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Don't be so quick to "rescue" litters of kittens, veterinarians - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Don't be so quick to "rescue" litters of kittens, veterinarians warn

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Kittens at San Luis Obispo County Animal Services. (KSBY photo) Kittens at San Luis Obispo County Animal Services. (KSBY photo)

An alarming number of feral kittens are being brought in by the litter to the Atascadero Pet Hospital. 
 
Since February, Dr. Ofer Cherbinsky has seen at least 15 litters. Each litter with three to ten kittens. 
 
"This year seems to be slightly worse than usual," he said. 

Feral kittens just hours or days old are also being brought to San Luis Obispo County Animal Services. 
 
Experts say people think they are helping abandoned kittens but they should know mom is not far away. 
 
"People will find the kittens not realizing that the mom is coming back for them, think they're helping out by taking the kittens away and bringing them in either to the vet hospital or to us," said Dr. Eric Anderson, Manager of San Luis Obispo County Animal Services. 
 
Animal Services says if you do find a litter of feral kittens, the best thing to do is let them be. 
 
"If you get 8, 12 hours out and mom is not back then we might be more concerned for the welfare of those kittens," Anderson said.
 
During the first eight weeks of life, kittens need to be with their mother. 

Dr. Cherbinsky says half of the newborn kittens don't survive. 
 
"What happens is they go from us to foster families in the county. They try to feed them but it is not the same as the mother feeding them," he said. 
 
Many will come back to the hospital with upper respiratory diseases or severe pneumonia forcing them to be put down. 
 
Dr. Anderson says the feral cat population is stabilizing thanks to local spay and neuter efforts. 

While many of these kittens are cute, keep in mind they must be eight weeks old before they can be adopted. 
 

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