Let Mom and Kittens Thrive Outside
When someone finds a tiny kitten meowing under their porch or even a whole litter of kittens huddled under a bush outdoors, they may want to help immediately but not know what to do.
Compassion is a good impulse, but our actions must always be guided by what is in a cat’s best interest. That means allowing kittens and moms who are already thriving outdoors to stay right where they are.
The truth is, in nearly all cases, kittens outdoors don’t need to be “rescued.” In fact, removing kittens from their mothers and bringing them indoors can be detrimental to their wellbeing. If you see kittens alone, their mother is likely close by—and her instincts make her their best possible caregiver.
The best thing you can do is LEAVE THEM BE.
Please share the information on this page with your friends, family, neighbors, and anyone in your community who finds kittens outdoors. By spreading awareness to Leave Them Be, we can save kittens’ lives.
For a quick way to educate others, share this graphic on social media:
There’s a reason that phrase is a key nugget of wisdom—especially in the world of animals.
No matter how many years of experience we gain bottle-feeding and raising kittens, we will NEVER be able to match a mother cat’s instinctual form of care. Plus, it takes monumental efforts on our part to provide the round-the-clock care that unweaned and neonatal kittens (kittens under 4 weeks old) need to survive.
A mother cat who lives outdoors knows just how to protect her kittens and doesn’t need our intervention. Give her a few basic essentials (shelter and food and water) and then let her do her job. Leave Them Be until the kittens are no longer nursing (meaning they are weaned), when they are around 8 weeks old.
If you find kittens outdoors without their mother, do not assume they don’t have one. Watch for a few hours from a hidden spot to see if mom returns. She is likely out looking for food, is in the process of moving her kittens, or is just taking a little break.
How Can I Help?
You can help kittens by providing their mother with essentials like:
- Regular food and water. Get the details at alleycat.org/BestPractices.
- An outdoor shelter. Find options at alleycat.org/ShelterGallery.
- Peace and quiet. Keep an eye on mother and kittens but leave them be.
Learn more about finding mother and kittens outdoors, including how to help them with Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), at alleycat.org/MomAndKittens.