Finding Kittens – What To Do

“Kitten Season” is upon us. It’s the time of year when cats give birth, flooding animal shelters with thousands of kittens in need.

This season is actually three in one, because female cats will average 3-4 litters a year. The season begins in early spring and ends in late fall. And here in the “Sunshine State” our kitten season runs even longer than most!

Shelters cannot take in all the kittens born in Jacksonville. There is simply not enough time, manpower or resources. Also – the best place for kittens is with their mothers.

So – what should you do if you find a nest of kittens? Be a kitten hero! Here are four ways you can help:



 1. Ask: “Where is your mother?” Our first instinct as humans is “jump to the rescue!” In this case, don’t. Chances are a mama cat is nearby, watching and waiting for you to leave. Mother cats need to leave the nest to find food. Sometimes, they will move their kittens one by one to a more secure location.

If the kittens are not in immediate danger from traffic, construction, rain, or other circumstances, step back and watch from a distance. Give mom a few hours to return. If it has been a few hours and mom is not back, consider her gone.

2. House Hunters: Feline Edition If the mother cat does not return and the kittens do need to be removed from the area, be prepared to see the project through to the end. There are many groups in Jacksonville who can help you. Use this guide to learn how to care for kittens.

If the kittens can eat wet food, then will soon be ready for new homes. Make a plan to get the kittens spayed or neutered. Cats can be altered when they reach 2 lbs (generally around 8 weeks) and there are several low-cost and even FREE options in our area – including our very own JHS Community Animal Hospital.  It’s a good idea to do this sooner rather than later; cats can reproduce at just four months of age! Contact our Pet Safety Net team for more resources.

If the kittens cannot eat on their own, we can provide you with a starter kit of supplies (while available) and guidance on how to best provide at-home care. Babies of this age will not fare well in a shelter and their best chance at survival is to be in a home. Remember – warm first, then feed.


3. What if mama cat comes back? You have two choices:

A. If the mother cat does return and is friendly, slowly gain her trust, then transport her and the kittens to a safe location indoors. Keep the family in a warm, dry place and away from other pets. If you cannot temporarily foster, ask your friends, family, and neighbors. You never know who is willing to help! JHS can also provide resources to responsibly re-home cats and kittens when ready.

B. If the mother cat returns but is not friendly, begin by providing food and water. Make sure you clean up the area when you are done, and do not leave out more food than necessary. (If this happens on property that does not belong to you, check with the property owner first.) When the kittens are old enough to be separated from mom (about 5-6 weeks) you can then use local resources to trap, spay and release the mother cat. Then, you can foster the kittens until they are old enough to be altered and adopted. The mother cat will then return to her area and live as a community cat.

4. Ask and Offer Help  If you bring kittens to a shelter, the organization will need to find a foster parent and during this time of year, and that is not always possible. You can be that foster parent! Foster parenting begins by giving kittens a warm and safe place to thrive – perhaps in a spare bathroom, screened in porch, or a large dog crate. Keep the kittens well fed. If they can’t figure out how to eat at first, mix warm water with wet food to make “mush” – kittens love it! Spend lots of time cuddling your kittens so they learn to love humans – it’s a tough job, but someone has to do the cuddling.

At the Jacksonville Humane Society, we will provide you with support if you are willing to take the kittens home and care for them. You can also bring kittens to Animal Care and Protective Services, where support is available to you as well. Both organizations are in need of foster parents – so if you did not find kittens but would like to help, please sign up today!

 By working together, we can have #LessCatsJax.


More Kitten Resources:

  1. Why We Need Kitten Foster Parents
  2. Adopt a Kitten
  3. Shop & Donate To The Kittens