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Finding Kittens Outdoors
It can happen while trapping or just enjoying the great outdoors – you hear the tiny mews of outdoor kittens.
Your first instinct might be to scoop them up and take them home, but that may not be what’s best for the kittens. There’s lots to consider when deciding if a kitten should be brought indoors. It’s important to remember: Not every outdoor kitten needs saving.
Some outdoor kittens may be sick or injured, and need to be brought to a veterinarian as soon as possible. But healthy kittens can take a turn for the worse if they’re brought indoors when they’re still too young to leave their mother.
Remember: The best place for kittens is with mom. Don’t try to separate kittens younger than 8 weeks old from their mother unless there is a medical emergency. For more information on how to proceed in specific scenarios, visit our TNR Scenarios: Mom and Kittens page.
In the end, you just have to use your best judgment. You should also consider these three things before taking kittens in:
- Time: Kitten socialization is very time-consuming – it involves caring for them one-on-one for at least a couple of hours every day, and can go on longer than a month. If the kittens are neonatal, they will need even more care, including bottle feeding. The last thing you want is to bring a kitten indoors that you don’t have time to socialize, and then find that they are unadoptable.
- Adoption Connections: Once the kittens are socialized, they’ll need good homes. Check out our tips on promoting a cat for adoption and finding the best forever home.
- Kitten age: Our How Old is That Kitten? resource will help you figure out a kitten’s age. If kittens are 4 months or older, they are fine to stay outdoors and live happy, healthy lives with their colony. We don’t recommend socializing kittens older than this. Instead, they should be neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their outdoor home.
Also consider looking for Feral Friends in your area. These are people, organizations, and veterinarians that may be able to help you if you find kittens.