We get contacted frequently by people who want us to take their pet because they are moving.  My first question is invariably "Why are you moving somewhere that you can't take your family member?" which is then followed by excuses from the caller.

The reason I have little to no sympathy for these calls?  Because I managed to find an apartment that would allow me and my 2 Great Danes, with no pet deposit.  If I can do it, anyone can.  But if you feel incapable of finding pet friendly housing, there is help available.  Many realtors specialize in this area and there are actually more condos and apartment building willing to allow pets.

We recommend Andrea Crilly of Hybrid Realty Group if you are looking in Miami-Dade area.  The website is hybridrealtygroup.com and the phone number is (305) 333-5345.  Or you can also contact Mary Ann at ApartmentList.com. Take your pet with you when you move!  You wouldn't leave your spouse/child/parent behind - and you shouldn't leave your pet either.  Family is family.

Pet Friendly Miami Condos - Miami Condo LifestyleMiami, Miami Beach Condos which are pet friendly Miami and Miami Beach pet friendly condominiums for sale or rent are easily located by community on this page. This list is NOT a complete list but just the best information that we have gathered to date. To confirm whether or not a building that you are interested in has a "Pet Friendly" policy but is not listed here, please call the Miami Condo Lifestyle.com Team at 800-433-5960.  You can also go to: http://www.miamicondolifestyle.com/pet-friendly.php

Ten Things You Can Do to Help a Stray Kitten
"Each year, as the warm weather approaches, shelters across the country are inundated with hundreds of kittens without homes," says Aimee Hartmann, Senior Director of the ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics. "And aside from the large number of kittens who wind up in shelters, even more are born to strays, dramatically increasing the feral cat population."

If you find a stray kitten, here's what you can do:

1. Look for the Mother Cat
Take a step back and check if the mother cat is around. Chances are she is hiding or hunting for food, so stay back and watch the kittens from a distance before taking action.  Kittens under 5 weeks old are ALWAYS better off with mama than with humans.  The babies need to be fed every 2-3 hours, so the mother will return to check on them frequently.  The best way to help the family is to put out food for mama so she won't have to leave the kittens. We caution kind hearted kitten rescuers not to linger or try to handle the kittens as that may force mama cat to move them to a safer hiding place.  If the family is in a dangerous area (close to a busy street or construction), contact your local no kill shelter or a feral cat rescue group for information on how to trap a feral cat family.

2. Catch the Kitten
If you do not see a mother cat or siblings, approach the kitten to find out if she's  friendly—you'll know if she lets you pet her. Offer her some food as an incentive to bring her close. If you feel you can easily pick her up, do so—and remember, it's best to have a carrier open and ready.  If the kitten will not let you pick her up, the easiest way to catch her is with a no-kill trap. Contact Cat Network to find out how to borrow and use humane traps safely. 

3. Determine the Kitten's Age
Consult a veterinarian to find out how old the kitten is. Knowing its age is important for many reasons, namely to determine an appropriate food and feeding schedule.  See below for more info.

4. Keep Kitty Warm 
If the kitten in your care has been orphaned, it is essential that you keep her warm. A heated bag of rice or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel or a closely monitored heating pad on low temperature works well. The heat source should be positioned so that the kitten can move away from it as it becomes too warm. Please consult your veterinarian about ideal temperatures, and take care to monitor the heating pad.

5. Make Kitty Feel at Home
Once you have the kitten safe inside, make her a temporary home—a small box is perfect for this. Line the box with towels or blankets—a stuffed animal is a nice touch, too. Place the box in a cozy, draft-free area and include the heating pad or hot water bottle.

Warning: Do not let a feral or frightened kitten run loose in your house as she can easily get lost or trapped trying to hide. And be sure to keep her away from other pets as any parasites or illnesses she might be harboring may be contagious.

