Kittens are very vulnerable to accident, predation, and disease. They should not be left outside if possible. Every day they remain outside they are also growing more feral (wild). It becomes increasingly difficult to socialize kittens that are more than 8-12 weeks old. Bring kittens inside now and begin socializing them. If possible, do not separate nursing kittens from their mother. If the mother cat is friendly, bring them all inside. If the mother cat is feral, kittens can safely be removed from the mother cat when they are weaned, at about 4 weeks of age. (Once the kittens are removed, be sure to get the mother cat spayed so that you will not have more kittens later. Click here to go to our TNR page for information.)
The mother cat and kittens can be kept in a spare bedroom, bathroom, basement. Keep in mind that this is only temporary until you can place them with a rescue. Keep the cats separate from any pet cats that you have in order to prevent disruption to your pets. You would also want to keep them separate from your pets until you can have the stray cat and kittens checked by your vet.
Realize that very young kittens (generally up to around 6 wks) require specialized care if they are not nursing with the mother cat. If not cared for properly, their condition can turn quickly and they can die.
Here are some links which may be helpful:
Caring for Neonatal Kittens - click here
Hand-rearing kittens - click here
Socializing feral kittens - click here
The age of kittens can be approximated as follows -
-Under one week: Eyes shut, ears flat to head, skin looks pinkish. Part of umbilical cord may still be attached. Weight < 4oz.
-1 week-10 days: Eyes beginning to open, ears still flat. A kitten this age is smaller than your hand. 4 to 6oz weight.
-2 weeks: Eyes open bright blue color, kittens will crawl a bit on their tummies,and basically just sleep and nurse. No teeth yet. 6 to 8oz. weight.
-3 weeks: Eyes are fully open, ears are erect, teeth are becoming visible, may just be begining to come through the gums Kittens this age are just starting to walk and will be very wobbly. 8 to 12 oz weight
-4-5 weeks: Kittens have begun to pounce and leap. Kittens this age will begin to eat regular cat food, and will begin to use a litter box. They are still quite small at this age. they will weigh anywhere from 1/2 lb to 1 lb.
-6-7 weeks Kittens are quite active and weigh about 1 pound to 1 an 1/2 pounds Their eye color, changes from Blue to it's permanent color. May still be friendly and approach people. Very playful at this stage.
-8 weeks: Kittens this age weigh approximately 1 and 1/2 pounds to 2 pounds. If they have not been exposed to humans, they will likely be feral and unapproachable.
For pictures of kittens to help you estimate their age - click here.
If you want Stray Cat Blues to check our foster homes to see if any of them have space to take in the mother cat and kittens, click here to submit an Intake Request. We ask if you have photos of the kittens that you email them also to email@example.com.
Be aware that particularly during kitten season, the local SPCA facilities are full to overflowing. They must sadly euthanize cats and kittens due to space restrictions. So please take this into account before surrendering cats and kittens to such facilities.
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