Dallas Animal Services offers new text tool to prevent “Kit-Napping” this kitten season
Dallas Animal Services (DAS) expects to see hundreds of neonatal kittens come to the shelter during the spring and summer months and wants residents prepared for what is sure to be a busy kitten season.
“DAS is here to care for severely injured, very sick, and orphaned neonatal kittens (younger than 56 days),” said DAS Assistant Director MeLissa Webber. “However, many of the kittens that come through our doors are being actively cared for by a mother cat and their best chance of survival is to stay with her. DAS wants to help residents determine if a kitten truly needs assistance or if they’re accidentally ‘kit-napping’ a kitten and inadvertently doing harm.”
To help guide residents who find outdoor kittens, DAS recently launched kitten texting support. Residents can now text “KITTEN” to 833-936-0421 to have resources and information delivered to their mobile device. The texting support system is responsive and will send directions based on how each resident answers a few simple questions.
One of the questions the system asks residents is if a mother cat is nearby. It also provides guidance on what clues suggest that the mother is providing care but has left the kitten(s) to find food. DAS strongly advises against “kit-napping” or taking a kitten away from the mother cat before they are weaned. The nutrients and protective anti-bodies found in a mother’s milk provide the kitten with the best chance of survival.
“Mother cats might be afraid to come around if a human is watching,” said DAS General Manager Jordan Craig. “One great way to tell if mom is still around is to pour a ring of flour around the kittens, leave the area, and check back after a few hours to see if mom’s footprints are visible in the flour.”
If the kittens are injured, seriously ill, or truly orphaned and at an age where they need around the clock care, residents should call 311 or make a service request online.
Otherwise, DAS asks residents to leave the kittens where they are and ensure the mother has access to food and water. Once the kittens are approximately two months-old, they can call 311 and make an appointment for the kittens to be spayed or neutered by one of DAS’ partners.
Last year, DAS saw 1,060 neonate kittens come into the shelter April through August and expects to see the same number, if not more kittens this year.
DAS also needs many kitten fosters to help care for the influx of kittens. Become a foster or donate kitten care supplies from the shelter wish list by visiting BeDallas90.org.
Visit DFWkittennetwork.com for additional information on what to do if you find outdoor kittens in your community.