REDDING, Calif. - You can add another season to the normal four, and this one comes in a fluffy, adorable and murderous package. It's kitten season.
Kitten season ranges from late February through June. It is essentially the time when most of the stray and feral cats give birth to their kittens.
Mark Storrey of the Haven Humane Society said that it's a huge problem because each year the kitten season adds more cats to an already overpopulated area.
But there are a few things you can do to help if you find a litter of kittens. If the kittens are very young, generally younger than 4-6 weeks old and are safe, it is usually best to leave them where they are. Their mother should take care of them and kittens that young take a lot of work to keep them healthy.
Officials say that if the kittens are older than four weeks old they usually will start to eat solid food, which means they'll be much easier to care for.
"Between four and six weeks, depending on the kitten, they should be eating a little bit on their own," said Storrey. "They're a lot easier, you don't have to do the bottle feeding like you did when they were one, two, three weeks old."
Those kittens can be taken in or surrendered to your local animal shelter.
But Storrey said the best thing to do to help the cat population is to capture feral and stray cats and have them spayed or neutered. That way they can't produce more cats and continue the overpopulation of Northern California.
He also said it's important to release the cats back near where you caught them. Otherwise they are outside of their established territory and they could have a tough time surviving.
Storrey said that it is important to not confuse feral cats with domesticated house cats. If you do want to bring them in to get spayed or neutered it is a good idea to catch them using a trap, not your hands. They are essentially wild animals and can cause some serious damage if you try to pick them up.
Haven Humane will spay or neuter cats and give them rabies vaccines for $35. Just drop them off in their cage Monday through Thursday between 7:30 and 9 a.m. You can pick them up later that day.
During the procedure they will clip the tip of the cat's ear to identify it as a ‘fixed' cat. They recommend leaving the cat in the trap overnight to give it time to recover from the anesthesia.