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What To Do If You Find a Stray Kitten

May 16, 2012 by Tails Magazine in Rescue with 2 Comments

The kitten experts over at Alley Cat Allies offer some very helpful advice for first steps in dealing with stray kittens:

Realize that you’re facing an important decision–caring for a feral kitten takes time and patience. Some kittens may need medical intervention, or may be too young to be removed from their mother’s care.

  • Do you have the time to take care of and socialize a kitten? Caring for a feral kitten requires multiple hours a day of one-on-one attention for weeks, or sometimes even months.
  • Do you have the proper connections and network to find the kitten a new home? Are you willing or able to keep it?
  • How old is this kitten? Alley Cat Allies recommends that feral kittens older than 4 months of age be allowed to stay with their colony, and need not be taken in and socialized. Instead, kittens older than 4 months should be neutered, vaccinated, and then returned to their outdoor homes.

The organization offers these helpful tips for determining a kitten’s age:

  • Under one week: (3-8 oz) Eyes are shut, ears are folded down, and kittens are unable to walk. They can purr and make tiny noises. The umbilical cord may still be visible.
  • One-two weeks: (8-11 oz) Eyes start to open (they are blue) and focus. Ears begin to open and movement is improved to crawling, snuggling, and kneading.
  • Three weeks: (7.5-14.5 oz) Eyes fully open and ears are open and standing up. The kitten will start to respond to noises and movement. The first wobbly steps are taken and baby teeth start to come in.
  • Four-five weeks: (8-16.75 oz) Running, playing, digging, and pouncing occur often. Kittens will start to wean and will be able to lap up formula, eat soft food, and use the litter box by themselves. Eyes have fully changed from blue to their adult color.
  • Eight weeks: (2 lbs) Kittens look like little versions of full-grown cats.

Alley Cat Allies has some great articles on other steps of the process, such as how to deal with different trapping scenarios, how to care for neonatal kittens, and how to socialize feral kittens.

If you find a feral kitten or kittens and cannot care for them yourself, call your local animal services office–they will be able to connect you with an animal shelter that can care for the kittens.

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