By Marisa Valent-Altland
Last week we shared with you how to evaluate what to do with a cat found outdoors. This week we want to share what you should do if you find a kitten. The Kitten Lady has an excellent acronym to help you know what to do if you find a kitten. Ask yourself: Should I bring this cat into my CASA? Use the CASA acronym to assess the situation.
Condition: If a kitten is in good condition, it has been cared for by its mother recently. A kitten in good condition is clean and alert, chunky and well-fed, and not in distress. This means the kitten’s mother is probably right around the corner and you should leave the kitten to be with its mother. If a kitten is in bad condition, it will be dirty or covered in waste, visibly underweight, and may be visibly in a medical crisis. These kittens are not with their mother and need intervention!
Age: A kitten’s age can help you determine if it needs intervention. A kitten 0-5 weeks old (uncoordinated, closed or blue eyes, un-weaned) should be kept with its mother. Try to trap the mother and keep the kittens together. A kitten 5-12 weeks old (playful, able to run, able to eat food independently) is in its socialization window and is the perfect age to be fostered and socialized for adoption. A kitten older than 12 weeks (no longer nursing, lanky body) is difficult to socialize if feral and will most likely respond best to TNR treatment.
Situation: If the mother is present and the family has food and shelter, these kittens are safe. Intervention is not strictly necessary. If no one is caring for the kitten and/or the kitten is exposed to extreme weather or hazards, this situation is unsafe and you should definitely intervene.
Ability: Your ability and the community recourses available to you affect how you should respond. If you can provide foster care or if a local organization (like the Feline Connection!) has the resources, you should intervene to help the kitten. If you do not have the resources and the kitten is safe, you may leave them outside and keep an eye on them to further evaluate in the future.
Check out this graphic from the Kitten Lady for a quick look at what to do when you find a kitten!
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