Here are some resources to help our foster parents with basic questions about caring for foster pets. If you are experiencing an emergency with an SPCA of Tompkins County foster pet, please contact the shelter immediately. During business hours, please call (607) 257-1874. After hours, please call our emergency line at (607) 592-6773.
Feline Foster Program Manual
Feline Fostering for Optimum Wellness
How Old is This Kitten?
(photos from 1 day to 4 weeks to help you determine age and needs)
Are These Kittens Orphans?
Mother Knows Best! (a summary of the link above, from Town Cats in Santa Clara, California)
During kitten season (March – November), well-meaning people may unknowingly separate kittens from their mother. Tiny kittens are often brought to our SPCA, where raising them is an intensive, exhausting job for humans – a job their mother is much better equipped to do. Kittens, domestic or wild, need to be nursed by their mother for 4-5 weeks. Newborn kittens have no immune systems and they are incredibly fragile. If you find kittens alone, before you take them to the shelter, please consider carefully whether they are really orphans.
Just days after kittens are born, their mother, whether wild or stray, must leave the nest periodically to hunt for food. Also, a cat often moves her kittens, one by one, to a new nest to safeguard them from predators.
What to do? If the kittens are safe for the time being, watch quietly from a distance to see if the mother returns. The goal is to do what is best for the mother and her litter – for the sake of the kittens’ survival.
There is no set length of time you should wait to see a returning mother cat, but it should be only a few hours. It’s a tough call - if you wait too long, the kittens can become chilled and dehydrated. If you have found a truly orphaned litter, we want to help. But before acting, consider this information and ask yourself, “Are these kittens orphans?”
Coming soon: Dog Foster information!