“Kit-napping’ happens every year in the spring and summer. When we find a litter of kittens, it is natural to be concerned. Our animal-loving instincts tell us they may be abandoned and in need of help. However, in most cases removing the kittens is not the best response and doing so may end up putting them in even greater danger. Human intervention is typically not required. In fact, taking otherwise healthy kittens away from mother cats, can increase their mortality rate up to 40%.
Mom will likely return shortly, and it’s critical that the kittens remain in her care, as she offers the best chance for survival. Her milk has important antibodies for her kittens to build their immune system with, she keeps their body temperature regulated, and also stimulates them manually to go to the bathroom. Mother cat may be off searching for food, or to find a more suitable location to move the family. If the kittens are not in obvious danger and appear cozy and clean, simply leave the area. Don’t hide nearby, because the mother cat is likely watching you and can see and smell your presence. If you find kittens that are in immediate danger, you can move them to a safe area away from direct sun, rain or traffic, like a bush, that is close enough for mother cat to still find. Contrary to popular belief, a mother cat will not “reject” her kittens because of human scent.
If the kittens are sick or injured, or, after 12 – 14 hours you have determined the mother cat will not return, you can pick them up and opt to become their surrogate caretaker. Shelters and rescues are often inundated every spring and summer with well meaning people bringing kittens into the shelter, but they often do not have staffing or resources to help. The best thing you can do if you decide to take neonatal kittens from outside is become their caretaker until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered/vaccinated and adopted. If you do attempt to feed any kittens, do not feed cow’s milk – you must use special kitten milk called Kitten Milk Replacer. Before you feed them, be sure that the kittens are warm. If they’re cold and look hungry, warm up the kitten first or they could face life-threatening complications. Newborn kittens are fragile and require very specific care in order to ensure their survival. Before taking kittens from outside, we encourage you to do your research and visit the resources below. The Fredericksburg SPCA is not currently set up with a Kitten Nursery, however, we are working towards being able to offer resources to those who decide to rescue kittens from outside. We get hundreds of intake requests, so while we may not be able to intake a kitten at a certain time, we have compiled a robust list of resources and are happy to provide what we can. When we are able to intake kittens, we encourage those who take kittens in from outside to sign up as a foster, and offer to care for the kittens until they are old enough for adoption, or can be placed in another foster. We are able to provide supplies, as well as support when we have dedicated foster homes to place an animal in.
If you find abandoned kittens and want to help them, the best thing that you can do is foster! Mom & Babies, or orphaned kittens do not need much space and can often be housed in a bathroom away from other pets. We host monthly trainings for fosters and have a robust foster community of staff and volunteers for support. We have a number of opportunities to foster kittens that come into our shelter such as:
We accept 500-600 kittens into our care every year, and as you can imagine that takes a toll on our resources. As a 501c3, our funding and supplies come from the generous donations from the public. Donations to our Kitten Foster Program allow us to provide supplies to our Fred Foster Fam who care for the shelter’s most vulnerable population.
Donations may be dropped off at 10819 Courthouse Rd, Fredericksburg VA, 22408 or purchased directly from our Amazon Kitten WishList: