Found kittens

Determining if kittens have been abandoned by their mother requires careful observation and consideration of several factors. Here are the key signs to look for:

Extended Absence of the Mother

  • Watch the kittens from a distance for several hours (ideally 4-6 hours). Mother cats typically return to their kittens frequently to nurse and care for them.
  • If you don’t see the mother cat return within this period, it may be a sign that she is not coming back.


Condition of the Kittens

  • Feel the kittens’ bodies. Abandoned kittens will often be cold to the touch because they rely on their mother for warmth.
  • Check their bellies. If they appear thin or have wrinkled skin, they may not have been fed recently.
  • Kittens that are dirty or have matted fur might not have been groomed by their mother recently.
  • Do they appear sick or injured?


 Behavior of the Kittens

  • Hungry and distressed kittens will cry frequently. If they are vocalizing constantly and loudly, they are likely hungry and missing their mother.
  • Very weak, lethargic kittens may not have had nourishment or care for some time.


 Surrounding Environment

  • If the kittens are in a dangerous or highly exposed area (e.g., near a busy road, in harsh weather conditions), the mother might not be returning.
  • Kittens found in abandoned buildings or isolated spots may have been left without maternal care.


Physical Signs of the Mother

  • Look for signs that the mother has been around recently, such as fresh paw prints or scat.
  • Unfortunately, if you find a dead adult cat nearby, the kittens might be orphaned.


 Immediate Needs

  • If the kittens are in immediate danger from predators, weather, or other hazards, it is important to intervene regardless of the potential for the mother to return.


Monitoring and Decision-Making

  • It’s important to emphasize that a kitten’s best chance for survival is with its mother, so wait and watch for as long as you safely can.
  • If you determine the kittens are abandoned, provide a heat source immediately:  a hot water bottle,  heated sock filled with rice, holding the kitten against your body.
  • Avoid feeding a kitten until it is warm since it cannot digest the food, and only feed foods formulated specifically for kittens.
  • Reach our for help from knowledgable resources.


If you find kittens you suspect  have been abandoned, call or text at 250-537-7567. Orphaned kittens require prompt intervention and specialized care.