Feral Mom Returns Do Not Fear
Leave the family outside, and provide food, water, and shelter. The mother will likely move the kittens, do not worry. If she knows this is a safe place with a stable food source, shell return with them. If you are able to commit, the kittens should be taken away from their mom when theyre able to eat on their own . When you bring them inside, handle them often to get them used to human socialization. The kittens should be fixed and adopted out around 8-10 weeks of age. If you cannot foster and socialize the kittens, leave the kittens outside! Dont socialize a kitten that you cannot place they will learn survival skills from their mother that will give them their best chance at outdoor survival as a feral cat.
Theyre Cute Cuddly And Desperately In Need Of Your Help Or Are They
During kitten season, it is not uncommon for one to find a litter of kittens outdoors. One might think they are abandoned but sometimes the mother cat can be right around the corner. Its natural to want to scoop them up and try to care for them yourself or take them to a shelter. Both of those options may place them in more danger. To give newborn kittens the best chance of survival, follow these steps:
See below for additional helpful links:
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
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Helping Abandoned Stray Cats And Kittens
The following is an excerpt from the Petfinder Blog.
Almost every summer, Carol goes out on the porch of her remote rural home and discovers an unfamiliar feline face. Another cat or kitten has been thoughtlessly abandoned during the night.
Carol is a senior citizen, and all of her own cats are fixed. Her income is fixed as well, and she has no money for vet visits for new cats.
Yet the abandonment continues.
I volunteer with a feral-cat trap/neuter/return group in addition to my job with Petfinder. We helped neuter Carols outdoor cats in 2002 , so luckily we are there to help when new cats appear in her life. When my phone rang this Sunday, the news was particularly bad: Two female cats and three tiny kittens had been left at Carols door.
Abandonment of domestic animals is illegal. In New York State it is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or a year in prison. However, its hard to catch someone who merely slows down and tosses a cat alongside a country road or leaves a box of kittens at a campground.
If you wander outside one day with your morning coffee and are greeted by the forlorn mews of an abandoned cat or kittens, you might be tempted to hope they will just go away. However, ignoring them will only make the situation worse. A dumped pregnant cat may shortly have kittens beneath your porch. Healthy kittens, abandoned without their mother, will soon starve or become ill or injured.
Supplies You Will Need For Newborns And Young Kittens:
- Kitten formula such as Just Born or KMR . The liquid formula is best to use if you are not sure what to do.
- Feeding bottles and several nipples .
- Eye dropper or syringe in case the kitten will not eat from the bottle.
- Several bath towels for bedding and cleaning kittens.
- Kitchen food scale for weighing kittens .
- Digital rectal thermometer
- Have Emergency Veterinarian or Veterinary Clinic number on-hand.
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What If Mom Never Comes Back
Sometimes the mother cat will not return to her kittens, or you may find out that she died and wont be coming back. In those cases, youll need to take action right away.
First, . They can make sure youre taking all the necessary steps to give the kittens their best chance of survival.
Your first concern should be keeping the kittens warm. Kittens are more at risk from hypothermia at a young age than they are from starvation.
Once youre sure the kittens have warmed up, youll need to start bottle feeding them every two to three hours if theyre under four weeks of age or not eating solid food.
Do not give them cows milk. Youll need to purchase a kitten milk replacement. Follow the instructions on the label closely.
Kittens cant go potty on their own when theyre very young. Youll need to rub under their tails with a warm washcloth. This is the only way they can urinate and defecate at that age.
Again, call a veterinarian for further advice.
Try To Verify The Age Of The Kittens
This is important because you dont want to take a nursing kitten away from their mom or leave a kitten with their feral mom too long if you want to socialize them.
- Under one week: Eyes shut, ears flat to head, skin looks pinkish. Part of umbilical cord may still be attached.
- 1 week-10 days: Eyes beginning to open, ears still flat. A kitten this age is smaller than your hand.
- 3 weeks: Eyes are fully open, ears are erect, and teeth are visible. Kittens this age are just starting to walk and will be very wobbly.
- 4-5 weeks: Eyes have changed from blue to another color and/or kittens have begun to pounce, leap, and are more mobile. Kittens this age will begin to eat gruel or canned food.
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Do Not Disturb The Kittens
It is best to 1st observe from a distance for a few hours to determine if mom is returning to her nest. The mother cat may be out searching for food, taking a break, or even hiding from you. If you see kittens and no mom, wait a few hours before trying to rescue them. The kittens have a better chance of survival with their mom. If mom returns, the best thing you can do is place some fresh cat food and water out for her. It is best not to continue to check on them more than once a day as not to disturb the nest.
If The Cat Is Pregnant
Unless she appears to be sick or injured, there’s usually little to worry about. She’ll probably have a home and owner nearby, or she may be a healthy stray. We understand you may be worried about the cat and want us to help, but it’s highly unlikely we would be able to collect a healthy pregnant mum.
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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.
If The Cat Is In Labour
If you’ve found a pregnant cat who you think is in labour:
- Give her space – avoid disturbing her.
- Try to locate her owner – post on local social media groups or speak to neighbours to see if anybody knows her. If you can’t find the owner, please call a local animal rescue centre for advice on what to do when the kittens arrive.
- Placing a shallow bowl of water nearby – this should be done with minimal disturbance, keep a good distance.
