April Showers Bring May Meow’ers!
During kitten season in the spring and summer, it’s not uncommon to discover a nest of unattended kittens who may seem abandoned by their mother. If you’re animal lovers like us, you want to help, right? Before jumping to the rescue, consider these recommendations.
Keep Calm, Wait and Watch
Many kittens will not survive if separated from mom during the first weeks of their life, so unless the kittens are in immediate danger, don’t move them. While they may seem abandoned, oftentimes their mother is just off searching for food or in the process of moving them.
How do I know if they’re abandoned?
- Watch the kittens from a safe distance, 35 feet or more, to see if the mother cat returns. Keep in mind it may be several hours before mom returns to attend to the kittens, and healthy kittens can survive this period without food as long as they are warm.
- If the kittens are warm, content, and quiet, mom has likely been there recently to nurse and care for them.
- Sprinkle flour around the nest. If you return after several hours and find paw prints and the kittens are still content, mom likely returned to care for them. Take special care to not touch or move the kittens, and never use a substance that could be toxic to mom or kittens.
- If hours pass and the kittens are fussy and loud, they may have been abandoned.
If mom returns and the area is relatively safe, leave the kittens with mom until they are weaned. If possible, offer a shelter, water, and regular food to mom.
Around six weeks is the optimal age to take the kittens from the mother for socialization and adoption placement, and any time after eight weeks for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Female cats can become pregnant with a new litter even while they are still nursing, so remember to have mom spayed as well or there will be more kittens soon!
If the mother cat does not return, then removing the kittens is critical to their survival. However, keep in mind that newborn kittens require around the clock care, and SICSA and other animal welfare organizations are not always able to take kittens on short notice. If you choose to remove the kittens, be prepared to provide the necessary care for a period of time.
SICSA offers spay and neuter services for kittens at least 8 weeks old or 2 pounds in weight, as well as a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for stray and feral cats. If you’re interested in these services, or for more information, please visit www.sicsa.org/fix or call us at 937-294-6505.
The SICSA intake program is by appointment. If you would like more information on getting kittens into the adoption program, please visit www.sicsa.org/surrendering-an-animal or call us at 937-294-6505.