If you find kittens resist the urge to intervene, unless they’re in imminent danger. If conditions appear safe, leave them alone. Cats leave their babies to search for food, relieve themselves or to take a break. Mothers may be gone up to eight hours, but are usually not far. If only one or two kittens are seen, it’s possible that she is moving her family.
Monitor the area quietly and cautiously by checking every few hours. If the mother feels a threat to her family, she will move her kittens. Usually the first place she chooses for them is the safest. If they are handled or bothered, she’ll be forced to move them somewhere that may not be as safe. If the mother returns, do not continue to visit or check on the kittens more than once or twice each day.
Nursing mothers need extra calories so offer dry and wet kitten food. Fresh water and food may be left nearby but not too close that it would draw attention to the babies or attract other cats. A box with clean towels nearby may encourage her to use it as a bedding for her family.
When kittens begin to wander away from their den, this is a good time to consider trapping the mother for sterilization and finding a home for the kittens.
When to remove kittens
If kittens look distressed, meow loudly, breathe with their mouths open or the mother cat has not returned in over eight hours, they do need help.
Once the kittens are removed, keep them in a box with towels warm with a low heat source, as kittens younger than two weeks cannot regulate their own body temperature. Cover them loosely with more towels.
Since animal shelters and veterinary clinics often cannot provide the intensive care required, your help is needed to see this intervention through. Once they can eat dry or wet kitten food on their own and are healthy and large enough, which is at about 8 weeks old, they may be sterilized. Once they are sterilized, they are ready for you to help them find a family to call their own.
If you’re interested in caring for newborn kittens
If you’re interested in caring for newborn kittens, stop by the Admissions Center 24-hours a day to pick up a Kitten Kit. Watch the instructional video by the Kitten Lady below for tips on how to care for newborn kittens.