6. Feed the Kitten
  • How to Feed
    If you have newborn kittens who've been separated from their mother, consult with a veterinarian, no kill 
    rescue group or experienced foster care giver who can help you find a new mother cat with a small litter—she may be able to nurse the orphaned babies. If you can't find a foster mother, please consult with your veterinarian about the proper way to bottle-feed with a commercial milk replacer or goat's milk. Please do not offer regular cow's milk to cats of any age. It is not 
    easily digestible and can cause diarrhea.

  • What to Feed
    When orphaned kittens are 
    three to four weeks old, begin to offer milk replacer in a shallow bowl, then introduce a moist, easily chewable diet. You can make gruel from warmed milk replacer and a high-quality dry or canned kitten food. Serve it in a shallow bowl and feed the kittens several times each day. By six to seven weeks old, they should be able to chew dry food, and you'll no longer need to moisten it.

  • How Often to Feed
    The following is a general eating schedule for newborns and young cats:
  • Newborn kittens may nurse about every 1 to 2 hours.
  • At about 3 to 4 weeks old, they can be offered milk replacer from a bowl and then small amounts of moistened kitten food 4 to 6 times a day.
  • Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks old should be fed 4 times a day as you gradually decrease their access to milk replacer.
  • Kittens from 3 to 6 months old should be fed 3 times a day.

7. Teach Kitty to Go the Bathroom 
Kittens don't normally go on their own until they're 2 to 3 weeks old. After feeding, a mother cat will groom her babies, paying special attention to the anal area to stimulate excretion. You can dip a soft washcloth or piece of cotton or gauze in warm water and gently massage the anal and urinary areas.

When the kittens are 4 weeks old, you can teach them to use a litter box by placing them in a shallow box after their meals. Please be sure to use clay or pine litter for kittens under 7 weeks old!  Clumping litter, if digested by a young kitten, can be fatal.  They cannot process or eliminate it as older felines do.

8. Check for Fleas
Check for and remove fleas as soon as possible because a kitten with fleas can become anemic. Use a flea or nit comb—you can purchase one at your local pharmacy. Do not use flea medications, shampoos or powders unless guided by a veterinarian—these could be fatal. It may be best to use a damp cloth to remove any feces or grime.  However, if bathing seems necessary, take care to completely dry the kitten and keep it warm. 

9. Visit the Vet
Any new or stray cat you bring into your home should be examined by a veterinarian. Stray kittens often carry internal and external parasites that can weaken their immune system and may be contagious to other animals and humans. Your veterinarian will check for signs of illness and may screen for other diseases. On her first visit to the vet, a kitten can begin a series of vaccinations to help protect against life-threatening diseases like panleukopenia.

10. Spay and Neuter Your Cats 
The best way to reduce numbers of unwanted kittens in your community is to have stray cats spayed or neutered. In addition to private veterinary clinics like Banfield Pet Hospital, there are low-cost spay/neuter resources available such as Cat Network's Meow Mobile, Planned Pethood, Miami-Dade Animal Services, and the Humane Society's Soffer-Fine Animal Clinic. 

Thank you for being part of the solution to reducing animal overpopulation!  We can change the future by altering homeless cats now.
Whether you find a dog or a cat, you should follow the same basic notification steps: 

1.  Have the animal scanned for a microchip. If microchipped, contact the registered owner. 

2.  Contact Animal Services to notify them you have found a pet. In Miami, e-mail asdlostandfound@miamidade.gov with the date and location where the animal was found, a complete description (species, gender, sterilization status if known, breed or breed mix if known, color, markings, approximate age) and your contact information (e-mail and phone). REQUEST THEY SEND A REPLY ACKNOWLEDGING NOTIFICATION.

If possible, make a flyer including a photo and send it as an attached file. You can call 305-884-1101 and follow the prompts if you are not able to access e-mail. County law requires dogs be held for a minimum of 5 days before being rehomed, so this is particularly critical if you plan to rehome the animal. All other notifications should not contain too much detail (you want the caller to be able to provide relevant details to help correctly identify the owner). 

 3.      Place a free "Found Pet" ad in the Miami Herald. Ads must be placed via fax 305-995-8110 or e-mail adsbyemail@herald.com.

