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Cat-laboration: Work Together to Be Successful Through Kitten Season

Kitten season will soon be upon us and the work we do now will be critical to for the coming invasion of kittens. When that first litter arrives at your shelter, those little nuggets are the cutest things on the face of the earth. But when it’s the end of June, and your shelter is full, you may be drowning in cuteness. So get ready before the season starts!

The first thing you should do is get your “kittens” in a row. Identify those things within your organization that need tightening up. Are your protocols up to date and is your staff fully trained on how to follow to them? Based on your answers, how many kittens can your organization realistically handle during the year?

The second thing is “cat-laboration” with other organizations in your community. It is the best way to navigate kitten season and maximize your community’s resources. Gather data on how many kittens you expect to help in your area; that’ll help you determine how many partners are needed. Here in Los Angeles, we have formed a coalition with NKLA and several other organizations to tackle our huge kitten challenge and it’s working great for us.

As kitten season approaches, invite all of the organizations in your community to a meeting and ensure RSVPs by serving food and drinks! In this meeting, assess each group’s resources and determine what sort of kitten volume they can handle. Some things to consider:

  • What organization is best suited to do what?
    • Adopt
    • Quarantine
    • Foster
    • Transport
  • Outline Protocols
    • What are everybody’s protocols and are they following current and best practices? Each organization should all be up to date on the current info that will help increase their positive outcomes.
  • Set Goals
    • Ask each organization to make a commitment to the number of kittens they can help and keep track of these numbers weekly.
  • Report and Communicate
    • It’s all about data! Everyone in your coalition should agree to share their statistics in the name of transparency. Assign one group to report data to the entire coalition monthly. Have a monthly in-person meeting with representatives from each organization in the community. During these meetings, each group should report on their successes and share their challenges.
    • We have weekly phone calls with our “Kitty Committee,” where coalition members discuss what is coming into the shelters and who can do what to help with critical needs. If one group is overwhelmed with illness, others will step in to pull more kittens.
    • Some things we may discuss on a call include:
        • Who has room in their ringworm program?
        • Who has had panleuk? What shelter did it come from?
        • How quickly are you clearing kittens with URI? Can you take any of ours?
        • Who can take bottle babies?
        • Who can take gruel babies?
        • Who has room for a nursing mom?
        • Who can help with fosters?
        • Who has room for more kittens?
  • Need to communicate more? Start a Slack Channel to talk daily about pressing needs and challenges.
  • Play nice in the litterbox!
    • We may disagree on some things but support each organization’s unique abilities. There isn’t just one right way to save lives!

Some Other Helpful Kitten Season Tips…

Ship ‘Em Out

When the number of kittens is too much to handle, transport to other communities is a great option. There are likely communities in other areas that don’t have the same numbers of kittens coming into their shelters. Work with organizations in your coalition to organize and share the cost of transportation.

TNR! TNR! TNR!

Do you have a TNR plan in place? We all know that the best way to slow kitten season down is to spay and neuter every cat we can, so support the spay and neuter programs in your area!

Show Love to Your Staff

High staff and volunteer morale is key during kitten season. Love on your people and make sure they feel supported because compassion fatigue can and will set in. Plan on providing special treats for your team during this time. They don’t have to be huge or even expensive; a candy bar with a note in their work station goes a long way.

Every kitten season we strive to save more lives. Cat-laboration with other organizations in your area is the best way to share knowledge and resources to tackle kitten season head on! Do you have suggestions or experience for building coalitions in your area? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Good luck!

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