How You Can Help to Save Kittens from Being Killed in Shelters by Being a Kitten Caregiver

From Alley Cat Allies

Through the innovative Wait Until 8 program, Alley Cat Allies is helping shelters and communities work together to save orphaned kittens from being killed. The program empowers people to become at-home kitten caregivers for neonatal kittens until they reach eight weeks of age and are available for adoption.

“Every year, well-meaning people find thousands of kittens outdoors and bring them to shelters because they want to help, not knowing that most shelters lack the programs to save their lives,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “The heartbreaking truth is most kittens brought into shelters are killed. By providing basic resources and know-how, shelters can harness that compassion to save kittens’ lives.”

Through Alley Cat Allies’ Wait Until 8 program, neonatal kittens stay out of animal shelters and are given a fighting chance at survival.  Kittens in the program go on to be adopted by families once they no longer need intensive attention.  This program is especially critical now, during the height of kitten season.

Through the program, community members receive materials and information needed to save kittens’ lives, including a Kitten Care Kit (pictured below). The shelter gives every caregiver individualized instructions on how to care for the kittens.  The caregivers keep the neonatal kittens in their homes until they are eight weeks old, or weigh two pounds. At that point, the kittens come back to the shelter for a veterinary checkup, to be spayed or neutered, and to receive vaccinations. The kittens then are either adopted by the caregivers or enter the shelter’s adoption program to find their forever homes.  

Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Florida launched its Wait Until 8 program in the spring of 2015 with sponsorship from Alley Cat Allies.

“Five years ago, before implementing our Wait Until 8 program, we had over 3,200 kitten euthanasias,” said Scott Trebatoski, director of Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center. “Last year, after we increased our focus on sterilization through Trap-Neuter-Return and the Wait Until 8 program was in full swing, we cut that number by nearly 80 percent. The main reason is that our citizens are helping to care for kittens they find, which allows our foster care volunteers to care for those we find in the field.”

Any community can implement the Wait Until 8 program. For more information on Wait Until 8 and how to start saving the lives of kittens in your community, visit


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