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Humane Society of Greater Rochester

Each spring and summer, our community sees an influx of homeless kittens. Affectionately known as “kitten season,” this can be one of the busiest times at Lollypop Farm and shelters across the nation.

Don’t Kit-Nap the Kittens!

Most of us would be concerned seeing a group of kittens outside. Oftentimes, however, the best thing to do is to leave them alone. Most of the time, if the mother cat is not present, she is busy searching for food and will be back for her kittens. A kitten’s best chance for survival is with their mother, so it’s important to be sure that the mother is not around before taking in kittens. Kittens need to eat every few hours in their first few weeks of life, so check to see if mom has returned after a few hours. If she hasn’t, the kittens may be alone.

Kittens require a great deal of time and care, especially if they are found without their mothers. Round-the-clock feedings, weight checks, and clinic visits may be necessary to keep these little ones alive and thriving.

When to intervene and when to leave the family alone are important. All situations are different and can change quickly, but this graphic can help as a guide on what to do.

If kittens can eat, play, and are five weeks or older, they can stay where they are as long as they have no signs of injury or illness. Be on the lookout for mom to ensure she is around, but it may take a couple of attempts to see her. If mom is not around, wait to see if mom returns within about 8 hours times.

If they are less than five weeks old and seem in good health, but are found without their mom she may still be close by. Feel free to monitor these kittens to ensure they are doing well, but do not intervene just yet. Keep your distance so that mom feels safe enough to return to her kittens. If you are too close, she may stay away out of fear.

If the kittens are not in good health, are without their mother, or are exposed to extreme weather, now is the time to intervene. Signs that the kittens are not in good health include: if they are very thin, if they have discharge from their eyes and nose, if they have a large amount of fleas or covered in waste, or if they are not moving well at a few weeks of age.

What Does Intervention Look Like?

There are a couple of options when you find a mom and kittens. If mom has not returned for more than eight hours, you can consider fostering the kittens. If you contact Lollypop Farm, we can help provide formula, veterinary care, instruction from our amazing foster team, and any other supplies you need to help the kittens grow big and strong. At 8 weeks of age, they will be ready to find a home of their own. If you cannot care for the kittens, contact our Admissions Department to see if there is room in our shelter for the kittens. If the mother and kittens are doing well and friendly, you can also consider fostering mom and kittens until you can help them find new homes.

Kitten Season Overview
Sue and Lindsay go over what to do when you find a kitten and key wishlist items that can help kittens in need at Lollypop Farm. Please note: we are now using Breeder’s Edge powdered milk replacer, which you can find on our wishlist.

How You Can Help

Spay or Neuter Your Cats
Cats can become pregnant at as young as five months of age. Fortunately, kittens as young as two months can be safely altered. If you can’t afford the procedure, check out our S.N.I.P. program that offers assistance for low-income pet owners, veterans, and college students here. S.N.I.P procedures are performed at Lollypop Farm’s Klingenstein Veterinary Clinic by appointment.

TNVR – Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return Program
One big way to help the cat population in our area is to help spay or neuter community cats, or outdoor cats so that they cannot breed further. Lollypop Farm provides low-cost services for feral and free-roaming “community” cats. Services are performed at the Klingenstein Veterinary Clinic at Lollypop Farm by appointment. Cats are spayed or neutered, rabies vaccinated, evaluated, and ear-tipped to identify them as sterilized. After recovery, they can return to their home colony outdoors. For more information on this program visit our webpage.

Give a Gift Through Our Wishlist
It takes a lot of supplies and other resources to help care for all the kittens. You can purchase all of these items on our Amazon Wishlist and they will be shipped directly to us.

Become a Foster Volunteer
By becoming a volunteer you can help care for kittens coming in from the community. We’ll provide you with training and supplies you need to help little kittens provide bottle feeding and compassionate care until the kittens are old enough to be adopted.Learn more here.

Adopt a Cat.
Choosing to adopt not only means you’ll providing a home for your new feline friend, you’re making space for another cat to find a safe haven in the shelter when it’s needed. See cats available for adoption.