Taming vs. Trap-Neuter-Return: What to do if you find a litter of kittens

litter of kittens

You’ve found an adorable litter of kittens under your porch (or in your shed like I did). What do you do? Beth DeMonbreun, Feline Fix Manager for Pet Community Center, breaks it down for us. The options you have when you find a litter of kittens are to either trap-neuter-return them, get a crate and bring them inside to tame them or find someone who wants to keep them as indoor pets, DeMonbreun says.

Taming kittens is a major time commitment. The older the kittens are, the longer it takes to tame them. DeMonbreun says she doesn’t recommend taming cats older than two or three months because it’s extremely stressful for the cat, and the cat may only be tamed to that person. What you don’t want to do if you see a litter of newborn kittens is pick them up, she says.
“You want to leave them alone because mom is probably out hunting. She’ll come back and get them. Unless you’re into bottle feeding, which most people aren’t, mother’s milk is much more healthier for the kittens,” DeMonbreun says. “The best thing to do is leave newborns where you find them and then try to trap mom and get her fixed, and then get the kittens fixed when they’re old enough. If someone is wanting to tame kittens, I usually tell them to wait until about four weeks old when they can eat food away from mom without having to be bottle fed.”  If the mother cat doesn’t return after several hours of observation, the kittens may be truly orphaned, in which case it would be best to bring them inside.

DeMonbreun recommends getting neighborhood kittens fixed as soon as possible to avoid overpopulation.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, spaying and neutering is safe and easy for kittens and puppies as young as eight to 10 weeks old. In fact, Pet Community Center’s medical team has been professionally trained in pediatric spay/neuter, and the clinic has performed nearly 2,000 pediatric sterilization surgeries since opening in June 2014.
During the month of June, Pet Community Center will offer $20 spay and neuter surgeries as part of “Precious, Not Parents,” PetSmart Charities’ spay/neuter campaign aimed at cats and dogs younger than six months old. This is a great program for neighborhood kittens to help avoid overpopulation, since cats can mate as young as four months old.