08.03.2004 - A female feral cat, like any other wild critter, wants a safe place to have her young. So pretty much every time (but not 100% of the time), when I have a call for cats in the attic, there's also some kittens somewhere. It's important to
find the kittens, and to check the female cat, if you've caught her without kittens, for swollen cat-teets, which indicate nursing. Believe it or not, kittens drink milk. Who would have thought?
So in this case, I searched and searched for a litter of kittens, and sure enough, I found them, huddled in a ball in the insulation. They looked cute! But not cuter than baby raccoons, which are the cutest of all, cuter even than a button. And baby raccoons are also more snug than baby kittens, more snug than a bug in a rug. I removed the cute and snuggly kittens, and brought the lot to the SPCA.
Remember, almost any time you are dealing with a critter in an attic, it's a female with babies. So if you have cats in your attic, please be aware that you've also got kittens up there. I've seen far too many cases in my life in which an ignorant homeowner tries their own solution - such as trapping the female cat or sealing the hole when she's outside - only to leave helpless young in the attic to starve and die. Do you want to see these kittens, or any other baby animal, starve? No? Super! Make sure you remove the young as well as the adults.
Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Rid of Stray Cats page for tips and advice.
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What should you do if you find a Litter of Kittens?
Finding abandoned kittens is heart wrenching. They may be in a box on the side of the road or outside a local store with a lot of traffic. A family that cannot afford to feed the kittens, cannot find homes for them, or do not have a shelter that can take them in often abandon the babies.
Make the Kittens Safe
Whether you find the kittens on the side of the road or because you hear tiny meows coming from underneath your porch, you should take care of them. They did not ask to be abandoned so it is important you take on the responsibility.
If you can, bring them inside. Keep them away from any household pets until you are sure they are healthy. Make sure they are warm and well fed.
Ask for Assistance
Call your local animal shelter to ask them for advice on how to handle the situation. Ask them questions like:
• Do you have advice on caring for kittens?
• Do you have a bulletin board I can put flyers on?
• How can I get them fixed and vaccinated at a low cost?
• Do you know of any other organizations that can help?
Also have them put the kittens on a list or notice saying they were found. They may not truly be abandoned, just lost, especially if you find them living around your home.
The kittens may not be fully weaned off their mother's milk yet. If that is the case, you will need to get cat formula to sustain them. Pet stores and shelters have different options and often have full kits designed to help the kittens along during this important stage of their lives.
If they respond to eating small amounts of canned food, that will sustain them. Make sure the food is ground and formulated for kittens so they get the nutrition they need.
Adoption by you or others
If you can care for the kittens and want to keep them, that is a great option. You will need to make sure other pets in the family are receptive to the new additions. Introduce them slowly and monitor the situation for their own safety.
If the litter is large you will likely need to find safe and loving homes. Ask your family, friends, and neighbors if they are interested first. If they are not, call your local animal shelter to make sure they have room for them.
Finding kittens and making sure they are well taken care of by you or through adoptions is a wonderful feeling. Take the responsibility and you will not be sorry.
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Imagine hearing distinctive meowing sounds in your attic. You go up to check it out only to find a litter of kittens stuck in your attic. How would you react? Many people would be inclined to remove the kittens and care for them at the very least. However, there's a missing component. The kittens didn't get in there themselves. And by going about their removal the wrong way, you risk separating them from their mother. That's why we're going to explore the right way to handle such situations.
Why Are There Kittens in Your Attic?
Stray cats - also called feral cats - like many other wild critters prefer to give birth to and nurture their young ones in a warm, comfy, and safe place. If accessible, attics make a great shelter. Even in rare cases, your pet cat can decide to give birth in the attic for the same reason. After birth, the kittens rely on their mother's milk until they're adequately weaned. In most instances, they'll leave when they come of age. However, you do not want to wait that long because of the damage they can cause in your attic.
How to Deal with It
Here is what you should do if you suspect kittens are residing in your attic.
You cannot develop the right removal strategy based on assumptions. Wear protective clothing and get into the attic to confirm what animal species is there. You should be careful because feral cats are usually vicious and can scratch or bite if you come too close.
Capture The Kittens
Occasionally, the female cat will leave her kittens in search of food. This is the perfect opportunity to get a hold of them.
Capture Their Mother with a Live Trap
Using her kittens as bait, trap the female cat with a live cage. The cat will voluntarily enter the trap in an attempt to free her kittens. This strategy ensures that you do not separate the mother from her kittens.
Reunite Them with Their Owners or Call Your Local Wildlife Shelter
In many cases, stray cats are just lost. If they have their collars on, you can contact their owner and help reunite them. If that's not the case, you can take them to your local animal rescue association, animal services, or humane society.
What If They're Abandoned Kittens?
There's the possibility that a mother leaves her kittens in your attic only to meet her demise in the outside world, maybe from a predator attack or collision with a vehicle. If you've examined the situation and you're certain that the kittens have been abandoned, you have to remove them and care for them. Here's a general guide to help with that:
Take Care of the Kittens
You should bring them to your house and keep them away from household pets. Since they may not have been fully weaned, you have to get cat formula for their sustenance. You can get different feeding options from the pet store. You may also try out a small amount of canned food to feed them.
If you're a cat lover and all your family members are on the same page, you can adopt them. However, if the litter is large, you might want to find families, friends, and neighbors that may be interested in adopting them. If you don't want them and can't find people to adopt them, you can call the local animal shelter to take care of them.
Seal All Entry Holes
After you've gotten rid of them, check for all potential entry holes. They should be quite big given that cats are relatively bigger animals. Thereafter, seal up all potential entry holes to prevent a future infestation from either another cat or wild animal.
If you do not want to go through all this stress, you can call a professional wildlife removal company to help deal with it.