They’re cute, cuddly and desperately in need of your help. Or are they?
If you happen upon a litter of small kittens outdoors, it’s natural to want to scoop them up and take them to a shelter. However, it is important to know that this is almost never in a kitten’s best interest.
Do the kittens look sick or injured? If yes, contact us or take them to a veterinarian. If the kittens do not appear to be sick or injured, leave them be.
Do not assume that kittens are abandoned or orphaned just because you do not see their mother. A mother cat will temporarily leave her kittens for good reasons, like looking for food. She may even be hiding and waiting for YOU to leave. If the kittens are in danger due to their location, move them to a safer spot nearby so the mom can easily find them when she returns.
Mother knows best. You cannot replace a mother cat’s instinctive care. Neonatal kittens (kittens 4 weeks old and younger) need round-the-clock care to survive—which is challenging for humans to provide. These kittens are unweaned, meaning they still rely on their mother’s milk. A mother cat who lives outdoors knows how to protect her kittens and doesn’t need our intervention. Give her a few basic essentials (shelter, food and water) and then let her do her job. When the kittens are 6-8 weeks old, mother and babies can be scheduled for spay/neuter surgery.
Wait and Watch: Even if you don’t see the mother cat for a long time, check on the kittens periodically. If they are cuddled together and sleeping quietly, look pink, warm, and clean, and have full bellies, then their mother has very likely been back. You just didn’t notice. Community cats are good at staying out of sight!
If you have waited for hours and the mother never returns, you will have to intervene and provide care. If you can foster the kittens until they are old enough for spay/neuter surgery, a rescue organization can provide the guidance and resources you need and place the kittens for adoption into happy, forever homes.
Whether you choose to foster or want to place the kittens in one of our foster homes, contact our Foster and Intake Manager by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more and see how to age kittens with this infographic from Best Friends Animal Society.