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Outcast Cat Help answers community’s questions

Outcast Cat Help advises people to be patient when finding unattended kittens, and to wait for the mother to return. Raising kittens is a big decision not to be taken lightly. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / On File)
Outcast Cat Help advises people to be patient when finding unattended kittens, and to wait for the mother to return. Raising kittens is a big decision not to be taken lightly. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / On File)

By JULIE LINFORD
Special to the Tribune

Outcast Cat Help is out and about in Martinez and local communities a whole lot, and we meet many well-intentioned citizens who love animals and are trying to help with the free-roaming cats in their neighborhood or even their yard. We thought we’d use this forum this week to share some of the common questions folks ask us, and our answers.

Q: How do we care for the free-roaming cats we inherited when we moved in? Are there resources available to get them fixed? We can’t afford to pay for that.

A: First of all, list all the cats that come around, so you know how many you have. Be sure to look for any that have eartips indicating that they’re already fixed. This will require you to observe the cats that come to eat. Leave the food out at the same time daily for 20-30 minutes and the cats will learn the routine after several days. Feed them only during the day, and only enough for the cats you are caring for (a good rule of thumb is ¾ cup of kibble per cat per day). Clean up after them to promote good neighbor relations. Caretakers play the biggest role in the kitties’ successful cohabitation in our communities!

Get all the cats spayed/neutered, ear-tipped and vaccinated, especially for rabies. There are a couple of resources available for low cost spay/neuter: Fix Our Ferals in Richmond, (510) 215-9300; and SNIP in Martinez, (925) 473-5027.

Q: What do I do if I find kittens?

A: If you find a nest of kittens, determine if the mother is still in the area. The only way to find this out is to wait. Observe from a distance to be sure she is not returning. Often times, she will return within a few hours after finding food for herself. Do not panic if the kittens haven’t eaten within 2-3 hours. If they are sleeping and peaceful, all is well. Use common sense and be patient.

If the mother cat doesn’t come back after several hours or the kittens are crying, you can choose to raise them yourself. Do not take this decision lightly! There are two things that kittens basically need in this order: warmth and food. If the kittens are not eating on their own, you will need to bottle feed them and create a nest with towels and a heating pad on low underneath it. Taking the kittens to Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) is not the answer for kittens not eating on their own. Bottle feeding is labor intensive and CCAS does not have the resources for this. There is a lot of information on the Internet about how to bottle feed and care for kittens.

If the mother cat does return for her kittens, she is the best care for her kittens. Provide food, water, and shelter. Monitor the family daily and make the environment as safe as you can. If you decide you don’t have the time or the resources to foster, socialize, and adopt out the kittens, then you can trap, neuter, and return (TNR) the whole family when the kittens are 8 weeks old or two pounds. If you can foster, socialize and adopt out the kittens, the ideal window of time to bring in the kittens is when they are between 6 and 10 weeks old. You want the kittens eating on their own but as young as possible; the prime socialization age is between two and seven weeks of age. The best thing for the mother cat is to be trapped, spayed, and returned to her outdoor home where you’ll provide food and fresh water for her daily.

Outcast Cat Help
(925) 231-0639
outcastcat.org
facebook.com/outcastcathelp
outcastcat@outcastcat.org

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