Kittens are these wide eyed little cuties with whiskers that can make your head explode into candy but seeing an abandoned one can be a heartbreaking sight. It takes a lot of willpower to not pick up a cute kitty off the sidewalk and give it a warm home. However, it may be in the cat’s best interest that you leave it to be – at least for a while. Here’s how to decide whether to make an abandoned kitten a family pet.
Is it really abandoned?
Often, mother cats go scouring for food for hours on end. Or they may be shifting their entire litter to another area. In both these cases, they will eventually come back looking for their kitten, so removing them from the area may do it harm. Young kittens are delicate and best taken care of by their mothers.
Wait and watch
Instead of approaching the kitten, wait it out to see whether it is really abandoned. Stand some distance away from the cat so that if the mother comes back she is not wary of your presence and avoids returning. A distance of more than 30 feet should suffice. Or you could come back later to check. In case you have to go, check whether the kitten is in any danger, such as if it is located near a busy road or if it is raining heavily. Keep in mind that most kittens are able to go hours without food if they are in a safe and warm place. If it is very cold or rainy, the time you spend waiting for the mother cat should be shorter as kittens can die of hypothermia.
If it’s not abandoned
You should not adopt cats younger than six weeks old. So if the mother does come back, you’ll have to wait till it’s old enough before you plan to adopt it. You could ensure that the litter and the mother are healthy by offering food to the mother regularly. Keep the food away from their resting place though. Cats do not like having food where they live.
For abandoned cats
If the mother cat does not return and you are sure the kitten has been abandoned, then you should remove it and take it to a place you can care for it. However, keep in mind that taking care of very young cats requires a lot of time, effort and patience. This includes bottle-feeding and stimulating them to eliminate many times a day.
Taking it home
You can transport your baby cat home in a ventilated carrier or box lined with soft cloth or towels to ensure that it is warm. Always make sure your kitten is not cold (its ears and foot pads should not feel cool) and is in a warm dry place. Cats under four weeks old can’t eliminate waste on their own or eat commercial cat food. You’ll need to feed them with a dropper or bottle-feeder. You will also have to stimulate them after a feeding to help them eliminate. This process will have to be done many times a day – about every 3 to 4 hours. Contact a veterinarian for more information on the frequency, method and type of formula you need to give your kitten. Taking it for a check up and scheduling appropriate vaccines is also a good idea.
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