on Monday, January 22, 2018
It's “kitten season,” a time when it’s not unusual for well-meaning good Samaritans to discover litters of kittens outside. While our instincts tell us to help, the best thing we can do to ensure their health and safety is to leave the kittens alone!
It’s highly unlikely that a mother cat abandoned her kittens. She normally places them in a safe spot so she can hunt for food, and she’ll return within a few hours to that same safe place. It’s critical the kittens remain where they are because their mother’s care offers them their best chance of survival. The only time kittens should be moved is when they’re in immediate danger or if you know the mother is injured and unable to return to her family.
When kittens are taken from their mother, someone has to take their place, and a mom’s role is not an easy one to take on. Until kittens are about 5 weeks old, they’re dependent on their mother’s milk for nourishment. When they don’t have a mama, someone has to feed them a special formula every few hours around the clock, help them go to the bathroom, and keep them warm. It's a big job to help these little ones survive, so whenever possible it's best to let mom do what she does best.
If the kittens are sick, injured, or you are absolutely sure they have been orphaned, and you are unable to care for them, call our Pet Help Center at (515) 262-9503 to set up a time to bring them in. By not bringing every kitten to the shelter, our veterinary and foster care teams are able to better focus on helping the neediest pets in our community.
Check out the chart below to learn more about how to help kittens you find outside (many times by just leaving them alone!) and learn what to do next if the kittens do need your help.