Mama Does Not Return To The Nest
If the mother doesnt return to the nest, or you find the kittens in poor health or danger, you may choose to remove the kittens. Here are some great resources if you decide to care for the kittens yourself:
If you cannot care for them or find a home for them, and you live within the city of Fresno limits, you may bring them to the CCSPCA Stray Animal Building, open 7 days a week from 8am to 5pm for drop off. Make sure they are confined in an enclosure if they are friendly. If they are aggressive/feral, we recommend humanely trapping them with a cat trap that can be purchased at a hardware store.
If you have them confined but cannot bring them to our animal shelter, please call our animal control services at 233-7722 Monday-Friday between 8:00am-3:00pm, and we will make arrangements to pick them up. Please know that we are unable to accept any stray animals from other cities or counties, including Fresno County.
Feeding Schedule For Kittens By Weight And Age
Determining the age of the stray kitten right away is imperative. His age will mandate what hell eat as well as how much and how often.
Using a postal scale, heres a quick guide:
- Under 1 week old: kitten weighs less than 4 ounces. Feed formula: every two to three hours.
- 7 to10 days old: kitten weighs 4 to 6 ounces. Feed formula: every two to three hours.
- 10 to14 days old: kitten weighs 6 to 8 ounces. Feed formula: every three hours.
- 14 to21 days old: kitten weighs 8 to 12 ounces. Feed formula: every four hours.
- 4 to5 weeks old: kitten weighs 12 ounces to 1 pound. Feed mix of gruel/formula/kitten kibble: every four hours.
- 6 to7 weeks old: kitten weighs 1 pound to 1 pound and 8 ounces. Feed mix of kitten kibble and wet food four times a day.
- 8 weeks old: kitten weighs one and a half to 2 pounds. Fully weaned.
Find A Home For The Stray Kitten
At 8 weeks old, the kitten is ready to be spayed or neutered and placed into a loving home. There are many ways to find the stray kitten a home check out bestfriends.org for a guide of best practices. Unless, of course, he or she is already home. Kittens are, after all, irresistible!
Thumbnail: Photography ©ConstantinCornel | Thinkstock.
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Caring For Unsocial Mom Cats With Litters
The first option, if the unsocial mom and litter are in a relatively safe location, is to offer outdoor shelter, water, and regular feedings until kittens are about 6-weeks. At 6-weeks its safer to remove from mom. Or, if mom has become more social with you, consider bringing the whole family inside! Urban Cat League – guide for socializing outdoor/feral kittens
- Tiny Kittens Rescue – Compassionate Foster Care for Feral Moms. Small rooms with plenty of easily-accessible hiding options generally work better for cats that become reactive when they are scared or anxious .
- Feral Cat Focus – Feral Cat Set-up for Long-term Fosters. Cage confinement generally works best for fearful cats that want to hide, as the smaller space gives them a sense of security. Always remember to give them a hiding space that is big enough for mom and litter to comfortably nest. Cages should be at least 42L x 28W x 30H inches. 48L x 30W x 33H inches is ideal.
If you need further assistance, contact the shelter at 988-7387
Observe From A Distance & Wait For Mom
Unless the kittens are in immediate danger, you should stay back and watch for the mama cat to return. Its possible that she left to look for food or a safer place to live and intends to return soon.
Some recommend standing at least 35 feet back from the kittens. You may have to wait for several hours before mom senses that there are no humans nearby and comes home.
If the kittens are clean and not crying, chances are good that mom is close. If they are dirty and crying, then the mother may have abandoned them or be unable to return. Either way, a shelter or rescue group can provide you with advice.
As tempting as it may be to intervene, be patient. As long as the kittens are warm and away from imminent threats like predators, extreme weather, and traffic, they will be fine until their mother gets back to feed them.
Mom should return within three to four hours at the latest, so long as she doesnt sense threats.
Keep reading below if mom doesnt come back.
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What To Do If The Stray Kitten Does Not Have A Mother
If you have determined the stray kitten does not have a mother, his greatest chance for survival begins with you. The first thing youll need to do is capture the stray kitten. For some kittens, this is as easy as reaching out and scooping them up. For others, you may need to contact a local animal society or shelter to obtain the humane traps often used in TNR. Simply place the trap out with some food inside, and wait nearby. The kitten should wander in and trigger the trap to close its door. Kittens do not get hurt in the process!
