It’s kitten season! From spring to fall, cats are much more likely to give birth, so you may see kittens outside. Ask yourself:

  • How old are the kittens (see the graphic here for help guessing their age!)
  • Are they in a sheltered area?
  • Do they look healthy? 
  • Is the mom around?
How old is that kitten? Chart to determine kitty's age, by Ally Cat Allies

Credit: Ally Cat Allies

If the kittens are less than 5 weeks old, it’s usually in their best interest to leave them with mom! The survival rate is much lower for kittens separated from mom before they are old enough to feed themselves. Mom also helps them stay clean and go potty. Leave them be; any efforts to interact with or hold the kittens, or adding things to the kitten den often cause the mom to move her babies, and you may not get another chance to bring them if they eventually need it. The best thing to do at this point is to just leave food and water out near by for the mom.

The only time kittens should be brought in before 5 weeks of age is:

  • If they appear sick or abnormally skinny
  • If they are not in the den but laying out in the open
  • If the mother has abandoned them or died
  • If the mother is friendly and can easily be taken to foster with the kittens

The mother can be gone for a few hours at a time to find food, so keeping an eye on the kittens to see if mom will return can take several hours of watching. It is also helpful to know if the mother is unsocial or friendly. Feral/unsocial cats are very skittish and will not approach people, and they usually do not meow like a domestic cat would. In this case, once the kittens are safely taken in, it is best to TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) mom to make sure she doesn’t have more kittens.

If the kittens are between 5-8 weeks, then bringing them to HSHV for foster care and adoption is the best option. At this age, they are still young enough to be socialized to people and will likely make great companion animals! Getting the kittens in is time sensitive, since the opening between being old enough to be remove from mom and getting too old to be socialized can be as short as a few weeks. Since time is limited, we highly encourage people to try and capture the kittens themselves. Humanely live trapping is usually the best way to get the kittens since at this age since they can be too fast to catch with your hands, and their teeth and claws are very sharp. It is best to try to get all the kittens at the same time, as if you miss some they may get frightened and run away to find a new place to hide!

Need help catching and bringing kittens to HSHV? Have more questions? Contact our TNR team at or  (734) 661-3523. We are always ready to help animals in need!