Tuxedo Cat
SW 152 St. & 107 Ave.

4.  Place a free online ad in the Miami Herald Online at www.herald.com/classifieds. Click on Place an Ad, then click on Pets (Adoption/Sale) and finally select Total Online Package Basic.

5. Call Pet Owner's Alliance at 1-800-US-Stray, post notices on craigslist, www.lostpets.com, www.pets911.com, www.dogdetective.com, www.petfinder.com. Post flyers at local vets, grocery stores, pet stores, laundromats, and throughout the neighborhood and on posts at major intersections near the location the animal was found.

When someone contacts you and claims to be the owner/guardian of the animal, request copies of vet records, photos, etc. to prove the animal is theirs. If the animal is not current on rabies, county license (for dogs) and is not microchipped, explain the importance of these items, and offer to meet them at the Humane Society with the animal so they can have these services completed before turning the animal over to them.

If it is a highly adoptable dog and they refuse, tell them if surrendered to Animal Services (along with their name and contact information), they will be fined more than the cost of getting all three services at the Humane Society. This way the animal has some protection should it escape again.

Keep in mind, that it is almost always far preferable for an animal to be returned directly to its owner if it has one than to go to Animal Services. If you are unable to temporarily foster an animal, and do not know anyone who can foster it, consider asking your veterinarian if he or she will board the animal. Many rescuers have advance arrangements with veterinarians who allow them to board found pets (on a space available basis) at a discount.

Good luck!

Love cats but can’t be around them without experiencing sinus congestion, itchy eyes, or breathing problems? Take heart: There may soon be a vaccine for people who are allergic to cats. Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, recently reported that they have developed a vaccine that successfully treats people with cat allergies. It’s not ready for prime time yet, but the vaccine may someday be an alternative to frequent allergy shots or medications — or giving up a beloved family pet.

In the meantime, find out what exactly causes cat allergies and how to reduce your symptoms.

Cat Allergy Basics
If you’re allergic to cats, you are not alone. Between 15 and 30 percent of people with allergies are allergic to pets, and cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. “Cat tends to be a very allergic type of protein,” says Julie McNairn, MD, an allergist and immunologist in Cincinnati. While some people have an allergy to only certain breeds of dogs, it is different with cats. "If you have a cat allergy, you will probably be reactive to all cats,” says Dr. McNairn.

Many people believe that cat hair causes the allergy, but the offensive allergen is a protein shed from a cat's skin or hair and also contained in its saliva and urine. This allergen can be transmitted from the cat to other surfaces, including your clothing and the walls, and can even be present in the air. In fact, studies show that cat allergen can be found practically everywhere.

 "Even if a cat has never lived in a room, you can find" cat allergen, says McNairn. Some people who have a cat allergy will show symptoms of a reaction — stuffy nose, inflamed eyes, for example — almost immediately after entering an area where cat allergen is present. Others will not show symptoms until days after coming into contact with the cat.

Allergy reactions vary, from sinus symptoms to a skin rash to a severe asthma attack. Having a cat allergy can even make you more likely to develop chronic asthma.

10 Tips to Reduce Your Cat Allergy Symptoms
If you think you have a cat allergy, the best way to avoid reactions is to live in a cat-free home. But if you can't bear the thought of living without your cat, try the following steps:
  • Don’t let your cat come into your bedroom.
  • Keep your bedroom door closed and thoroughly clean your bedroom on a regular basis.
  • Keep your home de-cluttered and clean.
  • Replace carpeting with solid surface floors.
  • If you have carpets or rugs, steam clean or wash them on a regular basis.
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and wear a dust mask when you vacuum.
  • Consider adding an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to your air conditioning/heating unit and use the cleaner for four hours or more each day.
  • Have your cat cleaned and groomed weekly.
  • Assign the brushing of the cat and cleaning of the cat's litter box to someone in the household who is not allergic.

