Found kittens outside and not sure what to do?
Everett Animal Shelter follows the ASPCA’s stance on community kittens. If you’ve found a litter of kittens and they appear healthy, dry, warm and have full bellies it’s more than likely they have a mother nearby looking for food or hiding from you. Momma cats will leave their babies for a few hours at a time to find food and water and will most likely not approach if you're standing nearby. Removing young kittens that are under 6 weeks of age from their mother dramatically reduces their chance of survival. Shelters are full and caring for kittens under 4-6 weeks of age is taxing on resources, plus no one can care for baby kittens like their mother!
The ASPCA’s website and Ifoundakitten.com are both great resources and can assist you in identifying the best approach to take if you do find young kittens outside. If you’ve found kittens, please monitor before removing them and it’s likely you’ll see mom return soon, as long she doesn’t feel threatened by your presence.
Things you can do:
- Leave out fresh water and food for mom to access
- Provide a safe and cozy shelter for mom to move her kittens to if she chooses
- Continue to monitor from a distance and don’t be surprised if mom moves her litter
Once the kittens are 6-8 weeks of age and eating on their own, you can prepare a Trap-Neuter-Return-Monitor plan for momma and her kittens that will help keep them out of the shelter, prevent them from reproducing and contributing to overpopulation and set them up for healthy lives as outdoor community cats. You can find more information on community cats on our website.
Don't see momma cat after monitoring? If after a couple days you do not see mom return and the kittens health declines, they may need help. Try to gauge their age using the images and descriptions below to help you make the best decision for these kittens.
Image credit: https://gatewaypets.org/
1-4 weeks old: Leave alone unless you've assessed the situation thoroughly and know their mom is not coming back or they are in immediate danger and/or they are wet, cold or sick. If they are in danger, they may need foster help – hopefully that foster is you! For detailed information on caring for young kittens, please visit Kitten Lady’s website. If momma cat is around the best thing to do is still to leave them alone.
4-6 weeks old: The shelter can usually accommodate these kittens as they can eat on their own and their chances of survival without their mother is much higher by this age. Generally kittens at this age are running around playfully, eating food and very talkative. If they are healthy and happy and momma cat is around, the best thing to do is still to leave them alone.
6+ weeks old: By this age these kittens may be candidates for a Trap-Neuter-Return program and you should consider reaching out to our partner organizations who can help. The Community Cat Coalition provides resources for Trap-Neuter-Return programs and help caring for community cats. The Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project operates a free or low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Lynnwood. These programs are highly beneficial as they allow cats to receive services without having to be admitted to a shelter.
If you have found young kittens and have determined they are indeed in need of intervention and are unable to foster them yourself, please first determine if EAS is the correct shelter for your area by consulting the list below and before removing them from their environment. If the kittens are from one of these areas please submit an online found report to set up an appointment to bring them in. For urgent situations, please call 425-257-6000 and press 0 to reach a staff member.
|Gold Bar||Lake Stevens||Monroe||Unincorporated Snohomish County|
If you have any questions, please call 425-257-6000 or contact us by email.