It’s that time of year again – kitten season! During the height of breeding season it’s not unusual to find a litter of stray kittens. If you do, these important tips will help you make the best decision about their care.
WAIT AND WATCH
If you find a kitten or litter of kittens who appear to be abandoned, take a deep breath and wait before scooping them up. Momma cat may be off in search of food, or in the process of moving her litter to safer digs. It’s important to determine if mom is coming back or if the kittens are truly abandoned. The kittens have a much better chance of survival when kept with their mother until weaned.
Make careful note of the kittens’ location and then give mom enough room and time to come back. Retreat to another location at least 35-40 feet away. If the kittens are in a safe location, you might leave the area completely for a couple of hours and then return.
Assess the area to evaluate whether the kittens are in danger. Are there dogs or other predators in the area? Are they exposed to rain or extreme cold? Are they near a heavily trafficked area? It may take the mother cat several hours to return and healthy kittens can survive this period without food as long as they are warm.
IF MOM RETURNS
If the mother cat returns and she is friendly, take the mom cat and her kittens inside and offer them protection. If the mom is feral and the family is located in a safe and protected area it’s best to allow the kittens to stay with mom until they are weaned. You may be able to help by providing shelter and food for the mom, however, keep these a good distance from each other. Placing food near the kittens and/or the shelter will attract other cats and predators to the area.
At six weeks the kittens should be taken from the mother for socialization, vaccinations and, soon, their spay/neuter surgery. In addition, you’ll want to capture the mother cat so that she can be sterilized and prevent future unwanted litters.
IF MOM DOES NOT RETURN
If the kittens have been orphaned, you can help provide life-saving care for them by bringing them to The Sonoma Humane Society. If you’re interested in becoming a kitten foster parent, you can fill out a Foster Parent Questionnaire and attend one of our orientations. Check our event calendar for upcoming orientation dates!
WHO TO CONTACT
The Sonoma Humane Society can assist you with care instructions if you’ve rescued orphaned kittens. Please contact our Foster Care Department at 707-577-1919.