New California law makes it easier to adopt kittens

Kyung Mi Lee, Sacramento Bee


California’s stray kittens can be adopted more easily, thanks to a new law signed by the governor on Wednesday.

The law will allow people to adopt kittens under 8 weeks old at animal shelters, waiving a mandatory six-day waiting period that California had required for stray cats since 1998.

Advocates for stray cats worried that the holding period slowed the adoption process and decreased kittens’ chances of finding a home. Animals directly surrendered by their owners are eligible for immediate adoption or transfers for placement.

“Kittens need extra and attention and care. Finding them forever homes as quickly as possible should not be hindered by law,” said Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, who wrote Assembly Bill 1565.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, kittens are more vulnerable than other shelter animals to contagious diseases. Due to their weak immune systems, they “can easily contract an upper respiratory tract infection, panleukopenia, ringworm, or calicivirus” while they are in holding.

A sick kitten requires more resources to care for, becoming a likely pick for euthanization in overburdened shelters.

The law “to make kittens immediately available recognizes the village it often takes to provide the life-saving care that such young animals need,” the San Diego Humane Society and the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wrote in .

Approximately 3.2 million cats are sheltered every year in America, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 860,000 of those cats are euthanized.

“Kittens are one of the most vulnerable populations of animals in a shelter,” said Susan Riggs, senior director of government relations for the society’s Western region. “Allowing them to be quickly placed into a home, where their needs can be better met, will increase the chance of a positive outcome.”

The bill does not change current requirements for animals to be spayed or neutered upon adoption or return to its owner. The Sacramento SPCA provides free Spay/Neuter Clinics for feral or free-roaming cats every Sunday.

A list of animal shelters in Sacramento County can be found on the county website.