Before making the decision to remove your pet from your home, you can confirm your cat allergy by visiting an allergist or by monitoring your symptoms. Just removing the cat from your home is not enough, however. The allergens will still be in the home, and symptoms can persist for months after the cat is removed.  

 Unless you have a very easygoing or cooperative cat, you will find out just how difficult it is to give tablets or liquid to your feline. Opening the mouth with one hand and popping the tablet down with the other sounds simple in theory and looks effortless in photos and diagrams, but the average cat is not going to take medication without a struggle. In fact, that sweet kitty may very turn into a feral beast when it comes to medicine.  Pilling a cat can often be a two person job and cats are better armed (teeth, claws) than humans. Many cat care books provide photos, diagrams and step-by-step instructions for giving tablets. An even better approach is to get your vet to demonstrate - this will also give you an indication of how cooperative your cat is and whether it is a one-person or two-person job.  Once you are aware how your cat will behave, you will know if you need a second person or other equipment.

Many cats can detect even the tiniest amount of medication in their food and refuse to eat what they view as "contaminated" food. In nature, this helps guard them against poisoning, but in the home it makes medication a problem. If you give tablets in food, make sure the medicated food is served first and is eaten before you serve the unmedicated part of the meal. It is best to serve the medication in a small portion as you can more easily check that it has been eaten.

It may not be too crucial if a worming tablet/powder takes several attempts, and some wasted tablets, over several days. However, getting antibiotics, steroids or chemotherapy into your cat at the prescribed daily rate is very important. Some tablets must be given whole; they are designed for timed release when swallowed whole and could even be dangerous crushed, so please check with your vet.

Many cats respond better to minimal restraint so when medicating your cat start out gently and work up from there.

Here are a few suggestions to try first:

