Kittens and more Kittens!

Did you know...

  • that a female cat can come into heat for the first time between the ages of five to nine months and can come back into heat about every two weeks?
  • that a cat's eggs are not released until after copulation to ensure that they are fertilized?
  • that a female cat can become pregnant again even if her kittens aren't weaned yet?
  • that there are three kittening seasons: Spring, Summer, and Fall, but in warmer climates, a cat may come into heat year-round?

What to Do if You Find Baby Kittens

1. Don't touch them. See that they are uninjured and step back 30-40 feet away from them. The mother may be very close watching you. Your presence could scare her away. Baby kittens need important nutrition from her milk, or they could die. Leave water and food nearby for the mother.

2. Some think that human smell causes a mother to abandon her kittens, but there is no solid conclusion on that point. The maternal instinct is strong, and many cats will nurse even orphan kittens that have been handled. An inexperienced first-time mama might reject the litter or a weak kitten, but what you may think is an abandoned litter might just be one that is being moved. Keep an eye on them from a distance to ensure that they are not injured by a dog or predator animal, and see if the mama comes back. If you have a likely shed or sheltered place, you could leave a box for her to use along with water and food, but don't move the kittens yourself.

3. If children are around, let them know that the kittens are too young and fragile for playing, and that they need to nurse and sleep so that they can grow up to be playmates.

4. If you intend to keep them or give them up for adoption, remember that kittens who haven't been around people and touched by them by about four weeks of age are likely to verge on being feral not make good candidates for adoption. This sounds contradictory, but just means that you need to look ahead, try to tame the mother through food and quiet, gentle movements, ask for help in learning how to trap the family, see if there is room at a local shelter, or adopt them only to people you trust.

5. For help with how to care for truly abandoned kittens, ask your veterinarian or shelter personnel, or go to kitten, or any of a number of sites online for tips. Kittens must be kept warm (two layers of towels on a LOW heating pad with soft plush toys to snuggle against as they would with the mama). They cannot digest formula properly if they are not warm. Do not feed cow's milk ever. Kittens will starve on it and probably develop diarrhea which is dangerous for them.



Spring Has Sprung!

S oulful howling in the kennels - everyone wants out.

P eaceful purring in the cat room - dreaming there, no doubt.

R ound the shelter, pets are watching for a kindly face.

"I 'll be your forever friend - come on, let's blow this place!"

N ow's the time to make a difference - do not leave them there.

G ive a pet a home. Or better yet, adopt a pair!

Spring is a time for sprucing up, new growth, fresh mornings, and long evenings. Doves are "mourning" or warning of rain, and the trees are in flower.

In the animal world, it can be a time of birth and delight. Isn't each bouncy puppy or cuddly kitten the cutest thing ever? The reality is that there are so many more pets born than there are homes to adopt them, that dozens will be doomed to abandonment, hunger, illness, and death. Puppies and kittens barely six months old can start the cycle all over again with litters of their own. Spaying or neutering your pet will prevent hundreds of unwanted litters and break the cycle of sadness.

Having your pup altered will help avoid testicular cancers, uterine infections, and breast cancer, and will lessen your dog's desire to roam, fight, or take up with a pack of strays. Every dog needs a human pack leader to be responsible for it, keep it healthy, and ensure that the community does not blame all dogs for the behaviors of a few unattended animals.

Cats need the same amount of attention and care as their canine counterparts. It is a much easier procedure if you have your female cat spayed before she goes into heat, and it helps prevent the same types of cancers as in dogs. Male cats will not have the urge to mark territory by spraying if they are neutered, and will be less likely to get into cat fights or bully other housemates. It's a win-win outcome.

If you need assistance with the cost of spaying or neutering, please call or come to Animal Harbor to inquire about our Low Income Spay/Neuter program. We want families to stay together with their pets. You can have a healthier pet, and your neighborhood will be free from strays if you and your neighbors work together to have your pets altered. If financially possible, you can assist a friend, neighbor, or a complete stranger through a donation to help fund the procedure for another cat or dog. Mail a check, or drop off a contribution at the Harbor marked PAW IT FORWARD S/N, and you will be a Harbor Hero for the animals and families of Franklin County!

Don't be Fooled -- Cruelty Is In Our Own Back Yard

Animal cruelty is usually a topic that no one wants to talk about. The deplorable conditions in which some pets are kept; the neglect that leaves animals hungry, thirsty, cold, and ill; the physical abuse many animals experience on a daily basis; the deliberate abuse and torture that is considered "fun" by some segments of the population; all these and more are the reality of what takes place right around us in our safe, secure communities.

The entertainment world in the past was less than paradise for many animals in films. People look the other way at rodeos when bulls are shocked and bucking straps tightened. Calves suffer neck injuries and death from being yanked into the air and slammed to the ground.

