Taking Newborn Kittens To Your Local Shelter Should Be A Last Resort
Animal shelters are not equipped to provide the kind of around-the-clock care that kittens need. The best way to help most kittens is to leave them with their mother, and then when they are more than eight weeks old, contact your local shelter for spay/neuter resources.
If the kittens truly are orphaned they should find a safe home that can bottle-feed them and get appropriate veterinary care until they can find adoptable homes. The Kitten Lady has helpful information on how to care for orphaned kittens.
What You Should Do If You Find A Kitten
Twelve years ago, it seemed like the right thing to do. Janice Dankert found a litter of tiny kittens under her porch and her first response was to scoop them up.
I hadnt realized that free-roaming female catswho havent been spayed yetdo leave their kittens alone for a few hours every day, says Dankert, now a community cat expert for Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society.
But the vast majority of the time the mama returns in plenty of time to feed them. When I took these kittens into my home and started bottle-feeding them, I had no idea how much work, time, and emotion was ultimately involved. I also didnt know at that time that the best chance for survival for neonatal kittens that are born outside is to keep them with their mother. Fortunately, I was able to carry this through and these kittens made it.
But there was yet another problem: I also didnt realize that female cats go into heat again immediately if their kittens are pulled from them. Two months later, I had the same mother cat back under my porch with another litter of kittens. It was then I realized the enormity of this problem. Honestly, that is what led me to get actively involved in helping community cats, said Dankert who now heads up Best Friends Four Directions Community Cat Program in southern Utah.
Best Friends Animal Society offers the following tips on what to do if you find a litter of kittens outdoors:
If The Cat Looks Sick Or Injured Call Your City Hotline Or Animal Shelter And Create A Found Report
If the cat is seriously injured, your local animal control may come get it, but if you are able to take a sick or injured cat to the vet yourself, thats even better. Be sure to create the found report regardless. During this time, we need to reserve city shelter space for homeless animals coming from COVID-19 positive homes, so we need to resist bringing healthy community cats in. Send this picture to the animal shelter so they can include it with your found animal report.
Don’t Miss: Cat’s Pupils Different Sizes
How To Help A Feral Cat
While feral cats can generally fend for themselves, you can make life easier for them by providing cat food and water preferably in a location that can’t be easily accessed by your own pets or kids as well as shelter from the elements. The difficulty of helping feral cats is that they tend to multiply very quickly. These cats may carry diseases, too. The problems with feeding feral cats is that it promotes their ability to reproduce, which can lead to more cats living on the street, and because feral cats tend to roam together in groups, you could be inviting more cats to your home than you anticipated.
One option to help control the feral cat population in your neighborhood, reduce the risk of infectious diseases to your own pets, and potentially find homes for adoptable kittens is trap-neuter-return . There may be volunteering opportunities in your community to help with these efforts. TNR involves trapping feral cats and kittens, having them spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and either returning adult cats to their environment or finding homes or shelters to take in kittens.
Finding a lost cat can be quite a commitment if you decide to be a good Samaritan, but it’s often worth it for the peace of mind and overall good feeling that comes with helping an animal in need. Who knows? That stray cat on your doorstep just might end up becoming a cherished companion.
What To Do If You Find Stray Kittens
If you find a litter of kittens, first, watch and wait! A kittens best chance of thriving is with its mother.
Momma Cat may be off finding food for herself, or she may be in the process of actively moving her litter to another location. Try to determine if the mother is coming back for them or if they are truly orphaned. Stand far away from the kittens 35 feet or more. If you stand too close, the mom will not approach her kittens. You might need to go away completely before the mother cat returns to attend to the kittens. It could be several hours before the mother cat returns until she no longer senses the presence of humans hovering near her litter.
If you need to leave before the mother cat comes back, carefully evaluate whether the kittens are in immediate danger: Is it raining or snowing on the kittens? Are there wild animals that might harm the kittens in the neighborhood? Does the neighborhood have kids or adults who are likely to harm the kittens? Are the kittens located in an area with heavy foot or car traffic?
To help with your decision, it is important to know that it might take several hours for the mother cat to return, and healthy kittens can survive this period without food as long as they are warm. Neonatal kittens are just as much at risk of hypothermia as they are of starvation. During the spring and summer months, waiting a long time to see if mom will come back is much safer than during frigid winter months.
If the mother cat returns
Recommended Reading: Can Cats Eat Tuna Salad
Don’t Move The Cat Or Her Kittens Unless They’re At Risk
A mother cat and her kittens should only be moved if they are at risk or vulnerable. This is because disturbing a mother and kittens can lead to stress and/or aggression which can risk the health of the kittens. Kittens that are unweaned are dependent upon their mother for survival – inappropriate disturbance may cause the mother to abandon her kittens.
In the situation that you’re not prepared/able to look after the welfare of the cats and you’re adamant that you want them moving despite the advice above, you should contact your local animal centre or animal welfare organisation – they may be able to help with rehoming. Kittens can be rehomed when they are eight weeks old.
In the case that the stray cat rejects a kitten, please get in touch with us via our helpline on 0300 1234 999.
What Should I Do With A Sick Or Injured Stray/feral Cat
If you find an injured stray or feral cat and they’re approachable, please confine them and take them to a vet, if possible. If this is not possible, please get in contact with us on 0300 1234 999.
If taking a sick/injured stray cat to the vets and the cat just needs minimum care, you might be expected to take the cat away and fit a paper collar if needed.
Read Also: Name Of Lovecraft’s Cat
Know That An Abandoned Kitten Is Very Vulnerable
Not every kitten rescue has a happy ending. Since an abandoned kitten doesnt get the benefits of the antibodies in the mothers milk, shes more vulnerable to problems like infections, hypothermia and anemia.
Dont be hard on yourself if the kitten doesnt make it. Realize that you did your best and take comfort in the fact that the kitten knew safety and love while in your care.
Tell us: Have you ever found an abandoned kitten?
Editors note: This article appeared in Kittens, a special issue from Catster magazine. Look for Kittens on a newsstand near you!
How To Help A Lost Cat
Finding a lost cat on your doorstep can be a jarring experience. You no doubt want to help, but it’s not always clear what kind of help a strange cat needs. She most likely belongs to one of three categories. Either she has a home that she’s wandered away from, she’s been abandoned and is now a stray, or she’s a feral cat that has never been socialized to humans. It’s important to determine which category you’re dealing with before taking any action to help. If you’re in the position of helping a stray cat, keep reading to learn which actions you should take.
You May Like: How Much Should A 3 Month Old Kitten Eat
What To Do If Mom Cat Does Not Return
If you determine that mama is not returning or she was hit by a car, its now your time to be a kitten hero and rescue them. This is crucial to the kittens survival. Be prepared to see this project through to weaning and adoption if you decide to intervene. If you take the kittens in, it is unlikely that you will find an organization with available staff or volunteers to take on bottle-feeding on short notice. Some organizations do have experienced bottle-feeders, but prior logistical planning is necessary. Animal shelters and veterinarians generally do not take in newborn kittens or will choose euthanasia, since they do not have the staff to feed and stimulate them for elimination around-the-clock. But dont worry, The Little Lion Foundation is happy to help you every step of the way. We can also teach you the proper technique should your kittens need to be bottle fed in the first weeks and can be a point on contact for any advice you may need to ensure success!
But if youre willing to chip in and foster the kittens yourself, we would be willing to work with you on making sure your kittens have the right medical care, food, and support. And once they are old enough to be placed for adoption, well get them posted on our adoption listings and find them their homes! If you find kittens and are interested in fostering them under The Little Lion Foundation, learn more about fostering here!
How Can I Help Mother Cat And Kittens While They Are Outdoors
You cant do a mother cats job, but you can make her more comfortable as she cares for her kittens outdoors. Provide her with essentials like:
- Regular food and water. A nursing mother cat can always use some extra wet food so she can keep providing necessary nutrients to her kittens. Find details to care for community cats, including mother cats, at alleycat.org/BestPractices.
- An outdoor shelter. Mother cats like to raise their kittens in nests, where they feel hidden and protected. An outdoor shelter is a perfect safe space. You can purchase one or build one yourself. We have options at alleycat.org/ShelterGallery.
- Peace and quiet. Keep an eye on mother and kittens, but dont approach or let dogs or other cats come near. Doing so will cause her stress.
Don’t Miss: Hp Lovecrafts Cat
Don’t Turn A Blind Eye
If you’ve stepped in, don’t turn away. “You have now become part of this rescue as a result of stumbling upon the situation,” Brown said. “If you turn a blind eye you cause more of a problem. If you can’t do something, alert somebody.
“Keep them safe until you can find a solution,” Brown said. “Just make some phone calls.”
If you find cats you suspect are in a feral community, Alley Cat Allies has resources to help. Click here to watch webinars on kitten care. From information on bottle-feeding and general care, click here.
How To React If You Find A Lost Kitten Or Cat
This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years. This article has been viewed 59,216 times.