  • Be gentle but firm. Bullying your cat into behaving rarely works as it does in dogs.
  • Place your cat on a table or bench.
  • If an assistant is necessary, have him/her hold each of the cat's elbows so that they are locked straight and tuck the cat's body against his/her own. Have him/her gently lean on it to keep the cat against the table. It is a good idea if your assistant is wearing a sweater or shirt so if the cat tries to scratch with the back feet it can't do too much damage.
  • If this doesn't work wrap the cat in a large towel so only the head is visible. Placing your cat head first down the sleeve of something like a dressing gown may also work.
  • If your cat is well behaved hold the cat's head in the palm of your hand and gently tilt the cat's head back. Most cats reflexively relax their jaw and the mouth will open slightly.
  • In the opposite hand, hold the pill between the thumb and index finger.
  • With your middle or ring finger, gentle lever the jaw open and then place the tablet onto the back of the tongue. Push the tablet over the back of the tongue with a finger.
  • Quickly close the mouth and rub the throat to stimulate swallowing. Blowing on your cat's nose tends to give it a bit of a fright and may induce it to swallow.
  • Restrain your cat as above.
  • Hold the cat's head, this time holding both top and bottom jaw. Tilt the cat's nose slightly upwards.
  • Using an eye dropper or syringe slowly place the medication into your cat's mouth. The tip of the dropper can be inserted just behind the canine (fang or eye) tooth where the jaw does not completely close.
  • Unless the dose is small give the medication slowly allowing your cat to swallow and to lick the medication from its mouth before giving more.
  • Rubbing the throat or blowing on your cat's nose may help to stimulate swallowing.
  • Never inject into the back of the mouth as this may cause your cat to choke.
If the "easy way" didn't work, try these:
  • Wrap the cat in a towel, blanket or a pillowcase with only its head sticking out should immobilize the cat enough to protect against claws. Make sure the towel is wrapped securely. If possible, kneel and hold the wrapped cat between your knees to free up both hands. This method is not foolproof, but is certainly worth trying, especially if the tablet has to be given whole.
  • Check your pet store for a cat restraint bag - these are made of mesh and have a zip and a hole for the cat's head. They are designed for restraining a cat for bathing, but some are sturdy enough to be used when giving medication.
  • If the problem is getting the cat to swallow: After putting the tablet at the back of the cat's mouth, spoon or drip a couple of drops of water into the mouth to make the cat swallow. A couple of drops from an eye dropper is usually enough.
  • To make the "tablet-in-a-treat" method work, your cat should be used to getting occasional treats of the food in question and view the treat as something desirable e.g. a reward or accompanied by praise or following play. Many cats are suspicious of new foods and if you try to hide a tablet in something unfamiliar, you probably won't succeed. For many, the fact they are getting human food (normally forbidden) may be enough to make them gulp it down before you change your mind. Tablets do not mix well with dry food (kibble), but can be mixed with canned foods. Experiment to find out what treat foods your cat likes before you ever need to give tablets. For a long course of medication, you will need to vary the treats as many cats grow bored and/or suspicious.
  • Crush the tablet and mix with strong smelling canned food or with sardines in tomato juice or a similar very strong smelling treat. Foods worth trying include fish paste/pate or one of the stronger-smelling meats. Cats have much better senses of taste and smell than we have, hence the need for strong smelling, strong tasting foods.
  • Hide the whole tablet in a small piece of greasy cooked sausage, greasy cooked burger or greasy cooked chicken. Larger tablets will need to be broken into pieces and fed in several treats. Many cats are attracted to greasy meats (cats are designed to quickly metabolize fats into energy) and greed may overcome caution. Some cats will take tablets crushed in butter or even in cooked pork fat. These methods won't be suitable if your cat is sensitive to fat - vomiting or diarrhea will prevent the tablet being digested.
  • Hide the whole tablet in a piece of cheese which you have warmed in your hands so it can be molded into a ball. Larger tablets will need to be broken into pieces and fed in several treats. This method is only suited to cats which can tolerate dairy products.
  • Hide the whole tablet inside a hollowed out soft cat treat.
  • Liquid medicine can be mixed into strong smelling foods, such as sardines or mackerel. The varieties in tomato sauce are often most successful.
  • Crush the tablet and mix it with goat's milk which can be served on a saucer or dish.
  • Crush the tablet and mix with a tablespoon of raw chicken or beef minced up.
  • If your cat allows you to open its mouth or restrain it, but still won't swallow a tablet, crush the tablet in a pestle and mortar (or use the back of a teaspoon on a plate) and mix it with a little liquid such as lactose-reduced milk, tuna juice etc. Slowly spoon or syringe the liquid into the cat's mouth. It is likely to swallow this by reflex. It is best not to use an eye dropper as many tablets don't dissolve in milk or water and the crushed pieces (even if very fine) can clog the eye dropper (worse, they might form a cement-like solid in the eye dropper).
  • If your cat accepts being spoon or syringe fed, but won't swallow tablets, ask the vet if the medication is available in a liquid form.
If your cat is a sucker for tidbits from your meals, try some psychology. Cats will often beg tidbits from your plate when you are having a meal, but won't eat the same things when served in their usual bowl. They have a concept of these things being treats. Put the pill in a piece of sausage or chicken and have this handy when you eat a meal containing the same types of meat. Give the cat a tiny piece of meat from your own meal as a "loss leader". Having successfully begged for that tidbit, most cats will want more. Give it the piece containing the pill. Alternatively, if you don't want to encourage begging (which is probably the lesser of 2 evils if your cat is on lifetime medication), leave the piece of meat containing the pill on your plate and put it on the floor for the cat to eat when your meal is finished. Maybe drip some gravy or sauce on the meat so it seems like a genuine leftover.

