Spring is here, which means the weather will (hopefully!) start getting warmer. With the warmer weather and longer days comes, ‘kitten season’. Kitten season is the time of year when most kittens are born and when we get a lot of stray kittens brought into the clinic. In this article we will be discussing what to do if you find stray kittens.
Firstly, assess the situation and investigate whether the kitten/s are on their own. Their mother might be away hunting for food, she might be hiding because you are there, or she might be moving her kitten/s one by one to a new location. If you can, stand back and watch from a distance and give her time; at least a few hours. Separating kitten/s, especially neonatal kitten/s (under four weeks of age) from their mother can be detrimental to their health and well-being, as mum will still be nursing (feeding) her babies, toileting them and teaching them valuable cat behaviours. Neonatal kittens can survive without their mother, however it takes a lot of time and hard work by a dedicated person to provide the proper round-the-clock care that they need. Ideally, kittens should stay with their mum’s until they are eight weeks old.
If the mother shows up, then you should take action to capture the mum and her babies. Do this with caution though, as she might be a feral cat and you don’t want to stress/ scare the mum so much that she (or the kittens) will dart off. If you are unsure how to safely and calmly capture them, please seek the assistance from a professional (local council, shelters or a veterinary clinic).
If after waiting and there is still no mum around, this is when you can intervene and take the babies to safety. Again, proceed with caution, as (depending on the kitten/s age) they could still cause a nasty scratch or bite! Make sure you are prepared with a carrier, towels/ blankets, treats, a net to collect the kittens.
Once you have caught the kitten/s please take them immediately to a veterinary clinic as they will need to be examined by a veterinarian and given appropriate treatment. Worm and flea infestations are common in stray kittens. They can also be prone to cat flu, which without proper treatment, can be life-threatening.
If you come across a litter of stray kittens and are unsure what to do, please don’t hesitate to call the clinic. Our vets and nurses are always happy to help these tiny felines!