What to do (and NOT do) if you find tiny kittens this kitten season:
- First and foremost - DON'T pick them up! Mom may be away hunting or looking for a better place to hide them! They regularly leave their babies for a few hours at at time - more and more as they get older. If the babies are quiet and warm, mama was probably just there. And mamas are smart, they won't come near you if they sense danger, so leave them be! Kittens have a MUCH better chance of survival with their mama. IT IS NOT ALWAYS AN EMERGENCY!
(Leave Them Be! - Alley Cat Allies)
- Put out a bowl of water and food and WATCH for mama somewhere she won't see you (like inside a car or inside through a window). IF after a few hours there is no sign of mama, or babies start to cry or feel cold to the touch, THEN it's time to intervene. If mama is spotted, work with a local rescue or TNR group (like Animal's Best Friend here in Kalamazoo!) to trap her AND the kittens. Again, kittens have a MUCH higher chance of survival WITH their mama - and mama can get spayed so she won't have to have babies ever again!
- Kittens need to be kept WARM - you can use a heating pad, rice sock/warmer or a hot water bottle (never directly ON the kittens - use a towel or blanket in between). Wherever they are kept, make sure there is a non-heated area they can move to if they become too warm. Typically, kittens will huddle up together for warmth and comfort.
(Heat Sources for Orphaned Kittens - Kitten Lady)
- Kittens need to eat every 6 hours MINIMUM - but don't feed them if you don't know what you're doing!! NEVER ever feed a kitten (or cat) cow's milk, or even water. This is the time to call in reinforcements! Reach out to a rescue organization to see if they have someone who can take on bottle babies.
- If the kittens are older (eyes open at about 14 days, they learn to walk around 3-4 weeks and they are typically able to walk around and start eating on their own around 4-6 weeks) it's time to trap! The only way to END cat overpopulation and stop finding kittens like this is to SPAY AND NEUTER!! This is why it's especially important to get mama too - so that they don't just keep reproducing!
(How Old is That Kitten? - Alley Cat Allies)
Soon, shelters will be OVERRUN with kittens - 'kitten season' is typically in the summer months when cats are reproducing at an alarming rate and there just aren't enough homes for them all.
Help us help them by taking the appropriate steps if you find kittens this summer! Make sure to SPAY AND NEUTER your pets and help reduce the overpopulation in our kitty community!
Further reading and resources:
- What To Do (and NOT do) If You Find a Newborn Kitten (Animal Alliance NYC)
- What to Do When You Find Stray Kittens (Central California SPCA)
- You Found a Stray Kitten - Here's What To Do (Catster)
- Stop Kidnapping Kittens (The Animal Foundation)