Assess the Situation














When you see a tiny kitten, it’s natural to want to scoop them up and get them out of harm’s way. But it can also be life threatening for the kitten. Most people think the closest municipal shelter is a safe place. Most people believe the kittens will be cared for, bottle fed, and have all their needs met. For the vast majority of shelters, this isn’t the case. Even during times without a pandemic, even in a shelter is No-Kill and has a kitten nursery, survival is not guaranteed. A kitten’s best chances are with her/his mom. It’s best to take time to assess the situation.

Step 1: Assess if the area is safe.

  • Are the kittens away from the street? Are they in a secluded area? Are they away from cars and foot traffic?
  • If so, the kittens may not need to be moved.
  • Are the kittens near a street? Are they in a parking lot? Are they in an area where people could walk over them? Are they exposed to the elements? If so, they kittens will need to be moved.

Step 2: Determine if the kittens may be orphaned.

  • Kittens that are being cared for by their mom look much different than orphaned kittens.
  • Are the kittens: Clean? Dry? Warm? Quiet? Plump with full looking, light pink bellies? If so, these kittens are probably not orphaned. Mother Cat is probably just out searching for food!
  • Are the kittens: Dirty? Wet? Thin? Cold? Meowing / Crying a lot? Do the kittens have discharge around their eyes or nose? If so, these kittens are more than likely orphaned, which means they need you!

Step 3: WAIT!

We know this is the hardest part, but if the kittens seem okay, you need to give it some time to see if the mother cat will come back.

  • If the kittens appear healthy and are in a safe area, wait 2-4 hours to see if mother cat returns.
  • If the kittens appear healthy and are not in a safe area, move them to a secure place NEARBY so mother cat can find them, and wait 2-4 hours to see if mother cat returns.
  • Leave wet cat food and water out for mother cat.
  • If the kittens do not appear healthy, and if they look orphaned based on the criteria above, they need you NOW! If they have been alone for awhile, your intervention could be the difference between life and death!

We know you want to do best by these sweet little babies. Taking some time to determine if these kittens need you is crucial to their well-being. Most importantly, do not take these kittens to the shelter! Their best chance of survival is with their mom, but if mom is no longer around, their best chance for survival is with YOU!