Have you ever seen a cat or small kitten running down the sidewalk all alone? A defenseless little animal that is lost or alone stirs up feelings of empathy and compassion, and you may find yourself wanting to help. By exercising care in capturing the animal, gathering all the appropriate information, and taking the right steps to get in touch with the owner, you can be immensely helpful in rescuing a lost kitten or cat.
Recommended Reading: Cat’s Pupils Always Dilated
Do The Kittens Look Healthy
Healthy kittens have clean fur and big bellies. Sickly kittens will be thin, dirty and possibly have crusty eyes or nasal discharge. If the kittens look healthy and there is no known threat where they are, leave them there. I know its hard because we are so used to intervening, but think of them during this time like you would a nest of baby birds. Mom is probably coming right back even if theyre alone for a moment.
I’ve Got/found A Cat In Labour What Should I Do
If you’ve found a pregnant cat who you think is in labour, please give her plenty of space to avoid disturbing her. The best way to help is to try and locate the cat’s owner. Please post on local social media groups or speak to neighbours to see if anybody knows her.
You can also help by placing a shallow bowl of water nearby for her to use – this really needs to be done with minimal disturbance though so still keep a good distance. Also, depending upon the weather, placing some shelter nearby could help keep her shaded from the sun and sheltered from cold winds.
Please do keep an eye on mum to check she’s doing ok. If you can’t find the owner please call a local animal rescue centre for advice on what to do when the kittens arrive. It’s always best to avoid disturbing the mum which could cause unnecessary problems for the kittens. Many cats give birth without needing any help at all but signs she may be having difficulty include:
- If between 30 and 60 minutes of intense straining she doesn’t produce a kitten or a kitten seems to be stuck.
- The mother seems to be noticeably distressed.
- If she seems lethargic or has passed an unpleasant discharge or is bleeding heavily from her vulva.
- Although green/brown/red discharge, while the kittens are being born, is normal.
If you see any of these signs or if mum is at risk because she is near a busy road or building then please call a local vet, animal rescue or call our advice line but never put yourself in danger.
Read Also: Hawk Kills Cat
Unable To Care For The Kittens Yourself
DoNOT take the kittensto an animal shelter. See if a friend or family member can care for them, or contact local rescues, animal protection groups, or advocates. You may be able to find such advocates near you through Alley Cat Allies Feral Friends Network®. Find a member in your area at alleycat.org/FindFeralFriends.
What To Do If Mom Cat Returns
If mama returns and the area is relatively safe, leave the kittens alone with momma until they are about 6 weeks old and are eating well on their own. You can offer a shelter and regular food to momma to keep her in this location so that you rescue them all when they are older. Keep the food and shelter at a distance from each other. Momma will find the food but will not accept your shelter if the food is nearby, because she will not want to attract other cats to food located near her nest.
Six weeks is the optimal age to take the kittens from a feral momma cat for socialization and to prepare them for adoption when they are over 8 weeks old and 2 lbs in weight. Female cats can become pregnant with a new litter even while they are still nursing, so its a good idea to trap mama at the same time you take the kittens. Otherwise, she may split and have more babies right away that youll have to rescue. Contact your local low cost spay and neuter clinics or TNR group in your area to help stop this cycle of homeless kittens!
Recommended Reading: Remove Cat Urine Smell From Hardwood Floors
Why Cant I Bring The Kittens And Their Mother Indoors
Even if your home is very nice, a mother cat may become so stressed by being confined in the new environment that it impacts her health and her ability to care for her kittens. Community cats thrive in their outdoor home and the mother cat has likely chosen an ideal space to raise her kittens, so there is no need to intervene.
Heres What To Do If You Find A Litter Of Kittens
You’re likely to hear them before you see them.
They’re alone and afraid. No mom in sight.
The sound of kittens meowing.
With springtime just around the corner comes the warmer weather, the flowers, the showers – and, unfortunately, litters of unwanted kittens.
It’s the time of year when unspayed cats give birth. Rescue groups and shelters nationwide become overrun with litters of unwanted kittens who are often euthanized due to lack of space and not nearly enough people to foster and adopt them.
“We are embarking on kitten season,” Eric Brown, cofounder and vice president of Arizona’s Homeless Animals Rescue Team , told The Dodo. “The biological clocks of cats have realized that it has started warming up, and cats are now in heat or already pregnant. There is a 64-day gestation period. And we are almost there. There will be throngs of kittens any day.”
So what should you do if you find a litter of kittens? For starters, it depends on how and where you found them, whether their mother is around, and how old they are.
Approximately 3.4 million cats enter shelters nationwide every year and 1.4 million cats are euthanized yearly.
Recommended Reading: Lovecrafts Cats