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What to do if you find an abandoned kitten

So you walked down the street and you came across a kitten or a bunch of them, high pitch meowing with no mommy around.
they look so small and fragile… and the thoughts hit you: “All alone? here?? there are cars here… and dogs… and… people that don’t pick their eyes from their smartphone that can accidentally step on their soft bodies…”

So you want to help, to make sure they are safe, but don’t know how… what to do?

outdoors cats with mom

Firstly: Wait and observe – where is mommy?

Generally speaking, even in an outdoors environments – the kitten’s mother is enough to supply all their basic needs.

her mother’s milk is enough of food they need at this age, she knows how to clean them, physically protect them, she will move them if danger is nearby and she will know how to encourage them to interact with their surroundings and learn other “cat” activities.

so first off, can you see their mommy around? usually not that hard to spot as she will most likely look like her babies, as goes for breed and colors.

can’t see her? you should know that at least one time a day, mom cat goes out for a few hours and leaves her kittens in a place she feels is safe to get food or water, or she can be out looking for a better, more secure place to move her babies.
yea, everyone has their 9 to 5 kind of job these days.

for this observation stand far away from the kittens, 35 feet or more.
this is because mom might have already spotted you and is hiding from you and waiting for you to get away from her babies.
if you stand too close, the mom will not approach her kittens as humans are perceived as danger to kittens in her eyes.
you might need to go away completely before the mother cat returns to attend to the kittens, so try checking up on them a few hours later.

Secondly: is there an immediate danger to the kittens?

so no mom around as of now, you’re about to leave in order to check up on those sweeties later but wait…
carefully evaluate whether the kittens are in immediate danger: Is it raining or snowing? Are dogs or wild animals that might harm the kittens?
how about that terrible neighbor of your that you spotted kicking a cat in the trash can? will he come across these babies?
are the kittens located in an area with a heavy foot or car traffic?

remember this:
cats have a strong sense of smell.
once you touch the kittens – your smell rubs off on the kittens, mother cat smells this and will not see these kittens as hers anymore and most likely will not care for them anymore.

try to determine how old the kittens are without touching it:

  • 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.

at all these ages their chances to survive without their mother are slim to none.

Mother won’t come or there is an immediate danger to the kittens

If you discover that mommy has been hit by a car, that terrible neighbor caught her or if for any reason it appears that she is not coming back – then it’s time to act and move the kittens.

This is crucial to the kittens’ survival as they won’t survive alone without care there.
even if the mother might be coming back but you spot one of the kittens injured or bleeding – you might need to take one of them and leave the rest for the mother to keep caring for them.
if one of them looks injured, kitten to a veterinarian for a checkup ASAP.

these kittens at this stage need close around the clock care which includes scheduled bottle-feeding, keeping them warm in a room temperature at 75 degrees, etc.newborn kitten in handthere will an article with instructions on this in a different article but for now, your mission is to get these babies to people who are experienced in newborn kittens care.

find a no-kill animal shelter.
The No Kill Network has a list of organizations by state, and Adopt-A-Pet lists cat rescues.
as well all know, at certain times of the day and week, those organizations or veterinarian are closed.
try to think if you know anyone who has the knowledge to temporarily foster the kittens to keep them safe and healthy until it’s possible to take them to any animal shelters.
of course, it is best if those people you know can foster or adopt them for longer periods of time or for the rest of their lives.

after all, the end goal for these kittens is a loving home.

All pictures are Creative Commons  from pixabay.com

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