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5 Tips for Helping Kittens During Kitten Season

Kitten season is fast approaching. “Spring is when most litters of kittens are born,” says Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “Should you come across kittens, you may be tempted to pick them up and bring them home with you, but that might not be in the best interest of the kittens.”

Deciding what to do when you find kittens depends on a number of variables, says Robinson. She suggests the following steps:

1. Determine the Kittens’ Age
If kittens are not exposed to or handled by people in their first weeks, they will not be socialized and cannot be adopted as pets. These feral cats will prefer to live their lives outdoors, in family groups called colonies. Check Alley Cat Allies’ online guide to kitten progression to help establish the age of the kitten.

2. Find out whether a Mother Cat is Caring for the Kittens
“If the kittens are alone when you find them, they could be abandoned, or the mother could simply be looking for food,” Robinson explains. “Wait and observe from a distance for an hour or two.”

3. If the Mother Cat Does Not Return
Determine if the kittens are young enough to be socialized, or if they should be trapped, neutered, and returned to the site. Note that if the kittens are not yet weaned, they will require bottle-feeding and round-the-clock care.

4. If the Mother Comes Back
Keep in mind that her care is best for the kittens, and they should remain with her until they are weaned. If she is friendly, trap her, pick up the kittens, and bring the whole family indoors to a confined area until the kittens are old enough to be adopted. If the mother is feral, leave the family outside and provide shelter, food, and water. Once the kittens are weaned, place them in foster care for adoption.

5. Neuter to Ensure No More Kittens
“The best way to help stray and feral cats is to end the breeding cycle through Trap-Neuter-Return,” says Robinson. All cats should be vaccinated and neutered. Socialized cats and young kittens are put up for adoption at shelters. Feral cats are eartipped and returned to their colony.

For more information on caring for and socializing kittens, as well as tips on starting a Trap-Neuter-Return program, visit Alley Cat Allies.

12 comments to 5 Tips for Helping Kittens During Kitten Season

  • Thank you for the great tips. Anything we can do to help especially with the ever growing feral cat population.

  • Fulvia

    Thank you, Michele. Very helpful info!

  • catherine ignatowski

    Thanks Michele very informative.

  • Very good information. Thank you for sharing.

  • […] more: 5 Tips for Helping Kittens During Kitten Season « Pet News and Views Posted in Uncategorized | Tags: adopted-as-pets, are-not, called-colonies-, family-groups, […]

  • Wonderful post, Michele! Thank you! Kitten season might be cute but it’s a major problem that leads to the overwhelming amount of cat euthanasias performed nowadays in our country.

  • […] Go here to read the rest: 5 Tips for Helping Kittens During Kitten Season « Pet News and Views […]

  • Henriette Matthijssen

    Thanks Michele, I rescued feral kittens many years ago! The mom was tamed but not the kittens & we had to trap them as they were already walking around. We ended up luring them inside the trap with food one at a time over two days. There were 6 of them & we had to wear gloves as they were hissing/spitting/scratching, but within a week inside our home they tamed up quickly as they wanted the food which lured them out of hiding!

  • […] 5 Tips for Helping Kittens During Kitten Season « Pet News and Views […]

  • Jill

    Thanks Michele, some people dont know what to do so its good to get the help out there, it all helps the feral cat population…Alley Cat Allies has an excellent article on feral cats too.

  • Ellie

    This is a very helpful article but I have too disagree with one item. Feral kittens can be tamed. I have several cats that were adopted at various stages of life. All were born is a wooded area and had no human contact the first months of their lives. Some we started to tame at 3 months of age and some were adults when we started working with them. With time and a lot of patience they can become loving homebodies. While it is true that it takes a little extra time and care to tame a feral kitten it certainly can be done. I would not like to give the impression that kittens not socialized from an early age cannot be good pets. That is dooming millions of cats to a horrible existence and lingering deaths. Cats can survive in the wild for a short time but they are not meant to be wild animals. They cannot fend for themselves. People need to be educated fairly about the domestic cat because so many are left to die a slow miserable deaths on their own.

  • Thanks Ellie, for pointing this out. And thanks for spending the time to work with these precious kitties.–Michele