Parsley, Mint and Sage were just a couple of days old when they were found in Altadena. Their tiny eyes and ears were still closed, and their umbilical cords attached. No mother cat was in sight and, sadly, one of their siblings had already perished. A well-meaning community member rushed the three kittens to our care.
By the next day, the three baby boys were off to a volunteer foster home. With gentle care, regular bottle feedings of kitten milk replacement, and lots of love, they are now thriving.
Parsley, Mint and Sage are just a few of the dozens of recent kitten arrivals we’ve seen at the shelter over the past few weeks, a sign that “kitten season” has officially begun in our area.
Every spring, like clockwork, shelters and rescues across the country see a flood of very young kittens come through their doors. These kittens are often orphaned and in need of extra care until they reach adoptable age, usually around two months old.
Thanks to our mild climate, kitten season in Southern California lasts for most of the year. Young, orphaned kittens and nursing litters will steadily arrive at our door in need of foster homes through fall.
If you love kittens as much as I do, here are some ways you can help kittens in our community right now:
- Become a foster parent: We are actively recruiting foster volunteers who are willing to raise kittens until they reach adoptable age. The foster period generally lasts two to eight weeks. We provide all the supplies, support and medical care.
- Donate kitten care supplies: Help keep our foster pantry stocked with nutritious kitten milk replacement, wet food, toys and litter to ensure our kittens grow up healthy. You can donate an item straight from our online wish list.
- Prevent litters in the first place: Spay and neuter your pet cats. If you are an overwhelmed cat caretaker or know of someone in your community who needs help with their cats, reach out to a clinic, like ours, that offers community cat spay/neuter.
- Watch and wait: If you happen upon a litter of healthy kittens, watch and wait for mom to come back. Young kittens have the greatest chance of survival by staying with their mom. When the kittens are weaned, mom is ready to be spayed, and the kittens are ready to be adopted.
- Seek assistance: If the kittens you’ve found are truly orphaned, or if the kittens are ill or injured, contact your local shelter for assistance. These kittens likely need your immediate help.
Now, back to Parsley, Mint and Sage. The trio are now almost two weeks old and are entering a new developmental milestone. Their eyes are starting to open, and they will soon begin exploring the world around them on wobbly legs. By four weeks, they will be moving around with ease. And by five weeks, they will begin their transition to solid food.
If you want to experience some of this adorable baby kitten magic, I encourage you to sign up to foster a litter. We especially need bottle babies fosters right now. Learn more about our foster program and donate supplies at pasadenahumane.org/foster.
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on April 8, 2022.