From late spring to early autumn as many as 50 cats may be delivered to a local shelter in a single day. This large influx of cats is a result of “kitten season”. During these months, large numbers of feral and unaltered cats reproduce. Because many of these cats live outdoors, their litters are born in spaces where people such as yourself may find them. So when you find a litter of kittens near your home here is what you can do to ensure the best chances of survival for the kittens.
Ask yourself this important question, “Is the mother there?” Kittens have the best chance of survival with their mothers and should not be separated from their mothers if at all possible.
1. THE MOTHER IS THERE.
If the mother is there and the family is not in danger, you have two options. You can leave the family alone and aid them by providing food for the mother in a different location far enough away from the kittens that the mother is not concerned of exposing her litter. You can also try and rescue the mother and her kittens.
If the mother is there and the family is in danger, the best decision is to try and rescue the mother and her litter. If you choose to rescue the family, you must be prepared to help bottle feed and care for the mother and kittens until they are adopted or a local animal rescue shelter can assist you.
You can help reduce pet overpopulation by spaying the mother of the litter. Whether you have chosen to leave the kittens in a safe place or have rescued the mother and her litter, the mother should be spayed. She can become pregnant almost immediately after giving birth and while she is nursing, so it is best to bring her to a local animal shelter as soon as possible. Spaying the mother will not affect her ability to nurse.
2. THE MOTHER IS NOT THERE.
The first thing you do is WAIT. Mother’s often leave for periods of time to hunt for food. It must be absolutely clear that the mother is not coming back because 50% of kittens taken from their mother that are nursing die. Depending on the season (winter is a more dangerous time for kittens than the summer), you must determine how long to wait before being certain that the mother is not going to return. If she does not return then, for the safety of the litter, the kittens must be rescued. Keep the litter together while they continue to be bottle fed and pass through the socializing stages.
For information on how to bottle feed and care for kittens, Pawmetto Lifeline is hosting a FREE class on how to bottle feed found or orphaned kittens and puppies February 28 at 2 p.m. or March 4 at 6 p.m. You must register by contacting DeeAnn Jones at 803.465.9175 or email@example.com