With our society's preoccupation with reality television, perhaps the next new show should be "Kitten Season: San Jose"? Unfortunately most people would be shocked and horrified at the realities of how our area shelters, humane societies and cat rescue groups struggle to save these tiny lives during kitten season in the greater San Jose area.
Every year between April and October area stray, feral and domesticated cats give birth to many kittens. Statistic: Did you know that left unaltered a cat and her offspring can produce over 420,000 kittens in 7 years?
Sadly six months into kitten season, pre-wean kittens (kittens under 8-weeks-old) are still pouring into our local shelter, San Jose Animal Care Center. The shelter reaches out on a daily basis to area rescue groups with a list of cats and kittens who need rescue. Many of these are underweight kittens. If the *rescue groups can't take these kittens which are typically under 8-weeks-old and weighing less than 2 pounds, they are sadly euthanized because they are not "adoptable" until they are old enough--and big enough--to be spayed or neutered. Statistic: More than 3500 pre-wean kittens are euthanized in Santa Clara County shelters every year.
*rescue groups rely on having foster homes to allow them to save more animals
In an effort to educate the public on what is involved in fostering kittens, Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty Rescue created the Pre-Wean Kitten Project. As part of the Pre-Wean Project, IBOK Rescue provides Starter Packs available to more than 20 Bay Area shelters and to all 40 Pet Food Express stores. In addition, IBOK produced a 30-minute instructional video on how to care for pre-weaned kittens. The video shows you everything you need to know to hand-raise the kittens until they are old enough to be adopted and is available on DVD and online (watch it here). I personally have used the pre-wean packet and attended IBOK's class at HSSV. As a result, my current foster kittens are thriving. Until you try bottle feeding these little ones, you have no idea how rewarding it is, not to mention life-saving for the kittens.
What else can you do to help? Spay/neuter ALL of your pet cats. This act alone helps save thousands of lives! In our area, the San Jose Animal Care Center has low cost/spay neuter clinics for cats on a weekly basis. Make your appointments online and for $20 females, $15 males you can do the responsible thing for your cat/s.
Reality check: As I was leaving HSSV with my foster kittens, someone had brought in a card board box full of kittens found in a dumpster. Again, please save a life and spay/neuter all of your pets. That's the least we all can do!