on Tuesday, March 28, 2023
What should you do if you find a litter of tiny kittens? It's important to remember that not every outdoor kitten needs saving. See our flow chart above to decide whether or not you should intervene.
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, in most cases 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.
If the kittens look OK, you can help the mama cat by providing her with good food and lots of water. Kitten food is great for nursing moms! Once the kittens are older, contact a trap-neuter-return (TNR) group to get the family spayed and neutered.
If the kittens are sick, injured, or you are absolutely sure they have been orphaned, call our Pet Helpline at (515) 262-9503 for assistance. If you are able to care for the kittens, great! We are happy to give you advice and set you up with supplies.
Remember, 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.