Unexpected things can happen every day that take you by surprise and leave you uncertain of what actions you should take. One surprising thing that may happen is finding a stray kitten and this is a situation that many people do not know how to handle. If you do find a stray kitten, you may be unsure as to whether to take them home, what you can feed them and if there is anybody you need to contact. Here is some guidance on what to do if you find a stray kitten.
Investigate the Situation
When you find one or more kittens, you need to first establish whether they are actually orphaned strays or if they have a mother. It is a mistake to take a kitten away from its mother while it is still nursing, so make sure you take the time to assess the situation. If the kittens are sleeping comfortably, then it is most likely that the mother is coming back. Check how many kittens there are and return again in a short while. If one is missing when you return, the most probable scenario is that the mother is trying to move them one at a time. One way of telling if the mother keeps returning to her kittens is to sprinkle flour around them and check for paw prints when you return. In a situation where the kittens do have a mother, you should leave them until they are eight weeks old before trying to move or capture them.
What if it Has a Mother?
If there is just one lone kitten, then the most likely scenario is that it has become separated from its mother or it is orphaned. In this situation, it may need your help. The first thing you need to do is catch the kitten. In most cases, this is easy. However, if you are struggling to catch the kitten then contact an animal shelter and they will use a humane trap.
Once you have caught the kitten, you should take it to the vet for a check-up. If the vets are closed and you are unable to care for the kitten overnight, get in touch with an animal shelter that has a no-kill policy. If you are willing to care for the cat overnight, then keep it warm in a box with a heated pad covering half the base of the box. It is important to leave one half uncovered so it can get away from the heat if necessary.
Feeding Stray Kittens
Feeding the kitten is essential for its survival. However, you cannot feed them in the same way as an adult cat as a young kitten would usually still be nursing. What and how often you feed a kitten depends on their age. If you are unsure of how old they are, the vet should give you some indication when you take it for a check-up. To feed the kitten, you will need to visit a pet store to buy kitten formula, bottles, rubber nipples, and cleaning supplies.
Under one week old, the kitten will need feeding every two hours and then every three hours between the ages of one and two weeks. From then until they are five weeks, they will need feeding the formula every four hours. At six weeks, you can introduce a mix of kitten kibble and wet food into their diet four times a day. By the time they are eight weeks, the kitten should be fully weaned.
Finding a New Home for the Cat
It is not always the best or most practical option to care for the kitten yourself, so you may need to find it a new home. Even if you are willing to care for the kitten in the short-term, you may not be able to provide a long-term home for the cat. Again, this means you will need to find the kitten a new home. So, how should you go about this? If you do not know of a responsible cat owner who is looking for a new cat, then you can contact your local animal shelter for advice and they may already have people waiting who want to provide a loving home for a kitten.