SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

What to do if you find a litter of kittens?

Staying with mum is best

Young kittens need intense support with eating, grooming, toileting, and socialising. The kittens’ mother is best suited to provide for these needs. People sometimes mistakenly believe kittens are orphaned but the mother cat may be getting food or hiding while she waits for you to leave. When people intervene to help kittens they find without a mother, they may not realise that the mother cat may only be absent temporarily and will return to raise her babies. Separating young kittens from their mother risks to the kittens’ survival, as these kittens require skilled, round-the-clock care. If kittens are healthy and appear clean and plump, their mum is likely taking good care of them.

SPCA cat with newborn litter of kittens

Check if mum is caring for them

If the kittens look well-fed and healthy, we recommend you leave the kittens where they are and periodically check to see if the mother returns in a few hours. If the kittens are in immediate danger, for example in an active construction site or within reach of dogs, move them to a nearby location where the mother can still find them.

If the kittens are orphaned, sick or injured, they need urgent care

For orphaned, sick or injured kittens, you should immediately contact a veterinarian or your local SPCA Centre. If the mother cat is around, she should also be trapped as she will need to be desexed (to prevent future litters of kittens being born) and may need additional care.

If kittens are heathy, support them and their mother

Some mother cats may not be well socialised to humans and it may be very stressful for them to come into an SPCA Centre to raise their kittens. You can become their guardian and help her to raise her kittens where she is by providing food and a safe space in a garden shed, garage or home. This also provides opportunities to socialise kittens and to monitor their health and development.

Contact your local SPCA Centre to plan for trapping the kittens once they are mobile and eating solid food. They can then be desexed, microchipped and find loving homes.

It is important to trap and desex mum as well as the kittens to stop the cycle of unwanted litters. SPCA can help you with this. SPCA runs regular desexing campaigns for owned pets, and work with local rescue organisations to desex stray cats in our community. You can read more about desexing

Consider fostering

Kittens benefit enormously from spending time in a home environment. If you are interested in helping to get kittens off to the best possible start to their lives, please consider fostering.

Foster carers give kittens a safe, temporary home to recover, grow and show them what it is like to live in a home. SPCA provides the food, vet treatment and support. You can help save the life of a kitten by becoming an SPCA Foster Parent today.

During kitten season, we are in desperate need of foster parents for both neonatal “bottle baby” kittens and older kittens.

Litter of SPCA foster kittens
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