Do You Know What To Do If You Find A Stray Cat Or Kitten
The signs of spring are hard to ignore. The ice has melted away, replaced by the occasional rain puddle. The smell of fresh earth is in the air as trees and flowering plants burst forth in verdant bloom.
And then there are the cats.
Spring not only heralds the end of winter, it shifts feline pheromones into overdrive, and for those who have not been neutered or spayed, it can result in unexpected litters of kittens, often abandoned outdoors without shelter or food. People who dont spay or neuter their pets are only contributing to this problem, because cats are prolific breeders who can birth their own litters at just 6 months of age.
According to the Dodo, around 1.4 million cats are euthanized each year, while 3.4 million more are taken in by shelters in hopes that they wont meet the same fate.
What To Do If You Find An Abandoned Kitten Or Litter
As we go into 2016 my strongest wish is that we wont have any abandoned babies to raise this year. As much as I love these tiny bundles of joy, I can never give them what their mother can, no human substitute can and babies belong with their mothers when at all possible. There were numerous litters that were brought in last year that shouldnt have been by people that meant well but interfered too soon
Before you scoop up a litter of abandoned kittens, please be SURE the kittens are actually abandoned.
How do you tell? If you find a single kitten wandering on its own or a litter dumped in a box or bag, you should rescue them immediately. They were probably abandoned by an unscrupulous and heartless human. In cases like this they will need urgent care, including keeping them warm and feeding them kitten formula NOT cows milk! In an emergency goats milk can be used for a short period of time, it doesnt provide all the nutrients the kittens need but it wont give them diarrhea and dehydrate them like cows milk does. Please contact your vet or us for help or instructions on hand raising kittens.
You should give her as much space as possible and not interfere with her. You can set up some sort of shelter nearby in the hopes that she might use it, and of course she will appreciate a steady source of food and water. Nursing mothers need lots of extra calories, so its best to feed dry kitten food if possible.
What To Do With Found Kittens
May 9th, 2019
I am often asked what to do with found kittens! Last July I wrote about fostering kittens, and now with kitten season underway once again I feel it is a good time to revisit the topic. If you are available to help, we need you! . However, to answer that frequently asked question, here is what you can do if you stumble upon kittens:
First, observe the kittens from a distance. The kittens may seem to be abandoned, however, the mother cat may not be far away. She could be hunting, or she could be hiding, waiting for you to get away from her babies. Wait a few hours before disturbing the kittens unless they are in obvious danger. Are the kittens sleeping and seem content? The mother is probably around and nearby. If you check the area again and there are fewer kittens, the mother is most likely moving them to a new area. If you cannot be sure, sprinkle flour around where the kittens are located and look for paw prints in the disturbed flour when you revisit the site. If you determine that the mother is present, continue to observe the family from a distance, she will most likely move the kittens to a new area. It is best for the mother to nurse them as they will have a greater chance of survival until about six weeks, when the kittens should be socialized by humans. When the kittens have reached that age you can bring them to your local animal care center.
We hope you will consider joining us in fostering kittens!
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Caring For Mama And Kittens
Kittens need their mothers milk until theyre about four weeks of age. Until then, you may want to leave some food out for the mama cat to eat.
Try to keep the kittens with their mama until they are eating solid food. This usually happens around the time theyre five to six weeks old. The milk of their mother contains antibodies that will help the kittens to grow up strong and healthy, and her love and care will teach them what they need to know to be grown-up cats.
Once the kittens are eating solid food, thats the time to take action. Capture or trap mama and her kittens, and bring them inside.
Its best to keep them separated from other cats you may have until you can get everyone checked out by a vet.
Youll want to make sure mama and her kittens all get vaccinated and spayed or neutered. The kittens could have fleas or worms, and youll need to get that treated or cared for.
Once the kittens are happy and healthy, then youll want to make sure they all find loving homes. One step at a time!
If mama is not friendly, you may have to trap her to get her spayed and vaccinated before you release her back to her outdoor home, or else youre going to have more kittens in the future. Feral cats are happiest living in the wild and as long as they arent reproducing, spreading disease, or excessively damaging the environment, thats okay.
A local TNR program can prove helpful, so look them up online and call for more assistance.
Dont Take Kittens Or Their Mother To An Animal Shelter
Most shelters do not have programs to provide the careunweanedkittensneedto surviveand thrive.As a result, there is a risk that the kittenswill be killed.Shelters in general are not good environments for mother cats and kittens. Even in the best of shelters a mother cat can become so stressed that her healthy is affected, as well as her ability to care for her kittens. The shelter environment can also be dangerous for kittens because their immune systems havent fully developed, and can easily catch diseases.
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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, after watching for 4-6 hours, you are 100% certain the mother is not returning.
If the mother hasnt returned within 4-6 hours:
- 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 stray kittens to our partners in the community who will accept them on behalf of MCAS:
- Oregon Humane Society in North Portland
Kittens Younger Than 8 Weeks With Their Mother
Leave Them Be! Kittens who are healthy and thriving with their mother outdoors do not need to be rescued.
Remember: Mother knows best. You cannot replace a mother cats instinctive care. Plus, neonatal kittens need round-the-clock care to survivewhich is challenging for humans to provide. These kittens are unweaned, meaning they still rely on their mothers milk.
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Ways To Help Homeless Cats
Theres no way around the issue for the many cats already hoping to avoid an early death and find a forever home, but there are ways that people can prevent this horribly sad situation from reoccurring, year after year. Here are five ways you can do your part to keep shelters from being overburdened this season:
Why Not Pick Up Kittens Right Away
You dont want to steal a mom cats babies!
