When you find some kittens underneath your deck or in the back of your garage, you might want to rescue them, but if the mom is still around, you might do more harm than good for the kittens. Kittens should not be separated from their mom until they are weaned at about 6 to 8 weeks of age.
Mom cats don’t abandon their kittens without any reason, however the mom might be absent from her kittens to hunt for food, to not attract humans or predator animals to her nest. Quite often she will attend to her babies in the middle of the night, since cats are nocturnal, and it will be quiet then, without threatening humans.
If they are clean, chubby kittens, snuggled up together, fast asleep, chances are mom just stepped out for a food run. If you find a scruffy looking single kitten or a screaming litter of kittens, they might need your help. Cold kittens that smell like pee and poop definitely will need your help.
- Screaming, unkempt, lethargic, scrawny, stinky, or cold warrants interference.
- Sleeping contently, spotless, alert, fat, warm, clean means usually, no help is needed.
If the kittens were quiet, pick one up, hold it and pet it. He will start crying. Put him down and go back to your hiding place. She may come out to check on him. Mom cats will move their babies to a more secluded hiding place if they fear for the safety of their kittens. Ask the neighbours if they’ve seen the mom cat. Assess the situation. Are the kittens in danger? You will need to take action if:
They feel cold to the touch, large dogs or other animals prowl nearby, or there’s impending cold or rainy weather.
If you fear for the kittens’ health or safety, bring them inside, get them warm and then return to try to find mom. Unlike the old wives tale about birds, cats will take their kittens back after they’ve been handled by people.
Submitted by Michaela