How to Help Stray and Feral Kittens
Kitten season is in full swing, and feral cats are frequently having litters in our community. Do you know what you should do if you find a stray kitten while out and about?
First, remember that many times, a baby kitten (6-8 weeks or younger) hasn’t been abandoned. It’s mama is likely in the middle of moving the other kittens to a safer location, or is off hunting and will return shortly. Here are the Dallas Pets Alive! Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) Team’s top 5 tips for helping stray kittens.
1. Do Not Touch or Move the Kittens
The only exception is if a kitten has visible injuries or is in extreme danger (e.g. in the middle of the road in danger of being hit by a car). If mama feels someone is trying to interfere with her or her kittens, she will quickly move to a safer location. She may leave her kittens behind, which significantly decreases their chances of surviving. More importantly, we lose the opportunity to trap and spay mama to prevent her from producing many more litters.
2. Observe the Kittens From a Distance
Mama can only carry one baby at a time, so when she moves her litter, she has to leave the others for a few minutes. You may not be able to see her but she always has eyes on her babies. Some mama cats will abandon their kittens if they smell a human scent, so it’s best not to touch the kittens unless they are in extreme danger.
3. Be Patient
It’s best to keep kittens with their mama; this will ensure their best chances for survival. Monitor their behavior several times during the day and evening. (Cats are more active at night.) Mama will likely feed her kittens in the middle of the night when no one can see her. Even if you can’t see her with your own eyes, she’s likely hiding in plain sight.
4. Offer Food and Shelter
Fill a giant box or plastic bin with a blanket, turn it on its side, and place it in quiet, hidden corner of your yard or shed (be sure to keep the door propped open). This will help protect mama and her babies from the elements and predators.
A nursing mamma burns a lot of calories and needs to keep up her energy, so put out as much food and water as you can. Keeping her close by with food will earn her trust and ensure the safety of the litter. Be sure to keep resident pets from getting in her way and frightening her.
5. Call an Expert to Help
When in doubt, call a rescue group to assess the situation and successfully trap mama and her babies. Dallas Pets Alive! has experts who are here to help. Call us at 214-444-9372, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message through Facebook Messenger.