Next, get the stray kitten to a veterinarian for a checkup ASAP. If the vets office is closed, youll have to start his care right away. Even if you cant foster a stray kitten long term, youll be a lifeline during this first phase of rescue.
Containing and monitoring the formerly stray kitten is key to his health and well-being. A dog crate is perfect. To keep him toasty, place a covered heating pad in his crate and keep the room temperature at 75 degrees. The heating pad should cover only half the crate so he can get away from it. Watch for panting you dont want him to get overheated either. A cold or limp kitten indicates a medical emergency.
For Kittens Six Weeks To Twelve Weeks Old
Kittens 6-12 weeks old are at the ideal age to be socialized and adopted. You can bring them in a carrier with a towel or blanket to MCAS.
You can also bring kittens to our partners in the community:
Bringing the kittens to a shelter will ensure that they are spayed and neutered, and can find caring homes, and wont contribute to community cat breeding and overpopulation.
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Where To Get Help
Do not take neonates to an animal shelter unless you know they have the facilities to care for neonatal kittens . Most animal shelters and veterinarians are not able to help neonatal kittens due to the level of care they need. This means you have two choices hand raise the kittens yourself or find a rescue organisation or foster carer who can take the kittens.
How to find a rescue organisation:
Contact your local veterinarian or animal shelter who may know of local rescue organisations. There should also be local cat rescue groups on Facebook who will be able to step in or offer their knowledge and expertise if you decide to care for the kittens.
Become A Foster Parent
HSU receives kittens with and without their mom nearly every day during Kitten Season. We are usually in need of dependable foster care volunteers willing to open up their homes to help with precious litters of bottle-feeding orphans and other kittens who still have their mom. Are you willing to bottle feed, wean, socialize and provide medical care to ensure each kitten can find a home of his or her own? If you said yes, then you can become a life-saver.
We hope this article helps you know what to do when you find kittens. If you have any questions, contact your local municipal animal control shelter.
PDF flow chart from Ally Cat Allies
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Mama Returns And You Can Provide Assistance
If the mother does return and you want to provide assistance, you may give them food. Ensure that you dont get too close and scare her off. If you provide food, remember that it may be sought by other cats, raccoons, rats, or other predators that live in your area. Show her where the food will be, but do not leave it too close to the nest. If a predator finds the food, you dont want them finding the nest as well.
Its important that the kittens remain with their mother for at least four weeks, preferably six, so that they are weaned or close to weaning. At that point, the mother may be more amenable to allowing you to help her. This could come in the form of offering shelter or a home, or removing the kittens and finding them a home.
Will A Mother Cat Abandon Her Kittens If You Touch Them
Typically, no cats do not abandoned their babies if humans touch them so that should not be a huge concern.
If the kittens are in an area that may be very risky for them, it is OK to move them without worrying about the mom rejecting them.Mom might not like it and move them again, but you will be helping them if their spot is not a safe one from predators or elements.Some reasons a cat might actually abandon one or all of her kittens are:
- Sick or deformed kittens may be rejected to help protect the rest of the litter. If you do see a kitten in the litter that is sick it is recommended to remove it so the mom does not reject the whole litter.
- Mastitis is a painful infection that happens in the milk ducts and can keep a mom cat from wanting to feed since the pain is too much. While not true rejection, without feeding her babies they will not survive.
- If momma cat is still a kitten herself, she may not know how to care for them and just abandon them or she just may need a few days to get it all figured out.
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Investigate Does The Stray Kitten Have A Mother
Helping orphaned kittens will first require some detective work. One of the biggest mistakes people make when finding stray kittens is taking them away from their mother. Neonatal kittens are still nursing and need to be fed frequently, so they should be kept with their mother, if possible.
Heres how to assess the situation:
What If There Does Not Seem To Be A Mom
If you have done your due diligence and kept an eye out for the mom and she does not make an appearance or if the kittens seem to be weak, dirty and underweight, it is time to take action.
If keeping an eye out is not feasible or you do not have a camera to check, another great way is to dust some sawdust, flour or sugar around the kittens and keep an eye out for cat prints.
