It’s kitten season in the Northeast — a time of year when cats give birth, filling the shelters with litters of newborn furbabies.


Because of the coronavirus pandemic animal rescue groups in the Poconos are closed, which makes it more difficult to rescue kittens and their mothers.


According to the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals, 3.2 millions cats enter shelters in the U.S. annually.


The spring and summer months numbers are higher due to amount of female cats (or “queens” as veterinarians would say) giving birth.


A female cat can give birth to three to 10 kittens, the ASPCA says.


Animal rescue organizations such as the Animal Welfare Society of Monroe have been relying on volunteers to help since the shelter in place was issued in March.


“Kitten season is in full swing, has been for about two months,” a spokesperson for AWSOM said. “We have wonderful volunteers that step forward to take care of kittens under eight weeks to care for them.”


If the mother has abandoned the kittens, or cannot be located, the volunteers are taught to bottle feed with the help of AWSOM’s staff. Any kitten who has medical issues is brought to the shelter for evaluation.


Lost and found (and what to do)


If you happen to come across a group of kittens, sans their mother, there are certain protocols you want to follow, according to AWSOM.


“Anyone finding kittens please be cautious. See if momma is around, since momma is the best to care for them,” AWSOM said. “We can not take feral momma or kittens that can not be handled.”


Currently, AWSOM has about 50 cats at the shelter and another 20 kittens out in foster waiting to be adopted.


Naomi Gauntlett, of Animals Can’t Talk in East Stroudsburg, has also been closed since March.


She’s been unable to rescue kittens in order to keep the “numbers down” since the pandemic began.


Still, she has assisted with rescuing kittens with the help of people in the community.


“A clever mother cat did have kittens on a volunteer’s deck, so I do have those four kittens, they are two weeks old,” Gauntlett said. “Someone in Penn Estates where I live has been helping someone who has a colony and she took two tiny kittens to help. They look to be about two weeks old. I tried putting them with my two mommas but they were rejected, then we found out they could eat on their own. Never knew such tiny kittens could, so she has some kitten milk and I gave her kitten pate and told her to make it soupy to help them.”


Gauntlett recommends that if you cannot take care of the kittens, and the shelters are full, try to post photos of the litter on social media and, as always, contact local animal shelters or a veterinarian for advice.


The Eastern PA Animal Alliance and AWSOM can neuter or spay kittens more than three pounds.


“I can help them at PetSmart (assuming they open the adoption center) to get them adopted,” Gauntlett said.



Happy tails


Many photos of kittens, all of whom are looking for a loving home, are available on AWSOM’s Facebook page.


Sometimes you’ll even read something heartwarming as well such as the story of a recent litter that were found with severe medical issues.


“These siblings came in with their Momma very sick. Biscuit (was) near death. We weren't sure she would make it through the weekend. But with the loving and diligent care of her foster family, she is thriving,” AWSOM posted on Facebook, along with photos. “Her sister, Muffin, is doing very well too. She does not have vision in her left eye and may lose it, but it doesn't slow her down! The two brothers Flapjack and Waffle made sure their sisters were well cared while their Momma was getting better too! Pics of their Momma, Mrs. Perkins, to follow! She is currently restoring herself back to her natural beauty.”


Ways to help


AWSOM, located at 3129 Godfrey Ridge Drive, Stroudsburg, is seeking donations of wet kitten food and kitten milk. A donation box is located outside the shelter.


Anyone wishes to foster pre-adoptive kittens can contact the shelter at 570-420-3647. Pre-applications for adoptions can be found at awsom.org


Animals Can’t Talk is also seeking donations. For information, call 570-242-2846