Found Stray Kittens

The next step isn’t simply taking them home with you…

Here’s what to do next.

When we find a litter of kittens, our good-hearted instincts tell us to rush to their aid. However, one of the biggest mistakes people make when finding stray kittens is taking them away from their mothers. Kittens are much better off with their mothers and, thankfully, human intervention is usually not required right away.

mom with kittens

Helping orphaned kittens will first require some detective work.

Assess the situation:

  1. Are the kittens sleeping comfortably? If yes, the mother is probably coming back.
  2. When you recheck on them, are any of them missing? If yes, the mother is probably moving them.
  3. If they’re often found sleeping, then the mother has been caring for them.
  4. To be absolutely sure that their mother is caring for them, sprinkle some flour around where the kittens are located and look for paw prints upon your return. If the mother is in the picture, let them be for now.

If the mother does not return:

The best thing you can do is to leave the kittens with their mother. By remaining with mom they will receive the proper nutrition, mom will protect them, and she will train them to survive outdoors until they’re old enough to be brought to our shelter. Only take the kittens if, after at least 8 hours of observation, you are 100% certain the mother is not returning. If you watch and the mother does not return, the kittens will need immediate care in order to survive.

Fostering stray kittens:

If you are able to foster the stray kittens, great! Kittens stay healthier when they’re cared for in a foster home setting. They’re less stressed and more behaviorally sound.

If you are interested in fostering the stray kittens, but would like assistance, contact Winnebago County Animal Services at 815-319-4100.

Containing and monitoring the kittens is key to their health and well-being. A dog crate is perfect. To keep them nice and warm, place a covered heating pad or warmed rice sock in their crate and keep the room temperature at 75 degrees. The heating source should cover only half the crate so they can get away if need be. Watch for panting- you don’t want them to get overheated either. A cold or limp kitten indicates a medical emergency.

You will need to keep the kittens fed every few hours. They will need to be fed with a kitten milk replacer (KMR) formula.

Only bottle-feed kittens with their belly touching the table, never while on their back. Experts recommend letting the kitten eat the warmed-up formula until they’re full. It usually takes less than 15 minutes.kittens

 

Containing and monitoring the kittens is key to their health and well-being. A dog crate is perfect. To keep them nice and warm, place a covered heating pad or warmed rice sock in their crate and keep the room temperature at 75 degrees. The heating source should cover only half the crate so they can get away if need be. Watch for panting- you don’t want them to get overheated either. A cold or limp kitten indicates a medical emergency.

You will need to keep the kittens fed every few hours. They will need to be fed with a kitten milk replacer (KMR) formula.bottle feed kitten

Only bottle-feed kittens with their belly touching the table, never while on their back.  Experts recommend letting the kitten eat the warmed-up formula until they’re full. It usually takes less than 15 minutes.

Kittens will need help eliminating urine and feces until they are approximately a month old. After each feeding, use a warm, damp washcloth or cotton ball to gently rub their anus until they go. You can introduce a litter box filled with non-clumping litter at 3 weeks old.Kitten needing potty

 

How to determine age so you know how much to feed the kittens:

Determining the age of the stray kitten right away is imperative. Their age will mandate what they’ll eat as well as how much and how often.

Using a kitchen scale, here is a quick guide to determine age and feeding schedule.

  • Under 1 week old-
    • Weight – less than 4 ounces
    • Feeding Schedule – Formula every 2 – 3 hourskitten one week

    • 7 to 10 days old-
      • Weight – between 4 – 6 ounces
      • Feeding Schedule – Formula every 2 – 3 hourskitten 2 3 weeks

      • 10 to 14 days old-
        • Weight – between 6 to 8 ounces
        • Feeding Schedule – Formula every 3 hoursKitten every 3 hours

      • 14 to 21 days old-
        • Weight – between 8 to 12 ounces
        • Feeding Schedule – Formula every four hourskitten every four hours

      • 4 to 5 weeks old-
        • Weight – between 12 ounces to 1 pound
        • Feeding Schedule – Feed mix of gruel/formula/kitten kibble every four hourskitten 4 5 weeks

      • 6 to 7 weeks old-
        • Weight – 1 pound to 1 pound & 8 ounces
        • Feeding Schedule – Feed mix of kitten kibble and wet food four times a day

      This kitten is old enough to be brought to WCAS.kitten 6 7 weeks

      • 8 weeks old-
        • Weight – 1 ½ pounds to 2 pounds
        • Fully weaned

      This kitten is old enough to be brought to WCAS.kitten find a home

Find a home for the kittens:

Once the kittens are 6 weeks old, they can be brought to Winnebago County Animal Services. Our team will examine them, spay or neuter them, if ready, and make them available for adoption.

If you’re unable to foster kittens:

If you cannot foster the stray kittens for any amount of time and you are a Winnebago County resident, you can contact Winnebago County Animal Services for assistance information at 815-319-4100.

 

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Winnebago County Animal Services
4517 North Main Street
Rockford, IL 61103
P: 815-319-4100
F: 815-319-4101

Shelter Hours:
Monday: 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday-Friday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday: CLOSED
*Please note, all adoptions end 30 minutes prior to closing.

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