- Place some shelter nearby – depending upon the weather, placing some shelter nearby could help keep her shaded from the sun and sheltered from cold winds and rain.
- Keep an eye on her to check she’s doing ok, but avoid disturbing her as it 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, has passed an unpleasant discharge or is bleeding heavily from her vulva .
If you see any of these signs or if mum is at risk because she’s near a busy road or building, please call a local vet, animal rescue centre or call our advice line. Never put yourself in danger.
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If You’ve Found Abandoned Orphaned Or Lone Kittens
If you find kittens on their own, please keep a good distance to avoid disturbing them and possibly scaring mum into not returning. It’s not unusual for mum to leave her kittens when she goes off to find food. Kittens have a much better chance if they stay with their mum, so it’s very important to give enough time to see if mum returns before assuming they’re orphaned.
If the kittens appear to be in danger because they’re wet, cold or sick, please call a local vet, animal rescue charity or our advice line as soon as possible. If the kittens are very young – with eyes that are still closed and little mobility – you should monitor them for around two hours before phoning a vet or your local rescue charity.
Older kittens can usually go a little longer without food, so for those who have their eyes open and can walk, you should monitor for mum’s return for around four hours before calling for advice. It’s best to leave the kittens where they are unless a vet, local rescue charity or our advice line suggest otherwise.
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.
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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?
Determine If The Kittens Are Mobile 4+ Weeks In Age
Figuring out the age of the kittens determines if they should be kept with or separated from the mom, as well as if they are too old to be brought into a foster program. If kittens have had little or no human contact and socialization through 12 weeks of age, they will learn from their queens to avoid humans and may be better served through resources outside of a shelter environment. Cats can live healthy lives outdoors. Non-socialized juvenile cats should go through TNR program, facilitated by SF SPCAs CCP, so they can live a healthy life outdoors without the ability to reproduce. If you are ever unsure of age or next steps, please contact our Animal Control Dispatch at 415.554.9400 for assistance.
Use this guide to determine the age of the kittens:
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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.
First Of All If The Mother Cat Returns
If Mama Cat returns and the area is relatively safe, leave the kittens with Mama Cat until they are weaned. You can monitor the environment and offer a shelter and regular food to Mama Cat but keep the food and shelter at a distance from each other. Mom will find the food but will not accept your shelter if the food is nearby, because she will not want to attract other cats or predators to food located near her nest.
Mama Cat offers her kittens the absolute best chance for survival. Never remove healthy kittens from Mama Cat before they are 4 weeks old. 5-6 weeks is the optimal age to take the kittens from a feral Mama Cat for socialization and adoption placement, and any time after 8 weeks for Trap-Neuter-Return . For kittens of friendly cats, they should remain with Mama Cat until at least 8-10 weeks old.
Female cats can become pregnant with a new litter even while they are still nursing, so dont forget to get the mother cat spayed or you will have more kittens soon! For information or advice about trapping Mama Cats and about local feral cat help and TNR programs, see here.
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Mama Returns And You Can Leave It To Nature
If, upon rechecking the nest of kittens, you find that their mother has returned, you can rest easier and let nature take its course. She is the best bet that they will survive. Feel free to monitor the situation and make sure that the newborns are progressing, kept fed, and relatively safe from predators or other dangerous situations.
If The Mother Doesn’t Return
Its important for their chances of survival to not take kittens away from their mother if they havent been weaned from her milk. Pre-weaned kittens without a mother are very difficult to care for and have a high mortality rate. They require frequent feedings of kitten milk replacer formula day and night, and many “fail to thrive” without the care of their mother, even with all necessary veterinary care and experienced foster volunteers.
Only bring the kittens to the shelter if you are 100% certain the mother is not returning.
If the mother hasnt returned and the kittens are hungry, loud, or soiled:
- You can care for the kitten in your home . If kittens are over six weeks old, be sure to post a found report on our website.
- If you are unable to care for the kittens yourself, please contact MCAS immediately for help. Call 503-988-7387.
- You can bring them in a carrier or box with a towel or blanket to MCAS. To keep them warm during transport, fill up a water bottle with warm water, wrap it in a towel, and place it next to the kittens.
- You can also bring kittens to our partners in the community who will accept them on behalf of MCAS:
- Oregon Humane Society in North Portland
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What To Do When You Find A Kitten
When you come across a kitten or litter of kittens alone outdoors, you may feel the need to scoop them up and take them inside but that might not be the best thing for them . Read on to learn how you can best help kittens found outdoors.
Wait for the mother cat to returnWhile it might seem like the kittens have been orphaned, most kittens are not abandoned by their mother. Keeping kittens with their mother is ideal, so its important to give the mother cat time to return. If the kittens are in an exposed or unsafe area , you can move them a short distance to a safer location, such as under a nearby bush. You could also put the kittens into a cardboard box that you place close by, but out of the way of traffic and predators. These options will help protect the kittens while keeping them where their mother can easily find them again.
Once the kittens are in a safe spot, wait for their mother to return. It could be several hours before she comes back. Often, she has simply been away getting food. Sometimes shes nearby, but is hiding until you leave. Watch from inside, or at least from a good distance, so the mother cat feels comfortable returning to her kittens.
If the mother cat returns After the mother cat comes back, you can take additional steps to help to keep the feline family healthy and safe.
You can help kittens and mother cats by being informed, knowing when to take action, and getting involved when help is needed. Thank you for learning more today!