Leave Them Be!
When someone finds a tiny kitten meowing under their porch or even a whole litter of kittens huddled under a bush outdoors, they may want to help immediately but not know what to do. Compassion is a good impulse, but our actions must always be guided by what is in a cat’s best interest. That means allowing kittens and moms who are already thriving outdoors to stay right where they are.
The truth is, in nearly all cases, kittens outdoors don’t need to be “rescued.” In fact, removing kittens from their mothers and bringing them indoors can be detrimental to their wellbeing. If you see kittens alone, their mother is likely close by—and her instincts make her their best possible caregiver.
The best thing you can do is LEAVE THEM BE and WAIT ‘TIL 8 (8 weeks and 2 lbs.).
Mother knows best. There’s a reason that phrase is a key nugget of wisdom—especially in the world of animals. No matter how many years of experience we gain bottle-feeding and raising kittens, we will NEVER be able to match a mother cat’s instinctual form of care. Plus, it takes monumental efforts on our part to provide the round-the-clock care that unweaned and neonatal kittens (kittens under 4 weeks old) need to survive.
A mother cat who lives outdoors knows just how to protect her kittens and doesn’t need our intervention. Give her a few basic essentials (shelter and food and water) and then let her do her job. Leave Them Be until the kittens are no longer nursing (meaning they are weaned), when they are at least 2-months-old and weigh 2 pounds.
If you find kittens outdoors without their mother, do not assume they don’t have one. Watch for 10 hours to see if mom returns. She is likely out looking for food, is in the process of moving her kittens, or is just taking a little break.
What if kittens DO need help? If you have waited for 10 hours and a young kitten’s mother never returns, you will have to intervene and provide care in her stead. Email or text our Foster Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-328-1686 to learn more about fostering kittens and visit our “Friendly Fosters of MHS” Facebook page to network with our experienced foster parents. You should also step in if the kittens or their mother look sick or injured and are clearly not thriving. If this is the case, take them to a local vet for treatment.
Wait ‘Til 8
Every year, thousands of kittens become separated from their mothers or are born into life threatening environments. Over the past 12 months, the Montgomery Humane Society took in 1,149 kittens, many of which would have been humanely euthanized if not for the dedicated efforts of dedicated foster parents. Unfortunately, we need your help since 499 did not survive. Kittens less than eight weeks old are at extremely high risk in shelters, where disease can spread quickly and affect these vulnerable animals heavily and often fatally.
You can be the hero that ensures we have the capacity to care for all the kittens at MHS!
The Wait ’til 8 means wait until kittens are 8 weeks old before turning into a shelter. Our Foster Program empowers citizens to become foster parents for unweaned and weaned kittens until they are 8 weeks old or at least 2 pounds—the minimum age and weight for kittens to be spayed or neutered and made available for adoption. To contact our Foster Team, email email@example.com or text Foster Support at 334-328-1686. To become a foster parent, complete an application. To network with our caring, dedicated MHS Foster Parents, join the Facebook group, Friendly Fosters of MHS.
Best Friends: What to do if you find kittens
10 Tips for Tricky Bottle Baby Kittens
Best Friends: Keeping the Youngest Safe during Kitten Season
Maddie’s Fund: From Surrenderer to Foster Parent for orphaned kittens
Montgomery Humane Society: Kitten Care Guide
Montgomery Humane Society: Fading Kitten Syndrome Emergency Protocol