It’s kitten season—the months from early Spring to early Fall when unaltered stray cats begin to reproduce prolifically. As a result, it is not uncommon to find nests of what may appear to be abandoned newborn kittens. But, before jumping to the rescue, Miami-Dade County Animal Services (Animal Services) advises residents to consider the following recommendations to ensure the best chances of survival for the kittens.
WHAT TO DO AND NOT DO SHOULD YOU FIND A LITTER OF KITTENS
- Resist the urge to immediately touch the kittens or move them. Instead, observe the kittens quietly from a distance for a period of 12 to 24 hours, as the mother may simply be out looking for food or a better place to move them to and is likely to return to care for them. Very young kittens cannot fully feed themselves and need their mother’s milk to survive until they are fully able to eat on their own or weaned off the mother.
- You can put cat food out for the mom and a box that the mother could use to keep her kittens in (don’t put the kittens inside it, just put it near them). Don’t disturb the kittens as this may discourage the mother from returning to them, or she may move them away from you.
- If you sense the kittens are in immediate danger or in a dangerous area, such as underneath a car, in an area that is flooding due to rain, etc., look for the nearest safe area to which you can move them—close enough to the original spot— that will still allow the mother to find them. Place them in a sheltered area, away from direct sun, rain or traffic and continue to watch for the mother.
- Only take them in if you have observed the kittens for 12 to 24 hours and are SURE the mother is not likely to return. If you are sure the mother will not return, be prepared to care for them when you pick them up, remember they cannot feed themselves. Get tips on how to care for them at home by visiting www.alleycat.org
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
The best way to reduce the overwhelming number of unwanted cats is to spay or neuter your cats starting at 4 months old. Miami-Dade Animal Services offers low cost spay/neuter surgeries as well as a free Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for community cats.
For information on low-cost spay/neuter surgeries or free TNR call 3-1-1 or visit animals.miamidade.gov
Become a Kitten Cuddler foster parent at Animal Services. The Kitten Cuddler foster program provides training on bottle feeding and the general care of newborn kittens. Kitten Cuddlers also receive newborn kitten care kits that include heating pads, feeding bottles and kitten milk replacer.
For information on becoming a Kitten Cuddler, email firstname.lastname@example.org