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How To Tell If Kittens Are Abandoned

Hello, my name is Tricia K. I currently own 3 cats, Bubba is 5, Firefly (aka Bug) is 3, and Scrappy is 7/8 months old. I have been volunteering for a rescue called “Lost Paws of Lancaster” for about 3 years, fostering for about 2 years. I have worked at That Fish Place – That Pet Place for almost 2 years as a cashier. I enjoy learning new things about all animals and applying what I learn to help others.image

When you volunteer for a cat rescue, the season of spring is more commonly known as “Kitten Season”. This is the time of year that we begin getting phone calls asking us to take in pregnant or nursing moms and their litters of kittens. The more common call, however, is for “abandoned kittens.” I put quotes around it because more often than not the kittens aren’t really abandoned.

Unlike human children, who are rarely without a parent in sight, kittens can be left alone for hours at a time and the mom usually isn’t far off. In fact, mom may even be watching you. People often don’t realize this and tend to automatically assume that mom has left the litter to starve. They then decide to take things into their own hands and “help” which isn’t always in the best interest of the kittens.

 

How To Tell If Kittens Are Abandoned & Need Your Help

  • Unless the kittens are in immediate danger, don’t move them. Mom may just be out getting some dinner, or taking a break. (You’d need to take a breather too if you had so many babies at once!). If you have to move them, make sure it is nearby where mom can see or hear them calling for her.
  • Keep an eye on the nest from a distance for 12 to 18 hours to determine if they’re truly abandoned. Depending on how old the kittens are, moms can stay away for hours at a time. It can be hard to tell if mom slips in and out when you aren’t looking. A way to help tell if the mom has returned is to sprinkle flour around the area. If mom comes back she will leave paw prints in the powder.
  • Don’t be alarmed if some of the kittens go missing. This is probably a good sign. Active Moms will move their kittens from place to place if they feel they are in danger.
  • If hours pass and the babies are dirty, fussy and loud, it is safe to consider them abandoned. It’s important to remember to wait an appropriate amount of time and to stay calm. A lot of people panic and want to scoop the kittens up and care for them right away. However, caring for kittens, especially young ones that don’t eat solid food, is a lot of work that most people aren’t prepared to take on. It is also more dangerous for kittens growing up without a mom and the comfort and milk she provides. Whenever possible, keep mom in the picture.

What if Mom Doesn’t Return? What now?20150502_220009

  • If you have truly abandoned kittens, and you are not prepared to take on the responsibilities of motherhood, feel free to call your local rescues. Please keep in mind that kitten season is a very busy time of year. Rescues exhaust their resources very quickly and you may be declined. Fosters for bottle babies (kittens without mommas that cannot eat solid food yet) are always in short supply because they are a lot of work.
  • If you are able to foster the litter the rescues may have a waiting list that you can be put on to help your kittens and lighten your load.

Even if the rescues can’t take in your litter they may have tips and tricks to make your go at being a momma cat much easier.

This Kitten season, Please be patient and do what you can to help appropriately. While it’s hard to resist a pile of adorable, cuddly kittens, letting Mom handle their care is sometimes the best option.

 

Bouncing Baby Bunnies – Wild Rabbits in the Spring

We all know that Spring is prime time for many wild animals to bring their babies into the world. We can see new fawns, bear cubs, hatchling birds, and many other new arrivals soon after they make their way into the world. Last year Frank Indiviglio wrote an article on “orphaned” babies in the Spring and what to do (or not do) about them, but one animal that may require a little more info is one of the most common babies found in backyards this time of year…baby rabbits, or “kits”.

People often mistake young rabbits as helpless and abandoned, ususally because their found alone and in the open. Several times each year we have patrons that present us with wild rabbits they come across while mowing the lawn, or that were discovered by the family dog or cat and rescued before becoming a mid-morning snack. While people have the best of intentions, removing the babies from the area where they are found often creates even more of a problem for the little guys. Read More »

Pot-Bellied Pigs – The Other House Pet

Mature Potbelly PigWhen thinking of house pets, pigs may not immediately come to mind. Most often we associate pigs with kid’s movies, farms, mud, and…bacon. However a few species of domesticated pig have grown in popularity considerably since the 1980’s, when people began to keep for a new kind of house pet. A pet that would be intelligent, affectionate, easy to train, and above all, clean. The new trend would turn heads…Potbelly Pigs! A few weeks ago I saw one of these little critters first hand, on the end of a harness, proudly strutting down the dog toy aisle with his short tail a-waggin’, and I had to stop and gawk. I will admit pigs have always intimidated me because of their large size and loud vocalizations, but after getting to know a few pigs first hand and doing a little reading, I must admit the thought of having one is pretty appealing. Let me share with you a little about the care of the most popular type of pig, the Pot-belly. Read More »

Animal Shelter Volunteers – Having Fun While Helping Creatures In Need

Animal fans often have difficulty finding hands-on animal work, and most animal shelters are underfunded and cannot hire enough help.  Volunteering at a shelter is, therefore, a win-win situation….as most who have volunteered at anything will attest, the helper benefits as much as the “helped”.

Typical Volunteer Duties

Hands-on animal work at shelters may involve walking, grooming or bathing dogs, cleaning cages and preparing food.  Many volunteers find interacting with dogs, parrots, cats and other animals in need of human contact to be a very pleasurable aspect of their experience.  In doing so, they make the residents’ stay more pleasant, and fulfill their desire for close contact with a variety of creatures.

People with other skills can often help out in office work, fund-raising or educational programs. Read More »

Rural Rejects – Unwanted Pets and How They Found Love

I grew up in the country, rural Northeastern Pennsylvania to be exact. Raised on a beautiful 30 acre farmette, my family always had animals from cats and dogs to poultry, llamas, sheep, horses, and lots of others. It was hobby farming, no production other than new babies in the spring and hayfields to harvest for winter feeding. Over the years our little farm became the home to many pets tossed out along the roadside and left to their fate by others far less compassionate towards them. While from origins unknown, more than one of these unfortunate animals found a place in our hearts and home. Read More »

It’s Spring…Here Come the “Orphaned” Wild Animal Babies!

Frank and Wallaby
Once you acquire the reputation of being a skilled pet-keeper (or of having a soft heart!), springtime may bring with it requests from well-meaning folks that you care for “abandoned” animal babies they have found.  In my long experience as a wildlife rehabilitator I have raised Flying Squirrels, Opossums, Raccoons, Muskrats and many other furry friends (the oddest being a Star-Nosed Mole!) – very rewarding work, but not to be taken on lightly. Read More »

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