Many baby kittens you find outdoors are being well-cared for by a community or feral mom cat. Community or feral cats are often in a colony of cats, fed and cared for by one or more caretakers. Responsible caretakers do their best to make sure all the cats in their colony are spayed and neutered so they cant make more kittens. However, sometimes a newcomer joins a colony and has babies before they can be trapped, neutered/spayed, and released . Or sometimes there are caretakers who dont realize they need to get the cats fixed.
If you find baby kittens, Mom cat might be out looking for food, or moving her kittens to a new nest. If kittens are in a relatively safe place and not injured or sick, ideally you will assess and do a kitten stakeout to see if mom comes back. You may need to wait a couple of hours. As long as the kittens are warm enough, healthy kittens can survive a couple of hours without food. Stay as far away as you can while still keeping an eye on where the kittens are located. If you are too close mom cat might wait for you to move away before she returns.
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Finding A Kitten Foster
When you have the kittens safely contained, call or visit your local animal control shelter to ask what any local laws may be regarding reporting found kittens. When you speak to them, you can ask the shelter if they have a foster program and can easily take the kittens in, or if they know of a rescue that can. If a shelter or rescue has the room and resources, you can offer to foster for them or ask them to take in the kittens.
However, you may be the kittens only hope! In many communities, shelters and rescues may not have the resources to care for kittens that are not big enough to be fixed and adopted thats usually when they weigh 2 pounds, at around 8 weeks old. Or maybe they can only take them after they are eating on their own and dont need overnight care, when they are about 4 to 5 weeks old.
What To Do If You Find Stray Kittens
If you find a litter of kittens, first, watch and wait! A kittens best chance of thriving is with its mother.
Momma Cat may be off finding food for herself, or she may be in the process of actively moving her litter to another location. Try to determine if the mother is coming back for them or if they are truly orphaned. Stand far away from the kittens 35 feet or more. If you stand too close, the mom will not approach her kittens. You might need to go away completely before the mother cat returns to attend to the kittens. It could be several hours before the mother cat returns until she no longer senses the presence of humans hovering near her litter.
If you need to leave before the mother cat comes back, carefully evaluate whether the kittens are in immediate danger: Is it raining or snowing on the kittens? Are there wild animals that might harm the kittens in the neighborhood? Does the neighborhood have kids or adults who are likely to harm the kittens? Are the kittens located in an area with heavy foot or car traffic?
To help with your decision, it is important to know that it might take several hours for the mother cat to return, and healthy kittens can survive this period without food as long as they are warm. Neonatal kittens are just as much at risk of hypothermia as they are of starvation. During the spring and summer months, waiting a long time to see if mom will come back is much safer than during frigid winter months.
If the mother cat returns
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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.
What Should I Do With A Sick Or Injured Stray/feral Cat
If you find an injured stray or feral cat and they’re approachable, please confine them and take them to a vet, if possible. If this is not possible, please get in contact with us on 0300 1234 999.
If taking a sick/injured stray cat to the vets and the cat just needs minimum care, you might be expected to take the cat away and fit a paper collar if needed.
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Why Cant I Bring The Kittens And Their Mother Indoors
Even if your home is very nice, a mother cat may become so stressed by being confined in the new environment that it impacts her health and her ability to care for her kittens. Community cats thrive in their outdoor home and the mother cat has likely chosen an ideal space to raise her kittens, so there is no need to intervene.
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!
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How To Identify An Independent Kitten
An independent kitten will:
- Be capable or urinating and defecating without assistance from their mother
- Eat solid food
- Be able to walk
- Be able to play
If the kitten is not capable of any of the above, they’re deemed still dependent on their mother. If this is the case and the kitten is alone, please get in touch with us via our helpline on 0300 1234 999.
Bringing Kittens And Mother Cats To The Local Animal Shelter
Most shelters cannot accommodate the overwhelming amount of kittens and cats during this time. The best thing to do for the shelters and the cats is to leave them outdoors. A shelter can be dangerous for kittens because their immune systems havent fully developed and can stress out the mother cat and impact her health, as well.
It is recommended to bring in stray cats when they are old enough to be spayed or neutered, then return them to their outdoor home. Counties offer spay and neutering programs to help reduce the animal population with little or no cost to the person who found the animal.
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What Should I Do If I Can’t Find The Cat’s Owner
If after not being able to locate the animal’s owner, you’re prepared to take responsibility for continued feeding and are willing to take the cat to a vet for vaccinations & neutering, please do so – you would be potentially saving a little life.
If you’re willing to help but are concerned that you’re not financially able, you can contact your local branch to see if they can offer you any welfare assistance. Alternatively, other animal charities such as Cats Protection might be able to help.
Determine If Mom Is Stray Or Feral
In the event that the mama cat returns to her babies, its your job to determine whether shes a stray who relies on humans for survival or a feral that wants nothing to do with you. Discerning the difference shouldnt be hard. If she lets you approach her or is timidly interested in your presence, shes a stray. A feral will stay far away, despite all your cooing and the temptation of food.
Strays can be rescued and considered for adoption, but your best option with a feral is to contact a group that does TNR, or Trap, Neuter, Release. The organization can trap the feral mama, spay her, and release her to her kittens. If the kittens are too young to survive without their mothers milk, its best to leave them where they are. You can check up on them and provide food, but for now, their mother is their best chance at survival.
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