RESCUE

So You Found Kittens Outside…Now What?

Updated 3/21/2024

Spring marks the beginning of Kitten Season, where unsterilized, outdoor female cats continually go through a heat cycle, giving birth to dozens of kittens. During kitten season, it’s not unusual to discover a nest of unattended kittens. Do you know what to do if you find kittens? When you come across kittens outdoors, it can be very tempting to scoop them up and bring them indoors. You want to help, right? It’s important to know that removing kittens from their current environment may not always be the right answer. 

So, what should you do if you find kittens outside? 

Leave them be, but keep an eye on them! Even if you see kittens alone, their mother is most likely nearby – she could be getting food, hiding from you, or in the process of moving her babies from one location to another (especially if you’ve found one kitten alone). She could be gone for several hours. A mother cat is the kittens’ best possible caregiver, so please LEAVE THEM BE! Momma cats are resourceful. There is a reason they survive cold temperatures and continue to breed. They find warm spaces to keep their babies, and they know when their babies are in danger. Taking kittens who are not weaned away from their mother puts the kittens at greater risk.

While it can be hard, sometimes walking away is the best thing to do. As long as the kittens are safe for the moment and you can come back to check on them within a few hours, LEAVE THEM BE. Wait a few hours to a full day to see if the mother cat returns. Be sure to watch from a hidden spot or from inside where you won’t be noticed. If the kittens are cuddled together and sleeping quietly, look pink, warm, and clean, and have full bellies, their momma has most likely been back, you just didn’t see her. 

If there is a mamma cat, it’s best to leave the kittens with their mom until they’re weaned. You can help momma cat by providing regular food and water, an outdoor shelter to create a safe space, and peace and quiet to avoid causing stress. Just be sure to pick up the food at night so it doesn’t attract predators. Here are some tips on how to care for momma cats and kittens.

When the kittens are older and weaned, you can help them find homes and get them and momma spayed, but intervention at such a young age can be detrimental. 5-6 weeks is the optimal age to take kittens from a feral momma cat for socialization and adoption placement. Can’t tell how old the kittens are? Check out this kitten progression article. Cats can get pregnant as young as four months of age, so it’s ideal to get the momma cat and her kittens spayed or neutered as soon as possible.

If the kittens are 8 weeks old or older, they don’t rely on their momma, so don’t hesitate to take them to a veterinary clinic or shelter. They can be spayed or neutered. If the momma cat is still with them, you can spay her at the same time through a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, like Planned PEThood’s.

If you’ve waited and monitored for several hours and see no sign of the mother cat, now’s the time to step in and help the kittens. It’s best to act quickly because young kittens are fragile. If you or someone you know is able to provide foster care, a local rescue, like Planned PEThood, can give you tips, tricks, and even supplies to help care for the kittens. There are plenty of online resources to help you. Keep in mind that kittens can be a significant commitment for you, especially if they are unweaned. Local rescues might have lifesaving programs and foster programs that can provide care for kittens. Most shelters do not have the resources to provide the care unweaned kittens need to survive, so it’s best to reach out to local rescues or contact the shelter before arriving to check. We have some listed here. 

Remember, if you find kittens alone outside, fight your instinct to pick them up and care for them, at first. If they are safe, leave them alone and keep an eye on them from a distance, watching for their momma. If the momma is not back in a few hours to a day, then it is time to step in and have a plan to care for them. You can drastically help kittens by being educated, knowing when to take action, and getting involved when help is needed.

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Get to Know Dr. Murphy, Our Superstar Vet

Dr. Murphy had always dreamt of becoming a veterinarian since her childhood. Her family fondly referred to her as Ellie May, after a character from an old TV show, due to her immense love for animals. This nickname from her childhood foreshadowed her future career path as a skilled and devoted veterinarian. 

She recalls one of her most memorable experiences working with animals during her time at the University of Tennessee. She worked in the rehab department during clinics where she encountered a yellow lab named Max. Max was suffering from disc disease that eventually caused hind limb paralysis. Though he had undergone surgery and an intensive two-month rehabilitation, he couldn’t regain control over his hind legs or bladder.

Dr. Murphy formed a deep bond with Max during his stay. Recognizing the importance of providing him with proper care, she decided to adopt Max and became his devoted caretaker for the final four years of his life.

