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What do you do if you find a stray kitten?

(ABC4) – Do you know what to do if you find a kitten that seems orphaned or abandoned?

While the idea of ​​taking a kitten to a shelter sounds like a good idea, it’s actually not, says the Best Friends Animal Society of Utah. A refuge should be the last resort and not a first step.

Imagine yourself on a walk and you hear kitten cries coming from afar. You spot the baby feline under a bush, pick it up, and rush it for shelter – bad idea.

Removing the kitten from where you found it may do more harm than good and put it in even more danger. The Best Friends Animal Society says most kittens aren’t orphaned at all, so the best thing for a healthy kitten is to leave them with their mother.

The mother is often nearby and plans to return to take care of her babies. Best Friends says that the mother is the kitten’s best source of food and can give her better care than even the most caring human foster family.

“Kitten season” typically runs from spring through fall, when unspayed female cats have the majority of their litters and shelters across the country are flooded with kittens, some of whom need round-the-clock care. 24.

Most shelters don’t have the resources, space, staff, or volunteers to provide newborn kittens with the essential care they need.

According to Best Friends, young kittens are at a high risk of dying or being killed in shelters because newborns need to be bottle-fed every two to four hours. Kittens are also extremely fragile and susceptible to disease.

Best Friends data shows that two cats are killed for every dog.

In 2020, nearly 347,000 dogs and cats were killed in US animal shelters, nearly 70% of which were cats and kittens.

To give newborn kittens the best chance of survival, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How long ago did you first notice litter? If it’s only been a short time, leave the kittens alone and try to find out if their mother is still around. Observe them from a distance every two hours. It’s normal to wait until 10 to 12 hours to see if mom comes back to pick them up. If the kittens seem content and aren’t fussing, chances are their mother will return.
  2. Haven’t seen the mother cat lately? Sprinkle a ring of flour around kittens so they can leave, but periodically check for paw prints of a returning mother cat. If you have a wildlife camera, this is also a great way to monitor the nest from a safe distance.
  3. Are kittens in danger? If the kittens are in danger due to their location, move them to a safer place nearby so the mother can find them easily when she returns.
  4. Do any of the kittens look hurt or sick or are they crying or cold to the touch? If the kittens are dirty, meowing, or seem sick, underweight, or dehydrated, it could be a sign that the mother hasn’t been around for a while. Contact a local rescue organization or a trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) or community chat program. They can help you determine if the kittens are at risk and if you need to intervene.
  5. Is their nest clean or messy? Mother cats are very picky about keeping their babies clean, so chances are that if they’re in a tidy place, she’s visited them recently.
  6. How old do you think the kittens can be? This pamphlet can help you determine the age of kittens and identify key milestones (are they eyes open, are they walking, etc.). The younger the kittens, the more human intervention they will need if mom doesn’t show up soon.
  7. Have you spotted the mom? If the mother is nearby, leave the kittens alone and let her take care of them. She is their best chance of survival.
  8. Are the kittens old enough to be neutered or neutered? When kittens have eaten on their own for about four weeks or are old enough for surgery (usually when they are between two and three months old), humanely trap the whole family and have them neutered. A local TNVR program may be able to help you with the entrapment process. The TNVR is the most humane, safe and effective method of keeping cats and kittens out of the shelter system while reducing the overall stray cat population.
  9. Didn’t the mother come back after about 12 o’clock? If mom doesn’t return and the kittens seem healthy, it’s time to step in and be their hero. You can take care of the kittens yourself, in the comfort of your home. While caring for newborn kittens is incredibly rewarding, and by keeping them out of the shelter, you give them a better chance of surviving and thriving. Here are resources to help you take care of very young kittens if their mother does not return and you are able to take them in. Many shelters even offer resources and supply kits to help those who can take in kittens found in their homes and can help spay/neuter when the kittens are old enough.


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