Circuses have long had the worst of reputations for their treatment of the animals who people assume are well treated, but in fact are often beaten into submission to learn "tricks" and spend long dreary hours chained or caged, waiting for the next performance. Stunning wild lions and tigers are whipped and cowed. Elephants, one of the most intelligent and sensitive of creatures, shuffle around the ring, lame from their lack of space and movement. The public outcry over their treatment has encouraged Ringling to phase out these acts sometime this year.

And in our own state, the shame of hiding the treatment of Tennessee Walking Horses has crossed the country and back to dirty our reputation. In 2017 Tennessee made the Humane Society's Horrible 100 list, citing a puppy mill with no fewer than 47 counts of animal cruelty in Mercer, TN. The evening news is no stranger to reports of dog-fighting rings. When they are discovered, the misery and mistreatment of these dogs and other bait animals is staggering, Even hardened investigators are moved to tears.

The clothing and restaurant industry allow cruelties in the name of fashion and cuisine. Paté de Fois Gras is the result of shoving metal pipes down the throats of ducks and geese multiple times a day to force feed them until their livers swell to ten times the normal size. If you own a down jacket, or comforter, know that it was manufactured because a goose as young as eight weeks old was restrained and had its feathers ripped out by hand. That will happen every eight weeks until it is slaughtered. In the fur farming business, animals are poisoned, electrocuted, have their necks broken, or in some countries are skinned alive. Labeling is sketchy with manufacturers labeling real fur as fake in order to fool customers.

Factory farm animals live in filthy, cramped cages; mother pigs cannot turn around in the space allotted; chickens live with hundreds of others, lucky if they can claim a space the size of a record jacket. Veal calves face the same lack of space (crates about 30" x 72"), are denied exercise, are anemic from the formula they are fed, and often suffer from extended diarrhea.

The list can go on and on. And though we hope that we are different, animal cruelty has surfaced again right here in Franklin County. A gentle Beagle was shot in the back of the head, stuffed and tied into a garbage bag, and left to die in the trash. The list of people and agencies who participated in his rescue includes the man who discovered the trash bag moving, Animal Control officers, Winchester Officer Wrisner, Town and Country Veterinary Hospital, and Animal Harbor. This was a true concerted effort to give this dog another chance at a good life with a loving family.

These are the moments when our lighthouse symbol means the most. We shine the light of discovery and protection on ill, unwanted, abused, and abandoned animals. We treat their bodies with meds and their damaged spirits with affection. We try to find the best possible homes for them. And then, we do it all over again the next day.

If you want to stand against animal cruelty in any form, take action:

  • champion laws that protect animals and punish their abusers;
  • alert Animal Control or the police to cruelty that you see;
  • write to your government representatives to voice an opinion;
  • don't participate in activities that are harmful to animals;
  • purchase wisely;
  • join us at Animal Harbor to fight the good fight for Franklin County animals.

Be a Harbor Hero and Stand Against Animal Cruelty!


A few tips for keeping your pet safe and snazzy as Spring approaches.

Vaccinations and Wellness Checks:

  • Are your pets up-to-date on their vaccinations?
  • How long has it been since their last overall check-up?

Fleas and Ticks:

  • Check your pets regularly for fleas and ticks and use the appropriate preventative as directed.
  • A flea comb for cats is an inexpensive and sure fire way to spot fleas and flea dirt, while using your hands to detect ticks is best for dogs.

Mosquitoes and Heartworm:

  • Give your dog or cat the benefit of heartworm protection year round with a preventative medication.
  • Remember that these meds need to be given on the same date of each month.

Easter Celebrations:

  • Chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs, and real lilies can be fatal to cats.
  • Plastic grass can lead to serious digestive tract obstructions.
  • Resist the urge to buy chicks and bunnies which often need special care.

Open Windows and Second Floor Balconies:

  • Both are accidents waiting to happen for curious pets.

Dogs in Truck Beds:

  • You can lose a pet or have it thrown out of the vehicle during sudden braking.
  • Never leash or chain a dog in a truck bed as a jump over the side can lead to serious injury or strangulation.
  • Hot metal can cause paw pad burns, and leave no place for a dog to lie down.


  • Be careful with garden chemicals, fertilizers, and mulch.
  • Dogs who like to dig can unearth toxic bulbs such as hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, and some lilies.

Around Town

  • Let your dog make new friends and have fun in a safe fenced in area (such as the Winchester Dog Park when it opens).
  • Give your dog time to smell the surroundings when you are out walking. It's a dog's way of "window shopping." Think how glum you would be if you were always yanked away from every great new sale.

Enjoy the Spring, and Keep your Pets Safe and Healthy!