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 Kittens Living Outdoors

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Did You Find a
Nest of  Kittens?
DO NOT take babies to an animal shelter. Most shelters do not have programs to provide the care unweaned kittens need to survive and thrive. As a result, there is a risk that the kittens will be killed. Shelters in general are not good environments for mother cats and kittens.

Maybe you are taking a walk or spending some time outdoors and you discover a litter of kittens. What do you do? Scoop up the babies and take them home? Maybe call animal rescue? If you find a stray baby kitten or litter of kittens, follow these steps to make sure they stay safe.


Determine Kitten's Age

  • Day One: Kitten is helpless and so small it fits in the palm of your hand, can not stand, eyes are closed and ears folded, requires round-the-clock care

  • Day Three: Ears begin to unfold, eyes are still closed

  • Day Six:   Eyes begin to open

  • Week One: Ears unfold, eyes are completely open, weight is about 8 ounces

  • Week Two: Crawling, interacts with litter mates Week Three: Teeth begin to coming in

  • Week Four: Plays, steady on feet, weight is close to 15 ounces

  • Week Eight: Kittens weight is approximately 2 pounds and they are weaned
    For additional information on determining a kitten’s age:   



Kittens 4 Weeks or Younger — Find Out if the Mama Cat is Still Around

1. Mama is Caring for Kittens and They Appear Safe 

Wait  to see if the mama cat is still around. If the kittens are cozy and together, sleeping comfortably and overall look healthy, clean,  and appear well fed than there is a good chance she is still with them.

Tip:  Sprinkle  flour near the kittens’ nest.

If the mother cat returns, she will leave paw prints.

If she is and you have determined the kittens to be 4 weeks or younger and not in any immediate danger,  than do not separate them from the mama cat. 


2. Mama is Caring for Kittens and They Appear at Risk

When a litter and the mama  appear to be at risk, do one of the following: Move them to another outdoor space as close to the original as possible or take the kittens and mama cat indoors and crate them with a blanket covering the crate. Return mama and kittens to their original outdoor space once it's safe or to a new outdoor home.

Kittens 8 Weeks or Older — Take Them to A Vet to be Spayed/Neutered (Trap, Neuter and Spay Overview)

Take the kittens and mother cat, if she is around, to the vet to be spayed and neutered. At this point you have two options:

  • Return them to their outdoor home. Be sure they are ear tipped at the time they are spayed and neutered. Important, if you choose to return the kittens and/or the mother to their outdoor home they should be safe and thrive.

  • Adopt them yourself or place them in foster care. But, if the mother cat is not friendly or accustomed to being around people, the mama may be returned outdoors.

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