If you have a multi-cat household, you must ensure that only the patient gets the medication. It won't do a sick cat any good if a less fussy housemate eats the tablet. If it is taking medication mixed into food:
  • Feed it in a different room, feed the medication in a small amount of food and let it rejoin the other cats for the main portion once it has eaten its medication (unless also on a special diet). It doesn't matter if the "different room" is the bathroom or bedroom, just so long as it is isolated from the other cats while the food is eaten.
  • Give the other cats unmedicated treats to distract them from trying to steal the medicated treat from the patient. This may also make the patient less suspicious of the special treatment. The competitive nature of cats at mealtime may encourage it to gulp down the medicated treat before another cat tries to steal it.
Hope this was helpful!Hope this helps!
What is a Feral Cat?
A feral cat is unsocialized and avoids human contact. It may have been born outside and learned from its mother to avoid people.  It may have been harmed and now mistrusts all other animals.  Even if it had been someone's pet at one time, it may have lived outside so long that it is now feral.  Whatever the reason, these cats are most comfortable outside and do not make good pets.  Best case scenario for them is to belong to a colony (a group of cats) with a responsible feeder.  A person that not only consistently provides food but also practices TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return).  If outdoor cats are not sterilized, more feral kittens are born and the cycle continues.

What is a Stray Cat?
A stray cat is socialized and may have at one time been someone's pet.   Being forced to live outside and fend for itself has a traumatizing effect on these animals.  When abandoned or accidentally lost, many are incapable of finding food or adapting to the unpredictable circumstances.  They may be able to develop a bond with humans, if they feel safe, but that trust may not be easily won.  These cats must be evaluated individually to establish whether they can ever be indoor pets again.

The truth is, we should forget these labels and recognize that these animals are community cats.  It's in everyone's best interests to handle the overpopulation issue as a community.  We are ALL responsible for homeless pets and there will be no solution until we address the situation together. 

If you have found a cat or a group of cats (a colony), and want to improve their lives, please contact Cat Network (www.catnetwork.org) or Alley Cat Allies (www.alleycat.org).

Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies (ACA) is the only national organization dedicated to improving the lives of outdoor cats and eliminating lethal animal control policies that kill virtually all feral cats entering shelters and animal control agencies. ACA consults with public officials and animal control officers across the country to help develop and implement municipal TNR programs.

Alley Cat Allies is also a vast resource for individuals caring for outdoor cats, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro. You can find an extensive library of fact sheets and information at alleycat.org. ACA can also provide you with a list of feral cat groups, veterinarians who spay and neuter feral cats, and individuals in your area who can help you with advice.

It is usually easier to find rentals or condos that allow cats than those that allow dogs or other pets. So, you’ve already got one thing going for you! With these suggestions, we hope you find the perfect home for you and your feline. 

1.    Be honest. Let the landlord know you have a cat(s).

2.    Do your research. Visit PETS911.com find cat-friendly rental options. Keeping the family together is important!

3.    Clean up. Practice good cat hygiene before and after moving into your new apartment – clean out your litter box regularly. Keeping odors out of hallways and out of your apartment will keep your neighbors and landlord happy. And, it’s healthier for you and your cat.

4.    Mind the claws. Does your cat scratch? Provide a scratching post for your cat instead of the door frames. It’s cheaper than losing your security deposit.

5.    Preview your new pad. Prior to moving in, be sure to do a “pre-move-in damage inspection” and have your landlord sign off on this as well. This way, you won’t be charged for pre-existing conditions. Better yet, your landlord will probably fix them prior to your moving in date.

6.    Money talks. Be prepared to pay a little higher security deposit and/or monthly rent if you have a cat. Not all landlords will require this, but some may. It’s better to be prepared for it than not to have it.

7.    Get it in writing. Ask what the landlord considers to be “pet damages” and make sure what is agreed upon is in writing. Be sure to follow any pet guidelines in the apartment complex. This way, you will know what you can be charged …and what you can’t be charged … when you move out.

8.    Oh behave! Get behavioral training for your cat if you know they have some issues (e.g. spraying). These behaviors may be corrected before you move…and may even have a medical basis behind them.

9.    Stay healthy. Be sure your cat is current on all required vaccinations. This benefits your cat as well as other pets in the apartment complex. While at the vet, ask about the benefits of having your cat microchipped.

