You've Found a Kitten. Now What?
If you stumble upon a kitten or even a whole litter, is it up to us to save them? Best Friends Animal Society offers some advice on what to do if you come across abandoned kittens.
They’re adorable, furry little kittens in need of help, or are they? If you find a litter of tiny kittens outdoors, make sure to follow these steps from Best Friends to care for them properly and avoid any unintentional disruption.
Is Mom Around?
The younger the kittens, the more important it is to identify if their mother is around before any intervention happens, as kittens require around-the-clock care. Leave the kittens alone and try to figure out if their mother is nearby. Observe them from a distance every couple of hours for 12 to 18 hours. If the kittens seem content and are not fussing, there’s a good chance their mom is coming back.
If the kittens are in danger due to their location, move them to a safer spot nearby so their mother can easily find them when she returns.
If the kittens are dirty, meowing or appear sick, underweight or dehydrated, contact a local rescue organization, a trap-neuter-return (TNR), or community cat program. They can help you determine if the kittens are at risk and if you should intervene.
If you spot the mother, leave the kittens alone. When the kittens have been eating on their own for about four weeks or are big enough for surgery (typically when they’re between two and three months old), humanely trap the whole family and have them spayed or neutered. A local TNR program may be able to help you with the trapping process. After the cats are fixed, release them at the location where you found them. TNR is the most humane method of preventing cats and kittens from entering the shelter system.
To learn more about how to take care of kittens, particularly abandoned ones, check out these tips for bottle-feeding.