What to do when you find outdoor kittens?
Don’t Kit-nap Them!
When we find baby animals outside, our first instinct is to help. Thankfully, with kittens, it’s usually not necessary to intervene and “kit-nap” the litter. In fact, mom’s care is critical for their survival! If you’re worried about the kittens’ safety, simply observe from a safe distance and check back every hour up to 8 hours.
If mom returns, leave them alone! Her milk, warmth, and knowledge are going to help these kittens survive and thrive later on as grown cats. If mom does not return after 8 hours, the kittens will need your help.
If the kittens appear to be in danger
As long as the kittens are in a safe place, do not move them. When waiting, be sure to assess the situation.
The only exceptions are:
- The kittens are in a dangerous area
- The weather is poor
- The kittens are in danger from other animals
If any of those situations apply, they will need moved ASAP. Still, try to move them to a safer location nearby, just in case mom comes back.
Finding outdoor kittens
When you discover kittens outdoors, it can be tempting to scoop them up and bring them indoors. However, it is important to know that this is almost never in a kitten’s best interest. Download our flowchart to see what you do if you find a kitten.
If mom returns
- If possible, it is best for mom to stay with the kittens until they are weaned. Provide them a safe area with a warm shelter and regular food for mom. Be careful attempting to handle mom. If she is feral, do not intervene.
- If mom is friendly, or an owned cat, keep inside in a safe area. Still be cautious, as moms can be protective of their babies even if they are usually friendly
- Once the kittens become mobile and eat on their own it is ideal to work on finding a foster for them.
If mom does not return
- Consider being a foster parent! Set them up in an enclosed space in your home and we’ll provide you with a foster care kit including food, bedding, supplies, and more.
- If there is someone you know that is willing to take care of them until they are of adoptable age (8 weeks, or 2 lbs.), then they can also help.
Bringing the kittens to the shelter may seem like an obvious choice, but their chance of survival is much higher in a home, where they’re protected from stress and disease.
Plan to keep the kittens?
If you are able to care for the kittens, we recommend the following resources:
- Call HSVB Foster department at (772) 388-3331
- Kitten Care Instructional Videos by the Kitten Lady
- Determining a Kitten’s Age by the Kitten Lady
- Guide to Raising Underage Kittens by UC Davis’ Koret Shelter Medicine Program
6230 77th Street
Vero Beach, FL 32967
Monday – Friday
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our Pet Help Team.