10.  Play tag. Please put a collar and identification tag on your cat. For added security, consider a microchip. Even indoor cats can’t resist an open door or window all the time. Plus, when moving, there are greater opportunities to escape or become skittish. A collar and tag will get your cat back to you much faster. Many cats without collars are thought to be feral.  Even worse, your beloved pet could end up in a kill shelter. So, please protect your best friend.

Welcome home!

We hear a lot of opinions about the differences in adopting a cat vs. dog -- how cats might be too independent, not affectionate enough, lazy or demanding.  Here at SWK, most of us are homes of diversity…we've adopted both rescue dogs and cats.  And there are definitely differences between the felines and canines.  But when looking for a new four-legged friend, we guarantee you can find whatever you need in either.  But don't take our word for it - here's an expert opinion on the subject:

The Early Show's resident veterinarian, Dr. Debbye Turner Bell, says this about adopting a cat.   

"If you are thinking of adopting a feline, anyone who loves animals is a good candidate." She says cats often get a bad rap.

"People think cats are aloof and they are not fun like dogs. My cats follow me to every room, they meet me at the front door when I come home. They are very social. When they are raised properly from kittens, they love human interaction. If you think you love a dog, you'll love a cat. I guarantee it."

Cats are particularly good for people who live in smaller spaces or those with busy lifestyles, since they can be left unattended for longer periods of time than a dog and don't need to be walked.

Kittens also love to play. Turner Bells says they have a strong prey drive, so they like things they can chase. This "play behavior" teaches them to be healthy adults and toys are important for their development.

There's nothing cuter than kittens or puppies but felines have an edge in the training department.  Take housebreaking, for example.  In most cases, it's simply a matter of  placing the box in the designated area, showing him/her where it is, and...voila! kitty is trained.  That's because most mother cats teach their kittens to use a litter box, so we humans don't have to do much more than find a good location and keep it clean.  And that destructive phase of chewing that puppies go through when teething?  Kittens…not so much.  And you can completely avoid tracking in dirt (or fleas!) with a cat because it's an indoor pet.  That's not possible with the cute little puppy.

In this instance, we're obviously making the case for what makes cats adoptable.  But if you're thinking about adopting and can't decide between a cat or a dog, we recommend you get one of each!

"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet." ~ Colette


Heat cycles: Female cats go into heat thought out the year here in South Florida. Do to weather factors, most cats will go into heat in January or February of each year. Heat cycles in the female cats are regulated by the weather. The weather affects cats at the same time, creating a surge in pregnant cats at the same time. Female cats can, and often do, become pregnant while still nursing a litter of kittens. Most cats go into heat three times a year, and due to our warm weather, possibly even four times. A cat, unlike a dog, will keep repeating a heat cycle until she gets pregnant. Dogs go into heat twice a year, whether or not they get pregnant.

Kitten Seasons & Pregnancy: Pregnancy is 8-1/2 weeks from conception and kittens are up for adoption at 8 weeks of age. There are usually three seasons per year of 8 week old kittens: April/May, July/August, and October/November.

Weather: In addition to affecting the heat cycles on a female cat, a change of weather can stop a mating season instantly. Weather also affects kittens under 4 weeks of age. Cold, wet weather can kill kittens under 4 weeks of age.


 Estimating Age of Kittens:The following guidelines are useful for estimating the age of the kittens:

·        Under 1 week: Eyes are shut, ears are down, and they don’t walk.

·        1-2 weeks: Eyes start to open — they are blue — and ears begin to open. They crawl and knead.

·         3 weeks: Eyes and ears fully open. They respond to noises and movement and take their first steps.

·        4-6 weeks: Kittens run, play, dig and pounce. They are starting to wean, and eyes change from blue to their adult color.

·        8 weeks: Kittens look like small versions of adult cats. This is the best age at which to begin socialization.

Mama Cat:

“If the kittens are alone when you find them, they could be abandoned, or the mother could simply be looking for food,” says Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies president. She suggests observing them for an hour, depending on the kitten’s needs and a person’s time and resources.  Don't get too close or she may feel unable to safely return.

