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I found kittens! Help!

Here at IndyHumane, we give every animal – no matter how small – a chance at a new life! 
Kittens make up the largest percentage of animals brought to our shelter. Most of these kittens are born outside and found by folks in our communities. These tiny, fragile babies require huge amounts of time, care, and resources.
Check out this flow chart to learn what to do if you find kittens!

first things first: wait!

Everyone’s first instinct is to grab the kittens and take them to a shelter. This applies to other baby animals as well such as bunnies and birds. However, that is NOT the best thing to do.

Wait and watch for a while before removing from the area. The mom cat will likely return after being out to look for food or may be in the process of moving the kittens to a new, safe location.

Mom may have left them alone for various reasons and will be back to care for them. Taking a baby from its mother significantly decreases its chances of survival. Even the best bottle baby care is nothing compared to having a mother.

You can wait for the mom for about 12 hours. As long as the kittens are in a safe, warm place, do not move them.

When waiting, be sure to assess the situation. The only exceptions are:
– the kittens are in a dangerous area
– the weather is poor
– the kittens appear sick and starving
If any of those situations apply, they will need moved ASAP. Still, try to move them to a safer location nearby, just in case mom comes back.

if mom returns...

  • If possible, it is best for mom to stay with the kittens until they are weaned. Provide them a safe area with a warm shelter and regular food for mom.
    • Be careful attempting to handle mom. If she is feral, do not intervene.
  • If mom is friendly, or an owned cat, keep inside in a safe area
    • Still be cautious, as moms can be protective of their babies even if they are usually friendly
  • Once the kittens become mobile and eat on their own they can be separated from mom if necessary
    • At this point it is ideal to work on finding foster for them, give them proper medical care including being spayed/neutered, and get them ready for adoption
  • It is crucial at this point to trap mom, get her fixed, and return her to where she was found as a community cat
    • Female cats can get pregnant again very quickly (including while they are still nursing their babies). Get them spayed ASAP to avoid more babies!

if mom does not return...

  • Only move the kittens if you are sure mom will not be returning
    • you know she was injured, she has not returned in several hours and the kittens are crying, or someone you know has already removed the kittens from the area
  • Get them into a safe, warm, and clean environment inside
  • Be prepared to give them the care they need

plan to keep the kittens?

If you are able to care for the kittens, check out our Caring for Kittens Packet.

If you plan to keep the kitten(s) or have found homes for them, get them spayed and neutered! IndyHumane’s Downtown Clinic will provide low cost spaying and neutering for kittens as well as community cats. Click here for details!

need to surrender the kittens?

For kittens only, email

Kittens can be spayed/neutered and ready for adoption at 8 weeks of age. Until then it is best for them to stay in a home.

unable to provide care?

If you are unable to care for them temporarily, an intake appointment will be made ASAP. Since we want to keep kittens out of the shelter environment, timing for an appointment will depend on foster home availability, and you may need to wait up to 3-4 days (possibly a week, depending on space).

Again, for kittens only, email