When you suddenly find kittens in your yard or garden, you may be surprised and start to think of ways of keeping them with you forever. It's easy to be tempted to bring them inside and treat them as your own pets. However, as much as these kittens attract you, it is best not to get them anywhere inside your home due to many reasons. Usually, during the spring or summer season, you will find a group of kittens or a single kitten visiting your yard regularly and expecting to be petted by you. Here is what you should do in that case.
How to Deal with Kittens in Your Yard
Let The Kittens in the Yard Be Where They Are
Though you may want to bring the kittens home, you must understand that it is not good for the felines. The mother cat could be nearby, searching for food more often than not and she will come back after a few hours, after she is done with her hunting. She could also be shifting the location of her kittens. Therefore, when you find a single kitten in your yard, you should never assume that her mother has abandoned it. Bringing the kittens inside will cause a lot of distress for the mother cat and the kittens. Leaving the kittens exactly where you found them is the best thing you can do for yourself and the kittens.
Is It Okay to Bring Young Kittens (Under Eight Weeks Old) Home?
When you find very young kittens in your yard (less than eight weeks old), you don't have to do anything at all. The mother cat would almost certainly be nearby. These kittens wouldn't have weaned completely, and they are dependent on their mother for milk. When you bring the kittens inside, you will rob them of their mother's nutrient-rich milk, impacting their overall development and immunity.
If the kitten is tiny (less than four weeks), you cannot care for it at home, as it needs 24/7 care and support. You cannot replace the love, milk, and care of a mother cat for these kittens. Hence, leaving them in the yard will help them stay with their mother and grow strong naturally.
What to Do if You Find Kittens Older Than Eight Weeks in Your Garden?
If the kittens in your yard are more than eight weeks old, they are not dependent on their mother's milk. However, that doesn't mean that you bring them indoors straightaway. You have to take these kittens, and the mother (if you find her) to the nearest veterinarian for spaying or neutering, so that the cats don't become pregnant. At this stage, these kittens will weigh at least 2 pounds. So, the veterinarian can check for their overall health and immunity before you decide what to do with them.
After the veterinarian check is done, you can choose to leave the kittens outdoors, adopt them, or put them in a foster home for adoption. You can check for the personality of the kittens and the mother cat before deciding to give them up to foster homes. If the cat and her kittens don't exhibit social or friendly behaviors at your home or adoption center, it is better to put them back outdoors. They may feel more comfortable going back to their original habitat.
Is It Advisable to Bring a Mother Cat and Kittens Inside Your Home?
If you love cats, you might be tempted to bring home the mother cat along with her kittens. You feel that you aren't separating the kittens from their mother by doing this and that they will continue to live happily outdoors. However, in reality, it doesn't happen this way. A mother cat starts feeling stressed and disturbed indoors and she gets nervous and starts losing her ability to care for her kittens. Leaving the family in its natural outdoor space is always better.
Are Kittens Safe Outdoors?
Generally, the kittens are safe and happy in outdoor spaces because their original habitat is the forest. However, when you spot a kitten or a group of kittens in your yard, you might want to know if they are safe or suffering from sickness. When the kittens show any of these symptoms, it is time for you to take them to the local veterinarian:
- Thin body with visible ribs
- Ears, bellies, and paws being cold always
- Gums and tongue in pale texture
- Extreme fatigue and highly lethargic behavior
- Crusted eyes or nose
- Signs of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
- Difficulty in breathing
- Visible injuries in the body like wounds and sores
- Purring loudly in pain
- Limping during movements
These are the signs that should tell you that the kittens are in danger and that they need medical care right away. However, if the kittens look healthy and their fur looks shiny, you can continue to care for them by giving them regular food and water.
Caring for Kittens in Your Yard
Here are some ways in which you can take care of kittens that visit you in your yard and stay safe, without bringing them home:
Give them regular supplies of food and water
When kittens stay with their mother cat, they will not have anything else other than their mother's milk for nutrition. However, if the kittens are older than eight weeks, you can give wet and dry foods two to three times a day for them and the mother cat. During summers, ensure that you keep a clean bowl of water near them, as they have to keep themselves hydrated. You can also try them with milk, but make sure it is the correct type.
Give them a good resting place
When a mother cat nurses or cares for her kittens in an open space, she is constantly stressed about the safety of her babies. You can make her life easier by giving them temporary shelter. You can make a simple shelter for the cats with old clothes or twigs. However, you can buy a good cat shelter home from the pet stores if you can afford it.
Guard them well
Once you have taken care of the food and shelter arrangements for the cat, you can take care of their safety as well. You can observe the mother cat and her kittens from time to time and allow the mother to nurse her babies in peace. Keep dogs and other pests away, as this causes undue stress on the mother cat You could use a cat fence or enclosure for this to let them be safe in the yard.
About the Author
Kirsten created The Pet Handbook with the aim of sharing her knowledge about pets, pet food, healthy habits, and more. All of her advice is based on years of her own experience with her pets, and feedback that she has received from grateful readers about her tips. If you want to know more please read the About Me page.