This was presented as a question to me recently... a friend found a momma cat nursing two kittens outside his house ~ I told him YOU HAVE BE...

Chosen By A Stray Cat & Kittens

This was presented as a question to me recently... a friend found a momma cat nursing two kittens outside his house ~ I told him YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN ~ a stray cat has adopted you! Sometimes this is how you get a cat. But seriously, what can you do to help the strays out? First, you have to answer a few questions about what's going on...

→ Does this cat belong to a neighbor? If so, tell them to have it fixed! Yell at them for being an irresponsible pet owner. (Wait, that's what I would do.)

If no one claims your doorstep friends, start by watching. Observe the mom and babies from a distance. Is there a mom? Are the kittens in danger? Is it freezing out? Raining out? Heavy traffic? Wild animals? Abusive children in the neighborhood? ONLY remove the kittens if they are in extreme danger. It's best to have their mom protecting them, she's their greatest chance for survival. Also note that momma cat might be gone for a few hours at a time, but this is normal and the kittens should be fine.

→ How can you tell if momma is feral? Momma might be a feral cat, but the babies ~ if introduced young enough to people ~ CAN be tamed. Feral cats are the result of a domestic cat or stray cat being left to fend for itself without people around to care for it. They will be aggressive and hiss out of fright. You won't be able to get near them or touch them. It might be tough to tell if they are just scared or feral. Continue to observe them and see if they are still aggressive after you feed them.

If you find out they are feral, you can trap them humanely and take them to the vet for a TNR or a Trap-Neuter-Return. Some animal shelters will rent out cages to trap them in.

→ Speaking of food, one way to help the momma and babies is providing food and shelter. The shelter can be an old rubbermaid tote, (here's a video on how to make a shelter) or an opening in the garage. You can give them food, but don't put both in the same place. The food can attract other animals and momma cat will want to keep her shelter and babies away from predators. Try feeding the adult cat far away from your house at first, then inch the food closer and see if they still eat it. You can get on a regular feeding schedule with them too. Take your time it could take several weeks for the cat to trust you.

→ Want to bring the cats in? Before bringing them in check for fleas, take them to the vet and get them vaccinated and checked for contagious diseases.

If you can, bring the cats inside away from other pets. (Learn how to introduce the cat to other pets here.) Get a bed, which can just be a box with an old T shirt, a litter box, a clean bowl of water, and some food.

Kittens can be weaned at 4-6 weeks. They can start with wet food combined with a little water. A kitten should stay with it's mother for about 8-12 weeks, then it can be slowly weaned away. Keep kittens with their litter mates for up to 12 weeks to get them socialized. (You can read more about kittens here.)

→ Or are the kittens orphaned? This will complicate things. If you are sure the momma cat isn't coming back, you'll have to remove the kittens, but only do so if you are prepared to bottle feed them. The kittens will need a carrier that can be kept warm either with a small blanket or towel inside for them to lay on, or place it over the carrier, but leave airholes! Check to make sure the kittens are warm, this is more important than anything else. Feel their paw pads, ears, and inside their mouth, if it's cold, wrap them up and hold them close, rub them with your hands for about 20 minutes until they start to warm up.

Try to determine their age. If they are under 4 weeks old, they have to be bottle fed EVERY THREE HOURS and since they can't defecate on their own yet you have to stimulate their genitals to make them go. If you skip a feeding they can get dehydrated and if you feed them too much they can get diarrhea. As the kittens get older the numbers of feedings will go down after 4 weeks. I've read that the powdered kitten formula is better than the canned. It's a BIG responsibility and an even BIGGER impact on the little kittens lives. Be proud of yourself as a foster parent, after all they CHOSE YOU.