Animal Services: Avoid the temptation to ‘kitnap’ abandoned kittens

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 4/14/21

CLAY COUNTY – Don’t “kitnap” cats this kitten season. Instead, foster or adopt.

Kitten season has just begun and you’re likely going to be seeing cute kittens all …

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Animal Services: Avoid the temptation to ‘kitnap’ abandoned kittens


CLAY COUNTY – Don’t “kitnap” cats this kitten season. Instead, foster or adopt.

Kitten season has just begun and you’re likely going to be seeing cute kittens all over the county. Everyone will need to fight every urge to pick up these furry friends and bring them home because there’s a good chance they aren’t in need of their home.

“We always say ‘don’t kidnap kitties’ and that’s because most of the time, if you’re picking up a kitten, especially during kitten season, you’re likely taking them away from a mother who’s watching over them,” Clay County Animal Services program manager Courtney Sumner said.

A kitten or litter of kittens alone without a mother cat around might seem like kittens in need, but the reality is that the mother is probably out hunting. Sumner said if someone spots a litter of kittens, give it 24 to 48 hours before getting involved. There’s a good chance that in that time, the litter might not even be there anymore, Sumner said, because mothers often move their litters from place to place to avoid possible dangers. Sometimes, humans are perceived as dangers, or at least the scent of your dog on your clothes are perceived as a sign of danger to the mother cat.

If you’ve waited the 24 to 48 hours and still haven’t seen a trace of the mother, it’s OK to get involved at that point, Sumner said. She urges anyone doing this to get in touch with Clay County Animal Services. Not only will they assist you in the next steps of a kitten, they can get it into their foster program, which includes proper vaccinations, an eventual spay and neuter, and hopefully, an adoption placement.

The facility on State Road 16 is firing on all cylinders at the moment and the tell-tale sign of it is the emptiness of the cat staging area. With less than a handful of cats currently at the facility, Sumner said the team has been working around the clock to get cats into foster families and into forever homes, which is always the goal.

Clay County public information officer Annaleasa Winter said the facility’s success rates are some of the highest in the state and a model for facilities around the country.

“They have exceptional success rates here,” she said.

Sumner said it’s because everyone on the team is committed to getting pets of all kinds into the right homes. She also attributed that success to the facility’s many partners like Friends of Clay County Animals, Petco, PetSmart and Petsense.

“If you’re ever worried about the costs of fostering a cat, don’t be,” Sumner said. “Our wonderful partners like the Friends of Clay County Animals provide us with so much. They step in and cover the costs of things like medicine and treatment when our budget doesn’t afford us the ability to do so. It’s really a fantastic partnership we have with them.”

Sumner said one thing that’s great about fostering and adopting with Clay County Animal Services is the cat is already in their system, so future appointments and procedures are a breeze. It’s extremely important that anyone picking up a kitten or cat ensures it gets spayed and neutered, as this can help the entire cat population.

Cats can rapidly populate an area and form a colony because of how their breeding works. A kitten still nursing is able to have kittens and often time will, which creates this cycle of litters upon litters entering the population. Spaying and neutering cats can put a stop in that cat’s line, which helps the entire cat population.

If you catch a kitten and call Clay County Animal Services, you should be prepared for questions about that kitten. Have you seen their mom? Are they safe? Are there more? If a kitten or cat is in danger, making a split decision to take it in is OK, but a cat’s best chance for survival at a young age is its mother so if possible, let the kitten live on with the rest of the litter and its mother, Sumner said.

If you decide to bring a kitten in, or if you decide to foster a kitten this season, Sumner said to get in touch. Not only can her organization provide assistance with just a phone call or an email, but they can provide newborn kittens with a bottle kit and other information.

“Our goal is to make everything as safe and easy as possible for both the kitten and our foster families,” Sumner said.

Even if someone can’t foster a kitten this season but still wants to help, there are dozens of items in an Amazon Wishlist for the facility that can be purchased and donated to them. Just head to to see what the facility needs.

“Every little bit helps,” Sumner said. “This isn’t just one thing that makes it all work. It really is a well-oiled machine and it takes all hands-on deck to succeed.”

Sumner said Clay County Animal Services began its kitten season weeks, if not months, in advance. Things are quiet right now, but it won’t be quiet for long, according to Sumner.

One thing that’s going to make taking care of kittens and cats this season is the shelter’s new cat porch. Local Eagle Scout, Ethan Willimon, built the patio as an Eagle Scout project. It took 421 hours of work across several days and weeks to build. It was built using $1,573 of donations and materials, and it’s something the shelter is so excited to have.

“There won’t be any kittens out here ... but it’s a perfect place for some outside quiet time for all of our cats that come through,” Sumner said. “Be it laying in the sun, or just peeking at all the birds outside, or just getting to go somewhere different...where they can lay and play out here...we’re so thrilled here about this.

“Between this [the new cat porch] ... our partners, our staff and all of our wonderful foster families...we’re ready for this year’s kitten season.”


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