Fostering animals also holds a special place in the heart of Dr. Murphy. Her favorite part is observing the transformation of the animals as they regain their health and confidence in the comfort of her home. She says that the happiness she feels when her fosters find their forever homes is both heartwarming and bittersweet. Dr. Murphy has fostered 43 animals since joining the Planned PEThood team.

Dr. Murphy’s journey is a story of compassion and dedication. Since joining the team in June of 2022, Dr. Murphy performed 9,598 surgeries, some of those including leg amputations, prolapse repairs, and several other emergency surgeries. 

At Planned PEThood, her expertise and love for helping animals shine as she contributes to making a huge impact! Please join us in thanking Dr. Murphy for her incredible efforts to help animals in Georgia!

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Sometimes Surgeries Aren’t Always What They Seem

Last week, we had an incredible shelter day!

Our Go Fix Georgia Program helped 60 shelter cats and dogs with spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, and even a couple of special surgeries. 

We wanted to highlight a very sweet, special pup we saw, Strawberry! Strawberry arrived at Planned PEThood early Thursday morning from one of our partner shelters. She was on our schedule for a straightforward spay surgery. However, upon sedation, we found a huge stick, embedded in the roof of her mouth. Ouch! Can you imagine how much pain she must have been in prior to surgery?

Our veterinary team quickly managed to remove the large stick and move forward with Strawberry’s spay surgery. We have no doubt she felt so much relief upon waking up! Now, Strawberry has headed back to Hall County Animal Shelter pain-free, ready to find her forever home! This lovable pup is available for adoption through Hall County.

This is just one of many unique cases that our vet team encounters on shelter days. This team not only provides expert medical care but also a loving touch for the dogs and cats that come to our facility. Spay/neuter, medical care, and life-saving surgeries for shelter animals are at the heart of our Go Fix Georgia Program.

Just a friendly reminder, NEVER let your dog chew on bones (chicken, steak, etc.) or sticks as they can splinter, become lodged like this, or be swallowed and puncture through the digestive tract. Let’s keep our fur babies safe!

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After Searching and Searching, Biggie Finally Found His Forever Home

After over a year in our foster program and waiting and waiting, Biggie Smalls finally found his perfect forever home!

Poor Biggie was originally dumped at a high-kill shelter. It didn’t take long for him to be adopted, but he was abandoned soon after that. A fellow rescuer reached out to Planned PEThood for help after finding Biggie alone, living on a porch, left to fend for himself. He had been ditched by his owners. Can you imagine how scared he must have been? Luckily, Biggie was a good boy and jumped right into his rescuer’s car, not making a peep the entire two-hour car ride. 

During the neglect he endured, Biggie’s skin was a mess from head to toe. He was infested with fleas and developed a terrible skin infection. This poor baby only wanted to be loved. With a little TLC and the help of his foster mom, Jess, our Adoption Manager, we were able to get his skin back to normal. 

Biggie waited so patiently for a home of his own. He even thought he found his forever home in time for Christmas last year, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. His foster mom stayed by his side this entire time, helping Biggie stay positive. We knew Biggie would eventually find the perfect home because he is the sweetest, goofiest, easiest pup who simply wants a nice couch to chill on. After over a year of searching, he finally found it!

This sweet family had been on the search for the right pup and eventually came across Biggie’s profile. They knew they had to meet Biggie and just like they thought, it was love at first sight! Biggie will have three human siblings and the biggest, comfiest couch he’s been dreaming of. 

We couldn’t be more excited for Biggie and his new family! Wishing you the happiest life Biggie!

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Injured Dog Loses Eye, But Gains Loving Home

Katie and Bella Donna

A few months ago, this sweetheart 4-month-old pup, Bella Donna, arrived from Habersham County Animal Shelter through our Go Fix Georgia program. Sadly, she had been surrendered to the shelter with the most horrendous eye injury. Trust us, you really don’t want to see the image. However, Habersham knew our Go Fix Georgia program at Planned PEThood would be able to help!

Bella Donna headed to Planned PEThood on our Thursday shelter day to get her eye removed and her spay surgery, ready to start a healthier, happier life! With as much pain as she had to be in, she was begging for cuddles and belly rubs from staff both before and after surgery. 

One of our amazing vet techs, Katie, couldn’t stand the thought of her recovering alone in a kennel, so she took her home for the evening for one-on-one care. Just for a few days, of course. The plan was to return her to Habersham the next morning so Bella Donna could find her forever home. But love wins and sweet Bella Donna won the lottery!

