Avoid Being a Kit-Napper this Kitten Season!

Every day many kittens are taken from their mothers too soon – usually by accident. While human parents do a great job filling in the role of mom, kittens are going to be set up for success best when there are able to stay with their natural feline mother during the first 8 weeks of life! So, when you find kittens, these next steps can assist you in helping them in the best way possible. Sometimes the best choice is not to bring them to the shelter right away!
What to Do When You Find Kittens:
FIRST, identify if the kittens are in a safe place. Are there any threats around? (dogs, traffic, etc.)
• If you know there is a threat, move the kittens to a nearby, safer area so the mom can still find them, but they are safe from the threat. (On the other side of a fence, under a nearby structure, etc.) *Only move the kittens if necessary and keep them nearby so mom can find them! * Do not be a kit-napper!
• If the kittens are not in a safe place and unable to be moved to a safe place, you can contact Harbor Humane Society at (616)399-2119 EXT 119 we have options to help you trap their mother, and resources to help the kittens if need be!

NEXT, ask yourself, do the kittens look healthy?

Healthy kittens.

• Healthy kittens have clean fur and big bellies. If the kittens look healthy and there is no known threat where they are, leave them there! Sometimes it is hard because we are so used to intervening, but think of them during this time like you would a nest of baby birds. Mom is probably coming right back even if they are alone for a moment. If they look healthy and you leave them where they are, check for mom every few hours. Once you see the mom coming back, you can rest assured that the kittens are okay to stay. Cat moms are not likely to abandon their babies.

Sick kitten.

• Sickly kittens will be thin, dirty and possibly have crusty eyes or nasal discharge. You can sprinkle a circle of baking flour around the kitten “nest” to see if mom is still coming and going.If the kittens look sick or injured, or mom does not come back within 24 hours, then call Harbor Humane Society at (616)399-2119 EXT 119 or email us at office@harborhumane.org.

The last question to ask yourself when deciding to remove or leave the kittens is “how old are these kittens?”. See chart!
• Eyes still closed or just beginning to open: 1–2 weeks old. (Keep with mom if possible)
• Eyes open and alert, becoming mobile: 2–4 weeks old. (Keep with mom if possible)
• Very mobile and often talkative, can eat food: 4–6 weeks old. (Keep with mom if possible)
• Very active and playful, around 1–2 lbs: 6–8 weeks old (Contact Harbor Humane Society for next steps)
• Very active and playful, around 2 lbs or more: 8+ weeks old. (Contact Harbor Humane Society for next steps)
At 2 weeks old, kittens will be nursing every 4-6 hours. Mom will begin weaning them at 4 weeks and by 8 weeks, they should be fully weaned and can be adopted into their forever families. After 4+ weeks the kittens have a better survival rate without their mother and can be brought to the shelter to go into foster for socialization until they are old enough for adoption!
If you ever have any questions about what to do or how to help a mom and or kittens, please feel free to reach out to Harbor Humane Society at (616) 399-2119 or office@harborhumane.org we would love to help you figure out the next steps!
Thank you to staff member, Laura B., for her work on kit-napping content!