If the mother cat doesn’t return, determine if the kittens are young enough to be socialized and fostered or adopted, or if they are old enough to be trapped, neutered, and returned using the age guideline above, Robinson said. If they are not weaned, they need bottle-feeding and round-the-clock care.

If the mother does return, keep in mind that her care is best for the kittens, and they should stay with her until they are at least 5-6 weeks old.  Contact your local no kill rescue to make arrangements to find a home for the cat family.  If mama cat is friendly, they will trap her, pick up the kittens, and bring them indoors to a confined area until the kittens are adoptable.

If the mother is feral, it's recommended to leave the family outside and provide shelter, food and water. Once the kittens are weaned, they can be put into foster care for adoption.  If kittens are not handled by 5-6 weeks, they’re not socialized to humans. This makes them feral and difficult to adopt .  Be sure to spay the mother cat — so there are not future litters — and spay/neuter the kittens.

Just what is "kitten season?" Most people know that spring and summer time are marked by rebirth and renewal, when animals of all kinds bring forth their young. It's probably safe to say that most people also are unaware of how enormous the problem of overpopulation has become.

Every year, many thousands of kittens are born that will never have homes, will never have enough food, will never have a future, and will either die of starvation, predation, cruelty or accidents, or will end up in shelters - where most will be euthanized.

It's a cycle of misery and death - one that never was designed by Nature to happen that way. The huge explosion in the populations of stray animals is largely due to humans. As more and more people choose cats as pets, more are born as a result of not spaying and neutering them.

As many also are allowed to roam or are abandoned, the populations on the street increase exponentially also. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the biggest reason for the kitten explosion is the uncontrolled reproduction of owned and un-owned cats.

The most significant thing anyone can do to curb this problem is to get all cats altered, starting with one's own pets, and to manage the stray and feral populations by altering them, too. Many communities are having great success with Trap-Neuter-Release programs, where strays are trapped, given veterinary care, such as altering, vaccinating and treating wounds, then are released back to their old locations.

Other communities attempt to control the problem by Trap & Kill. As I have said for years, if killing them worked, why hasn't it worked yet?

There is something known as the "vacuum effect." Perhaps it is the best explanation. Until someone finds a better one, I will continue to explain how it is believed to work.

When resident cats are removed from their territories, new cats move in. That's it. That's the vacuum effect. The new cats then set about creating a whole new population.

The reason TNR (trap-neuter-release) works is because the resident cats are not removed. They simply are slipped away for a day or two, fixed, then returned, where they can continue to guard their turf, but no longer will contribute new life to the group.

It's not hard to show cat lovers the logic of this solution, but even so, there are many who are unable to afford veterinary services. This is why there are some organizations dedicated to assisting those in need with funding. (See our "Resources" section for more info).

On the other hand, there also are many who do not believe in spaying and neutering - especially neutering. Some people believe it's not fair to male cats to stop them from the "fun" of tomcatting around the neighborhood. Some men even brag about their own cats fathering new kittens all over town, as if this proves their own virility. It's a demented and cruel view, in which millions of cats suffer terribly.

The answer, however, is actually quite simple. Unfortunately, there is great difficulty in implementing this simple solution. Convincing people to address this problem is extremely difficult. Some have no interest, some are not willing to spend the necessary funds, and some feel that trap-and-kill will eventually do the job.

We can only continue to try to educate and show by example that there are ways to help. What you can do:
  • Get your own cat(s) fixed.
  • Help a less fortunate friend or neighbor get one of their pets altered.
  • Contact your local animal control or rescue groups and ask if you can help them with anything, even if it's only a donation.
  • Adopt or foster a cat from the local pound or shelter if you have room.
  • If you are allergic to cats or have other reasons you can't have one, you can help your local groups with fundraising, supply drives, grant-writing or local events.
  • Talk to your friends and family about the overpopulation issues. Education is a good first step to solving any problem.
Copyright © 2009 - Dr. RJ Peters 
The Problem Cat