As heartbreaking as it is, a mother cat can abandon her kittens. A mother cat has very keen senses when it comes to the health of her kittens, and she may reject them for example if she perceives that they are weak or unhealthy. On the other hand, she may also leave her kittens alone for a long time to search for food or to find a new location.
If you want to help abandoned kittens, here are some basic instructions on whether to step in and offer assistance before jumping to conclusions.
How to Tell if a Mother Cat has Abandoned Her Kittens
The best ways to tell if a mother Cat has abandoned her kittens are the following:
- If you find a group of kittens while their mother is off, try to determine if the mother is coming back or not before taking action. Stand away from the kittens, as if you stay too close the mother cat may not approach. She may even not return for several hours if she is spooked by human presence. If you need to leave before the mother cat comes back, try scattering flour around the kittens and look for paw marks when you are back.
- If you come across a single kitten wandering alone, that is a clear sign that it is neglected. You can try to return her to her mother if you can find her, but she may reject her again.
- Seeing clean and tidy kittens is a sign that a mother cat has been grooming them. On the opposite, being dirty and unkempt is a clear sign that they are abandoned. Moreover, you should listen carefully to how a kitten cries or mews, a neglected kitten will cry for attention without ceasing, while a kitten that is sleeping soundly is probably not abandoned.
- When you notice that kittens are disappearing one by one, do not be alarmed, this may be a good sign that their mother is actively looking for a new location.
What to Do if the Kittens Are Abandoned
- If everything from above, points out to a kitten or a group of kittens being truly abandoned, it is time for human intervention. Call your local rescue if you do not want to own the responsibility of taking care of them, but remember that rescues may decline you for lack of resources. Even if they cannot accept the kittens, they may still give advice and teach you tips on how to care for abandoned kittens.
- Find a way to feed them since they need to eat every few hours with the frequency depending on their age. This is usually done by bottle-feeding kitten formula. It is also essential to provide motherly care to newborn kittens. Keep them warm and help them urinate and defecate.
- Remember that your veterinarian is the best source of information when it comes to kitten care. Ask your vet for information about the amount and frequency of feeding, how to help the kittens urinate and defecate, and how to keep them clean and warm.