society can help. Work with your local animal control or feral cat group to help manage your neighborhoods feral and stray cat populations and make sure you spay and neuter your own pets as well.

I found a litter of kittens, what should I do?

During kitten season, it’s not unusual to discover a nest of unattended kittens or a single kitten seemingly abandoned by the mother. Your first instinct is to want to rescue and help these tiny defenseless babies but before jumping to the rescue, consider these recommendations.  

First, wait & watch

It is very rare for a mama cat to abandon her litter for no reason. In most cases, you might have come across the kittens while their mother is nearby searching for food, or is in the process of moving them to a different location. Try to determine if the mother is coming back for them, or if they are truly orphaned.
​To do this, stand far away from the kittens - 35 feet or more because if you stand too close, the mom may not feel safe to approach her kittens. You might need to go away completely as she may not return until she no longer senses the presence of humans hovering near her litter.

If you need to leave before the mother cat comes back, carefully evaluate whether the kittens are in immediate danger: Is it raining or snowing? Are there dogs or wild animals that might harm the kittens close by? Are there kids or adults who are likely to harm the kittens around? Are the kittens located in an area with heavy foot or car traffic?

To help with your decision, it is important to know that it might take several hours for the mother cat to return, and healthy kittens can survive this period without food as long as they are warm. Neonatal kittens are much more at risk of hypothermia than they are of starvation. During spring and summer months, waiting a longer time to see if mom will come back is much safer than during frigid winter months.

What if the mama cat returns?

If the mother comes back, don't worry, the kittens are in good hands. A kitten's best chance of survival is to remain with its mother until fully weaned (typically six to eight weeks) as the best food for them is their mother's milk. If you are able to safely approach the mom, you can offer a shelter and regular food to her, but keep the food and shelter at a distance from each other. Mom will find the food but will not accept your shelter if the food is nearby, because she will not want to attract other cats to food located near her nest. 

If you are able to access both the mom and her kittens, you can take them to your local animal shelter where they will receive food, veterinary care and a safe environment for the mom to continue caring for her babies. If you decide to take in the mom and babies and care for them at home, make sure to offer them a quiet and safe environment away from your own pets to avoid causing stress on the mom and to keep your pets safe from exposure to any potential disease. This is especially important if you have cats of your own. After six to eight weeks, you can safely remove the kittens from their mom and start socializing them to help them become ready for adoption. Remember that female cats can become pregnant with a new litter even while they are still nursing, so don’t forget to keep mom indoors and get the get her spayed as soon as she has weaned her kittens or you will have more kittens soon.

What if the mama cat does not return?

If after waiting a few hours, it appears the mother is not coming back, then remove the kittens and immediately offer them a warm and cozy area to stay while you determine your next steps. 

Carefully approach the kittens, scoop them up and place them in a carrier or box lined with towels or soft blankets.  If at all possible, include a heating pad (not too hot) for them to curl up on. Young kittens are unable to control their body temperature and it is very important that they stay warm in order to prevent hypothermia. 

If after If you take the kittens in and help them yourself, you must be prepared to see the project through. Young kittens need to be fed and stimulated for elimination around-the-clock. It is a time consuming and potentially challenging effort and not many people are prepared to handle it. Fortunately, there are many resources available online to help you know what to do to properly care for newborn and young kittens.

Austin Pets Alive and Austin Humane Society occationally offers classes on how to care for orphaned kittens. For infomration on available classes, contact them online. There are also many on-line resources that can help guide you on how to properly care for orphaned kittens as young as newborns. Here are a few websites you can visit to find out more.

Austinpetsalive.org/Baby kitten care
Best Friends.org/How to care for orphaned kittens
HumaneSociety.org/Kitten behavior basics

If you find that you are unable to keep the kittens, take them to your local animal shelter as soon as possible. Most local shelters have established foster care programs where kittens can be placed and cared for until they are ready for adoption. If you are interested in becoming part of your local shelter's foster care program, visit your shelter or go to their website to find out how you can join. Local shelters are always looking for more foster home volunteers to help keep the shelter volume under control as many do not have enough kennel space to handle the incoming volume of kittens during this season.