Found Kittens? Don’t Kit-nap Them!
Kittens under 6 weeks old are not able to care for themselves and require around-the-clock care from their mom in order to survive. If you find kittens, follow the tips below to determine whether they need you to intervene (Pro Tip: They probably don’t!):
Do you immediately see mom?
If so, you do not need to intervene at this time unless they seem sick or injured. Once the kittens are 6-8 weeks old, they can be spayed/neutered, along with mom. In the meantime, feel free to provide mom food and water in an accessible area that is not too close to the nest so you don’t attract predators.
No mom in sight?
Do the kittens seem healthy and happy?
If the kittens look clean and chunky, mom is nearby and has been caring for them. If the kittens are in a dangerous location, you can move them to a safe area nearby where mom can still find them once she returns. Observe them from a distance for 6 to 8 hours to ensure mom has returned and is able to continue caring for them. Mom is less likely to return if she feels threatened, so don’t hover too closely or you may be keeping her away. It can be a good idea to place a ring of flour around the nest so you can see if mom has gone in and out without you seeing her. Even if you don’t see mom, if the kittens continue looking healthy and happy after the observation period, you can be assured she is caring for them and they do not need you to take them away.
Did mom return?
Great! If mom is around and seems to be caring for the kittens well, you can keep monitoring the entire family as the kittens grow so they can all be spayed/neutered once the kittens are 6-8 weeks old.
How old are the kittens?
Use this free guide to determine the age of the kittens.
Not eating on their own?
Although neonatal kittens require specialized care to survive, if you are willing and able to care for the kittens you found, we can help you with the knowledge and supplies you need until they are old enough to be prepared for adoption.
Eating on their own?
Socialization with humans is important for kittens 4-8 weeks old. We can help you with the knowledge and supplies you need until they are old enough to be prepared for adoption.
A kitten’s best chance of survival is with their mom and out of the shelter. Separating kittens from a mom or bringing the family (or orphaned kittens) to the shelter should always be a last resort unless they are sick or injured.