Congrats to Katie and her new puppy! We love watching happily ever after happen to our Planned PEThood family and shelter pets!

Go Fix Georgia is a program dedicated to improving spay/neuter access to rural animal shelters and their communities throughout Georgia. Starting with Newton County Animal Control in 2019, this program ensures that more animals leave these shelters sterilized, and vaccinated. There is one rule we require when working with a shelter- every animal that enters the Go Fix Georgia program is guaranteed safety! That means these animals will either be adopted or placed with a rescue group. In the four years since beginning our program, we have expanded to five county shelters and helped to provide spay and neuter surgeries for over 5,000 lucky dogs and cats in Georgia.

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Injured Kitty Loses Eye, but Gains Hope

Meet Coco! 

We recently received a frantic call about a kitten with a bulging eye. The Good Samaritan calling found Coco after he wandered onto their porch. They immediately noticed his eye and wanted to get him the help he desperately needed.

Despite the busy surgery schedule, we were able to squeeze Coco into our day. Our very skilled veterinarian, Dr. A, performed an eye enucleation surgery, where the eye was removed. 

Coco still has some time to go before making a full recovery, but he is progressing well and on the path to healing. The kind family who saved him took him home after his surgery to help him during his recovery. 

Two weeks after his surgery, Coco is doing fantastic. The family has decided to keep him and make him a part of their family! Coco will have several sibling kitties in his new home and we are working with the family to get a few of their kitties spayed/neutered. The family also cares for several feral kitties. What a purr-fect family for Coco!

What a brave little kitten. We are rooting for you Coco! We are so grateful the Good Samaritan brought little Coco into our clinic for help. 

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KIRA Club Kids Perform Surgery on Stuffed Animals

This month our KIRA Club (Kids Interested in Rescuing Animals) had a very informative and hands-on meeting. 

The kids learned all about different exams and surgeries animals receive at our Planned PEThood Duluth clinic, including how to check an animal for a microchip, how to check important vitals, and how to perform surgery to remove foreign objects. After learning all the important steps, they were able to put their new knowledge to the test and perform these exams and surgeries on stuffed animals. The kids had an absolute blast! We even had three kids at the meeting who want to be veterinarians when they grow up. How cool!

Animal rescue, compassion, and kindness can and should be taught at a young age, which is why we developed KIRA Club (Kids Interested in Rescuing Animals). Thanks to a grant from Orphan Kitten Club and Kitten Lady in Kira Serisky’s memory, we were able to start this program to help educate and inspire kids who are interested in animal welfare. 

KIRA Club has monthly meetings to discuss certain topics on the importance of animal rescue. These meetings include crafts, projects, guest speakers, presentations, and opportunities to meet a few furry guests. Children age 5 to 17 are welcome to join. We truly love seeing this club continue to grow and we know this program is making a huge difference in the lives of these children. 

Email events@PEThoodGA.org to learn more about KIRA Club and upcoming meetings.

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Fantastic Volunteers Help 17 Community Cats Through TNR

Two fantastic Planned PEThood volunteers and dedicated fosters, Melissa and Shannon, spent their Memorial Day helping community cats and preventing overpopulation in the Buford area. Together they trapped 17 cats and kittens. That’s a lot of cats in one day!

An elderly woman who lives with her disabled daughter, neither of whom drives, had called and asked for assistance. They were concerned about the growing number of cats and kittens around their house.

Melissa and Shannon are seasoned feral cat trappers and were more than happy to help. They spent about 4 hours trapping cats. It was exhausting but rewarding! They trapped those 17 cats and then brought them into our Duluth clinic for their spay/neuter surgery and vaccines. The kitties then went home with several different volunteers to recover from their surgeries. All the surgeries were covered by a grant from Second Life Atlanta. Their thrift store in Avondale Estates provides charities around Georgia with critical income to help in situations like these.

Planned PEThood kept two friendly adults, who Melissa is fostering, and the five kittens, who another wonderful foster is fostering, in hopes of finding them forever homes. The babies were hand pulled from underneath a wood pile. Can you believe it? 

The remaining 10 cats were released back to where they were found after they recovered. The kind woman who called will continue to feed the colony without having to worry about the population growing out of control. Those 10 cats who were returned to their outdoor home were also ear tipped, which will allow people to tell from a distance whether or not they have been spayed/neutered. This will save the cats the stress of being trapped and anesthetized a second time. 

TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) is the ONLY effective way to manage outdoor cat populations. Left unaltered, these cats can reproduce, and before long there will be dozens of community cats living in your neighborhood. TNR helps prevent the birth of unwanted litters AND the unnecessary euthanization of cats in shelters. 

You can trap community cats near you! We offer humane trap loans to the public at no cost, so you can TNR community cats in your neighborhood, at your workplace, or anywhere you’ve seen them.

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Two Special Needs Kitties Find Their Forever Home Together

After overcoming life-threatening medical issues and spending over a year in foster care, we are excited to share that Haze and Roger have found their forever home -TOGETHER! 

These loveable boys have spent over a year with their dedicated foster moms waiting to find their forever homes. Haze and Roger are some of the friendliest cats, but due to their variety of medical issues, they have struggled to find an adoptive home. That all changed when Haze attended the Cat Extravaganza show with his foster mom in early May. 

Haze came to Planned PEThood in June of 2022 when the nice lady caring for Haze noticed he desperately needed help. After he was rescued from an outdoor life, it was determined that he might not survive. He was barely a year old but already incredibly sick. Haze tested positive for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), a common infectious disease that affects cats’ immune systems, had an upper respiratory infection, a possible heart issue, very bad teeth, and more. However, with good vet care and extra TLC from his foster mom, Patti, Haze proved he was a fighter and became a thriving, healthy cat. He may be FIV positive, have a few allergies, and have no teeth, but he is a lovable kitty with a great personality. 

Roger came to Planned PEThood in September of 2021 as a kitten with all kinds of medical issues. He struggled through calicivirus, a highly contagious respiratory infection, and chronic rhinitis, a common complication of upper respiratory infections that can cause permanent damage to the nasal passageways and result in frequent infections and ongoing issues. He almost didn’t make it as a kitten, but he was a trooper. Thanks to our medical staff and his foster mom, Karen, he is doing well. Although Roger has chronic upper respiratory issues, Roger is a very friendly kitty who loves cats, dogs, and people. 

Their new mom met Haze at the Cat Extravaganza event and fell in love. She lost her senior rescue kitty a few months earlier and was ready to adopt a new feline friend. After meeting Haze, she decided to adopt him, but she was interested in a buddy for Haze. Patti suggested Roger. These two are like brothers and have so much fun together, so it’s the perfect match. She is ready to spoil them.

It’s been a tough goodbye for Haze and Roger’s foster moms after caring for these boys for such a long time, but they are both thrilled that Haze and Roger found a forever home together. Karen and Patty will even be babysitting the boys while their new mom is on vacation.

Happy life Haze and Roger! We wish you both the best life at your new home!

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Kittens Tossed From a Car Find Forever Home with Their Rescuer

As you may remember, in early April, there was a devastating story involving two neonate kittens being thrown out of a moving SUV while passing through a busy intersection featured on Southern Living, 11 Alive, USA Today, WSB-TV and more. Kittens just tossed out like trash!

Fortunately, a woman witnessed the terrible act. She was suspicious and decided to stop and check it out. She couldn’t believe what she saw! Two neonate kittens, less than 5 days old! Thankfully, the Good Samaritan was able to rescue the abandoned kittens, care for them overnight, and bring them to our Duluth clinic for medical attention the next morning.

As soon as the kittens came in and we heard the story, we called the police to file a report. The Duluth Police Department immediately sent out a compassionate cat dad to help. The incident was investigated as animal cruelty, but after lots of efforts to find the person responsible, they were ultimately unsuccessful.

Although this story started off incredibly sad, it has a happy ending. After the kittens arrived at our Duluth clinic, they went home with Jeanne and Tiffany, a mother-daughter duo, who have fostered dozens of bottle babies. 

Thanks to Jeanne and Tiffany, these two kittens, later named Case and Mazda after the Rick Case Mazda employee who rescued them, have been thriving. They’ve become such healthy kittens, growing so much in the last two months. 

Now, at about 8 weeks old and after nearly two months in foster care, they have found their forever home! The kind woman who stopped in that busy intersection to save these poor kittens decided to adopt them. While it’s only been a few days since they moved into their forever home, Case and Mazda are already settling in nicely. The purr-fect ending to a sad story!

We’re so grateful the Good Samaritan stopped to help these kittens and we are beyond thrilled she is making them a part of her family. A truly beautiful adoption story! 

Happy Case and Mazda (now named Leia and Nova)! 

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