Now that you have verified mom has not been around you can do the following.
If you are up for it you can begin caring for the kittens in your home.
Bring them inside wash them up and find a cozy place to stay.
Make sure you use an area with lots of paper and bedding as kittens will pee and poop A LOT!
Feeding requires the bottle-feeding of special kitten formula every few hours since up until about 6-8 weeks they cannot eat solid food.
You can contact a local cat rescue or your veterinarian for more information about fostering kittens and they may help you.
Once they are about 6-8 weeks you can contact rescues about helping you to find them homes.
If you do not have time to feed them every few hours, then you will need to contact a rescue to see if they have a bottle-feeder foster family that can take them.
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I Found Kittens Outside What Do I Do
Did you know kittens are one of the most vulnerable populations in animal shelters and that many end up there because of well-meaning animal lovers?
The ASPCA wants to assist you in identifying the best approach for helping kittens in your community. Removing kittens from their current environment may not always be the right answer as the mom cat could be nearby getting food and no one can care for a kitten like their mom can! To help choose the right path for kittens you found, please answer the following questions.
Do the kittens appear ill or injured?
If You’ve Found A Stray Cat With Kittens
If a stray cat has just had kittens, it may be best to leave them for a few days. If anyone tries to move them, the mother may reject or even kill the kittens. After a few days, she’ll move them anyway once she realises you know where they are.
If mum and kittens appear to be healthy and are in a safe area, it’s best to leave them alone – don’t move them unless they’re at risk. You can follow our advice above to try to find the cat’s owner. If you can’t find them and you think mum is a stray, call your local animal rescue for advice. They may talk to you about giving a helping hand by providing food, water and outside shelter to help protect mum and kittens from extreme weather.
If mum and/or the kittens seem to be sick or injured, phoning a local vet for advice is the best and quickest way to help. It’s important that mum and kittens stay together. If you need to transport them and aren’t able to do so safely, or if the stray cat rejects a kitten, please call your local rescue charity or our advice line on 0300 1234 999. Never put yourself in danger.
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Keep Your Mittens Off Those Kittens
Each Spring, local animals shelters are filled to capacity with litters of kittens who have been brought to the shelter because the person who found them did not see the mother cat and believed the kittens were in need of being rescued. It is in our nature to want to help and protect these small and defenseless animals and without their mother, the thought that these kittens are in danger compels many people to scoop them up and bring the kittens to their local animal shelter.
In fact, most of time, these kittens DO NOT need rescuing. The mother cat is often nearby and will return to her kittens. She is the best chance her kittens have for success. Taking in kittens who do not need rescuing places additional burdens on the services and care that animal shelters can provide.
Instead of interfering or handling the kittens, leave them undisturbed. Observe them from a safe distance and if the mother cat has not returned to care for the kittens after an absence of a few hours, then please consider picking them up. While observing the kittens, please make sure they are safe and protected from the elements and other animals.
If The Kittens Look Sick Warm Them And Bring Them To Ahs
If the kittens look gaunt or sick, theres a good chance theyve been abandoned. In this case, ensure the kittens are dry and warm, and then bring them to AHS where they’ll receive the lifesaving care they need.
Kittens under four weeks old aren’t yet able to regulate their body temperature, so it’s important to warm them up if they’re chilled, though you’ll want to do so gradually. You can start by holding the kittens to your body for warmth, and then transition them to a warm towel or blanket. Before bringing them to AHS, you’ll need to schedule a surrender appointment with the Pet Helpline.
You may discover that a kitten seems unresponsive. You can try rubbing some Karo syrup or sugar water on their gums to raise blood sugar and revive them.
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How To Take Care Of A Homeless Kitten
Its only when you have waited several hours and are certain mom isnt coming back that you can remove the kittens. But thats not to be taken lightly.
If you arent prepared to foster the kittens yourself, there are limited options for taking care of the kittens. At Pet Alliance, we provide our foster parents with Kitten Kits to help take care of them until they are eight weeks of age in their homes. When they get to over eight weeks and are two pounds, we will spay the kittens and put them up for adoption at the shelter. If you have questions about kitten season, or have found a kitten you are willing to foster, please call 351-7722.