Kitten season is upon us. Although seeing these new babies roaming in the wild is cute, it can also cause some concern if you find one by its lonesome. Do you leave it be? What if you want to help it but worry the mother won’t come back for it? Is it old enough to be by itself? These are some of the questions that may run through your mind so we are here to help you make the best decision for your situation.

Assess the Situation

Stray multi-colored kitten looking up.

Is the kitten clean and not crying? There’s a good chance it is still being cared for by its mother. In this case, it is probably best that the kitten stays with its family. Mother cats have antibodies in their milk that keeps the kitten strong and gives it a better chance of survival. Plus, mother cats help teach kittens how to be, well, a cat. But if the kitten is dirty or seems sick, most likely the mother abandoned the kitten and it will need additional aid from human intervention.

Contact a Local Rescue Group or Shelter

Animal shelter worker holds a kitten next to kittens in cages.

Check with your local shelter to see if they are able to take-in any kittens at the time. If so, then you can take the kitten straight to them. But a lot of the time, shelters can be overflowing with animals, especially kittens, so you don’t want to take the kitten immediately to the shelter if they can’t care for it. Rescue groups are also a great option. They often have Facebook groups where they can reach out to the local cat community and fosters to see if anyone can take in the kitten. Either way, both shelters and rescue groups should be able to provide you with some tips for next steps and how to care for it yourself.

Take It Home With You

If you are interested in caring for the kitten yourself, there are additional steps you need to take. First of all make sure that the kitten is not under 4 weeks old. If it is, if it is taken away from its mother and not given the proper care, it reduces the chance of the kitten’s survival. An easy way to determine if the kitten is at least 4 weeks old is if their canines are emerging and they are walking confidently. But as mentioned, if the kitten is abandoned, you will need to call a vet to see how you need to care for the kitten. Make sure the kitten is warm so there is no risk of hypothermia. Cats who are under four weeks old need to be bottle-fed every two-three hours. Do NOT give them cow’s milk. A kitten milk replacement will need to be purchased. To help kittens use the bathroom, you also have to rub their behinds with a warm washcloth. They cannot defecate or urinate on their own.

If You Are Unable to Directly Help

If you can’t physically care for the kitten yourself and the local shelter is full, reach out on social media to see if anyone would be able to help or has connections with further resources. You could also use a service like GoFundMe to help raise money for the cost of caring for the kitten. 

No matter what course of action you are able to take, these animals need people who care enough to even think about helping them in order to survive. So this kitten season, be on the lookout and try your best to do your part!