What to Do with Orphaned Kittens (pt 1)

Did you know that there are actually five seasons every year? Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and KITTEN SEASON! That’s right, every year from March-September thousands of kittens are born to outdoor cats. If, for some reason, that mom cat can not or will not take care of her kittens, she will abandon them, leaving the kittens with very limited time unless somebody intervenes and cares for them in her place.

For some extremely in-depth information, check out these resources:


Found some kittens? Wait a Minute.

Finding kittens doesn’t necessarily mean that their mother has abandoned them; many times the mother is out looking for food or a new, safer shelter for her family, especially if the kittens are sleeping. It’s important to leave the kittens alone and wait 2-3 hours to see if the mother returns. Even finding one or two kittens by themselves may mean the mother is in the process of moving them to a new location and will come back to collect the remaining babies. Kittens have their best chance of survival when they are with their mother, and many shelters and rescues do not have the means or space to take in un-weaned kittens and will, unfortunately, euthanize them within 24 hours, so try your hardest to evaluate the situation before moving the little family.

If the mother returns and is friendly, the best thing to do is bring in momma with her babies and let her care for them until they are ready to be adopted. At that point you should get mom spayed and find her an adoptive home, as well.

If mom returns and is not friendly, it is still the best thing for the kittens to remain with her. To help her care for the babies, and to insure their best chance at survival, you can do a few things to help:

  • Provide a shelter for momma to house her babies
  • Provide dry AND wet food for mom 2-3 times a day (it’s important for nursing mothers to stay hydrated and well fed – wet food makes sure she is getting enough fat and liquid supplementation to help her produce milk)
  • Provide fresh water
  • Do not touch, move, or disturb mom or the kittens

Once the kittens are weaned and eating the wet or dry food, you can trap mom, get her spayed, then release her back where you trapped her. This is a method for feral cats called TNR (trap, neuter, release) that helps prevent feral cats from populating. You can find more information on TNR, as well as instructional videos and resources at http://bestfriends.org/resources/feral-cats-and-tnr

If the mother does not return you must decide what to do next. If you are going to try to care for these kittens, it’s important that you know what you’re jumping into. Caring for un-weaned kittens (kittens under 8 weeks old) is a round the clock job, just like with a newborn baby, and, depending on their age, kittens must be bottle-fed or syringe fed every 2-3 hours.

Be sure to check back for the remaining posts on orphaned kittens. If you're currently caring for orphaned kittens and need some help right now check out these resources:


Note: all photos used are from Best Friends Animal Society


Guest Post by: Sondra Davenport , neonatal kitten expert


Urban Paw is an innovative pet products company providing pets with the best sleep possible. From cat huts, cat cuddlers and cat houses to dog mattresses, dog huts and dog houses, Urban Paw offers long lasting pet beds and stylish pet beds for dogs and cats. Affordable pet beds designed for comfort and style, Urban Paw is dedicated to helping cat rescues and dog rescues raise funds and awareness for animals in need.