OAKLAND, Calif. — Everything we do at Cat Town is in support of the Oakland shelter. The Forgotten Kitten Project is no different. As Kitten Wire readers know, older shelter kittens who were not socialized with people in their formative early weeks need a lot of time and attention. And time is not a resource shelters have.
In order to better understand how shelter kittens come to be Cat Town FKPs (our term for members of the Forgotten Kitten Project), I followed our Cat Care Coordinator Marie C. on a recent trip to the shelter. There, she introduced us to roughly two dozen kittens between the ages of 3 and 6 months, all slated to come to Cat Town in the future.
Why? Maybe they hiss or hide when humans interact with them. Maybe they have a skin condition that needs treatment. They may be deemed "unadoptable" by shelter standards, but they are the focus of this project because we know that proven techniques can transform them into amazing companions.
"Pretty much any kitten in that older age range goes on my list," Marie said." They may get adopted from the shelter or taken by another rescue group if they become more socialized, but if not, they'll all come to Cat Town." She keeps track of every kitten's information — the date they arrived at the shelter, their medical history, their ages. And she evaluates which one needs Cat Town's resources the most.
Many factors go into deciding which kittens will come to Cat Town and when. As the kittens get older, they become harder to socialize. But older kittens, those beyond the 4-month range, are the cats driving the Forgotten Kitten Project's mission: If we don't rescue them, who will? At the same time, intervention with younger FKPS means a quicker socialization process, which allows them to find homes sooner, and that allows us to empty more shelter cages. Kittens who are sick are rarely taken by other rescue groups, so even if they are social, they risk losing those acquired skills sitting untouched in the shelter. It's a balancing act to figure out who needs our resources the most, and how quickly we can get them to Cat Town.
People often think of kitten season as the spring and summer, but at Cat Town, FKP season is just getting started. As we head into the fall and winter months, we'll start to see even more of our FKPs make their way to Cat Town. Most will go right into the Cat Zone where more confident cats will model positive behavior, helping the shyer ones move closer and closer to adoption. Until then, Marie will be keeping tabs on their progress at the shelter.
If you'd like to support our work in the Forgotten Kitten Project, we hope you'll consider making a donation or any size to Cat Town. And if adoption is in your future, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and see the almost forgotten kittens now available for adoption.
-- Cathy Niland