Everyone knows nothing is cuter than kittens! But every year, millions of kittens need help and don’t always get the care they need. This is particularly true during kitten season, from early spring through late summer, when the most litters are born and people are more likely to find kittens and bring them to shelters. Communities and shelters can work together to save them, and Alley Cat Allies can help.
Here’s the hard truth: Most kittens, especially those who are unweaned and neonatal (less than four weeks old), brought to animal shelters are killed. There are a lot of reasons why this happens: The majority of shelters don’t have the programs in place to care for neonatal kittens. Kittens require intensive, around-the-clock care. Kitten nurseries, which are few and far between, are always full, stretching staff and volunteers thin. Plus, it’s hard for kittens to thrive in shelters, where they can easily get sick.
But there is good news! Animal shelters and communities can come together to save kittens’ lives through the innovative Wait Until 8® program. This program empowers individuals in the community to care for kittens themselves. Any community can implement this program–it just takes collaboration between the shelter and community.
Community members bring kittens to the shelter because they want to do the right thing and help the kittens, but they don’t know how. By providing some basic resources that empower individuals to care for kittens, shelters can harness that compassion to save lives.
How it Works
- Good Samaritans who find kittens are empowered to become kitten caregivers.
- Instead of admitting young, unweaned kittens, the shelter gives the person who found the kittens the tools to care for the kittens. Or, the kittens can go into foster homes. The shelter provides a Kitten Care Kit with the supplies the new kitten caregiver needs, and instructions on how to care for the kittens.
- The person who found the kittens, or the volunteer foster caregiver, cares for them until they are eight weeks old.
- When the kittens are eight weeks old, or weigh two pounds, they come back to the shelter for a veterinary checkup, to be spayed or neutered, and receive vaccinations.
- The kittens can then enter the animal shelter’s adoption program to find their forever homes (or be adopted by their caregivers)!
That’s it! Simple. Life Saving. Kittens stay out of animal shelters that lack the capacity to care for them, new kitten caregivers get the materials and information they need to save kittens’ lives, and the animal shelter helps to find homes for the adoptable kittens who are spayed or neutered and vaccinated when they’re ready, at 8 weeks old.
This is the future: shelters and the community coming together to help save as many lives as possible. Any shelter and community can do this, and we’re here to help! That’s why we’ve launched this campaign nationwide.
Learn what goes into a Kitten Care Kit and build your own.
Learn how to care for kittens.
Animal Shelters: Sample Wait Until 8 program protocol and FAQ