Things to know about kitten season


The Jacksonville Humane Society (JHS), along with the City of Jacksonville’s Animal Care & Protective Service (ACPS) and First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP), is seeking the community’s support to help save feline lives by sharing information on “what to do” when you find a litter of kittens during kitten season.

Kitten season is the time of year when unfixed cats procreate and give birth to kittens. As weather warms, cats go into heat. According to Best Friends Animal Society, “In most places across America, animals mate and give birth in spring. This phenomenon can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as longer days, better weather and more access to food, which means higher survival rates for the offspring of many species. Unlike other animals, though, cats can keep on reproducing, having litter after litter right up until the weather turns cold again. In many regions, kitten season can last from spring until early winter.”

During 2022, JHS and ACPS combined took in 5,352 kittens under the age of five months, and JHS served an additional 726 kittens via its Kitten Krusaders program. Kitten Krusaders encourages community members who find kittens to foster and keep them out of the shelter by connecting finders with no-cost veterinary care.

When people find a litter of kittens outside, it is often instinctual to jump right into “savior mode” and “rescue” these tiny cats. This notion has been given the moniker “kitnapping,” and all three agencies ask the public to not act on that instinct. Instead:

  • Watch and wait: The mother cat is likely nearby. A kitten’s best chance at survival is to stay with its mother. It may take a few hours for her to return.
  • If mom returns: Provide support (food, water, shelter) as needed and when the kittens are 8 weeks old, get mom and kittens spayed/neutered and find them homes.
  • If mom does not return: A home is a better option than the shelter. JHS can provide coaching on care instructions and help support your efforts to find the kittens new homes once they are ready.
  • If kittens are experiencing a true medical emergency, such a struggling to breathe, open wounds or visible ribs/spine, ACPS can be reached via 904-630-2489, or the MyJax app.

Kitnapping is not the best option for kittens, mother cats or shelters. Underage kittens are the most fragile population in shelters and require extra time, labor and resources that are not always available. When underage kittens arrive at the shelter, they most often have to go into a foster home the very same day, putting an extra strain on staff and volunteers. Also, when no one looks for the mother cat, she is left alone to continue reproducing in the community.

“If we can share the ‘Don’t Kitnap Kittens’ message throughout our community, we can collectively do what is best for these little ones and keep them with their mother cat,” said Denise Deisler, JHS CEO. “Together, we can conquer kitten season in Jacksonville.”

Community members who want to help with the “Don’t Kitnap” initiative can share this messaging on social media, sign-up to foster kittens in their home at JHS or ACPS, and/or donate items via the kitten wish-lists on shelter websites. Volunteers are also needed for all three organizations.

Community members can also contribute by participating in trap-neuter-vaccinate-return programs offered at First Coast No More Homeless pets, which provide free and low-cost spay or neuter surgeries for outdoor community cats.

This year’s “Don’t Kitnap” campaign is sponsored by Jaguar Moving.

For more information, go to