Star-Bulletin Features

These tiny kittens fit snugly inside a kitty play ring. The longer kittens and mother stay together, the more they'll learn from each other.

Here’s what to do if you
find kittens in the wild

By Hawaiian Humane Society

Spring and summer are the time of year when many animals give birth to the next generation. The Hawaiian Humane Society offers a few guidelines for you to consider if you encounter newborn animals and wonder what you should do.

>> Newborn kittens with a friendly mom: If the mother cat appears friendly, move slowly toward her to avoid scaring her. Check to see if she has access to food and water and that the kittens appear to be healthy. The best thing is to leave them as you found them -- mom will provide all they need -- but keep watching them.

After a week or two, try touching the kittens, if the mom allows, and provide food and water for the mother if you wish. If the cats have no owner, gently collect them when the babies are at least 6 weeks old (almost 2 pounds each). Put them all in a clean, ventilated box lined with a towel and, on Oahu, bring them to the Hawaiian Humane Society Incoming Animals Department, open 24 hours.

Mom and kittens will be placed with foster care volunteers who will socialize, handle and help care for the kittens so they can become human companions. When the kittens are about 8 weeks old, they and their mother will be spayed or neutered and made available for adoption.

>> Newborn kittens with a feral mom: If the mother cat is unapproachable, she is probably unsocialized, and the kittens will grow up to be feral (wild) as well. The best thing to do is to leave them as you found them. Check to see if there is a feral cat colony caregiver feeding the mother. If no one is watching over them, the litter can be separated when the kittens are about 12 weeks old (about 3 pounds each).

At that time, reserve a humane animal trap from the Hawaiian Humane Society (946-2187, ext. 285), and pick it up at the Incoming Animals Department. Once you have the kittens and their mother in the humane trap, bring them to the Humane Society, or call for a pickup. We will do our best to find them homes. All adopted animals are sterilized and have microchip identification.

>> Newborn kittens with no mother: If you see a litter of kittens without their mother, don't immediately take them away. The mom-cat might be nearby getting some food. Leave the litter as you found it, and watch for the mother's return. If you are sure that the mother cat has abandoned the kittens, you may bring the litter to the Humane Society. If they're not old enough to eat solid food, foster care may not be available.

"Bottle-feeding and caring for newborn kittens is time-consuming but very rewarding," said Mary Tashiro, manager of animal care at the Humane Society. "If you work part time or have the kind of job where you can bring the kittens along, get ready for a wonderful experience.

"The kittens need attention every two hours for the first few weeks. After four weeks, they are weaned and become much more independent, but this new phase can be a lot of work, too. Those who can tackle the work involved with nursing newborn kittens are welcome to call us at 946-2187, ext. 203. We'll provide tips and help to get the kittens sterilized."

Since one cat, a mate and their offspring can grow to 420,000 cats in just seven years, it is imperative to break the cycle of pet overpopulation.

>> Baby birds with no adult: Animals in nature can generally care for themselves. If you encounter a lone baby bird away from its nest, the best thing is to place it gently back in the nest, since the mother bird cannot. It is a myth that she will not nurture the bird if you touch it. Place the bird back in the nest, and the mother will care for the baby again. If the bird can fly a little, the adult birds are probably nearby, teaching the baby how to fly. Not all fledglings are able to eat on their own and should ideally be returned to their nest.

If the nest is too high, put the bird on a low branch or a shady fence post, up off of the ground. After a couple of hours, check on the bird again. If it is still in the same place, not being cared for by an adult bird and unable to fly on its own, then bring the baby bird to the Humane Society.

>> Seabirds: Sea Life Park takes in abandoned or injured seabirds, not ducks. Call 259-2537.

"Pet Ohana" runs the first and third Fridays of each month.
The Hawaiian Humane Society is a nonprofit agency dedicated
to preventing cruelty to animals. It is located at 2700 Waialae Ave.
Call 946-2187 for more details.

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