What Should You Do if You Find Kittens in the Wild? Wait & Watch

Spring means the start of kitten season, which also means a lot of well-intentioned people are finding young kittens and bringing them to shelters. In just 2-days, Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando received ten kittens less than one week old. When people find kittens in the wild, they believe they are doing the right thing and helping the kittens by bringing them to a shelter. However, it is always best to leave them be until you are sure the mother is not involved.

The momma cats can be stealthy and hard to spot. They may be in the process of moving the nest, searching for food or just hiding when they see a human. If you find one kitten or a few, hang back and observe to see if the mom returns.

The first two weeks of a kitten’s life are critical. They’re dependent on their mother’s milk to get the nutrients they need to survive. If you remove a kitten from its mother, it will be harder for it to thrive. The survival rate of kittens under two-weeks of age that are separated from their mom is less than 50-percent.

Experts recommend watching the nest for several hours before taking action. If the kitten or kittens are clean, plump and sleeping quietly in a pile, they most likely have an attentive mom and should be left alone. If they are abandoned, the nest will likely be soiled and they will cry continuously because they are hungry. It is not typical for a momma cat to abandon her kittens.

Kittens under two-weeks are especially dependent on their mother’s milk to get the nutrients they need to survive. This why it’s critical to be sure that the mother is not around before disturbing the kittens. If after several hours there is no sign of a mom, you can contact Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando to find out what to do next.

If a kitten has been abandoned, we have a team of volunteer foster homes that will do their best to care for the kitten.

Things to Remember

  • Do not remove kittens from a nest until you’ve observed it for at least 4-hours
  • If the kittens are clean, plump and content, it is doubtful they are abandoned
  • Kittens under 2-weeks of age that are separated from their mom have a less than 50-percent chance of survival even with talented and experienced caregivers
  • If you are unsure or have questions, call Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando at 407-351-7722.