Help! I found a kitten, what do I do?

Education Aug 7, 2022

If you find a cat or kitten in Chiang Mai and you’re unsure what to do, or even how to determine if the cat needs help at all, this article is for you.

I Found a Kitten!

Remember: Not all kittens need rescuing!

Mother cats have a habit of leaving their kittens in unlikely places and will return to her litter. Unless the kittens are clearly ill they are best left where they are and monitored from a safe distance to ensure the mother returns.

We recently had a case of a number of members mobilizing to rescue a kitten that had adopted a tourist at a hotel, only to find out that the kitten belonged to one of the staff!

However, sadly there are many cats and kittens in Chiang Mai that urgently need help. Alone, abandoned or sick kittens won’t make it without human intervention.

A sick or injured cat or kitten should receive medical attention as soon as possible. The climate in Thailand means that a sick animal can die of dehydration very quickly!

Step 1: See if the mother is around

If the kitten looks to be less than 6 weeks old and isn't showing obvious or visible signs of illness, they should remain with their mother if possible.

If you find one or more very tiny kittens (6 weeks or under), the chances are that the mother is not far away. Unless the kitten is at very serious risk, leave them where they are and keep checking to ensure the mother returns.

Step 2: Assess the kittens health

If there is still no sign of the mother, and the kitten(s) look visibly sick, try and get a closer look to assess their condition. Be careful not to handle them too much, if their mother comes back it’s best not to leave any foreign smells on their body.

Step 3: Make a judgement

Based on your observations, you’ll need to decide whether the kittens are alone or not, and whether they need help or not. Here’s a few tips to help you out:

  • If no mother turns up after several hours, it may be time to step in. Kittens generally won’t survive on their own, especially young ones. Take them to a vet to get a health check, and treatments for parasites as the first step, before figuring out a safe place for the kittens to grow old enough to be adopted.
  • If any of the kittens or the mother look sick or injured, they will need your help. Take the entire family to the vet for a health check, and treatments for parasites as the first step, before figuring out a safe place for the family to stay temporarily.
  • Even if the mother is present, many of her kittens have poor chances of survival living outside. Predators, diseases and other cats unfortunately take the lives of so many kittens born on the streets. You may choose to help them out by taking the whole family in until the kittens are old enough to be adopted, and the mother can be spayed and returned to her territory.

While kittens are very easy to pick up if no mother is present, you may not have as much luck with a mother cat around. Even a socialised mama cat is probably going to be very protective of her babies, so you may need to get creative and use her kittens to lure her, or even use a humane trap to catch her. If you would like to borrow at trap, please contact us and we can arrange to get one to you.

We need help!

Step 4: Vet visit

Even if the kitten doesn't seem sick, the best thing to do is take the kitten to a vet right away for a health check-up. Kittens are very susceptible to illness, and will need parasite treatments right away. Additionally, a vet will be able to recommend how old they think the kitten is, and provide advice on what to feed it moving forward.

Below is a recommended list of veterinarians in Chiang Mai:

Step 5: Caring for the kitten

Cat rescue organisations (like us) are often at capacity. While we will always try to help where we can, we rely on members of the public getting involved in our mission, too.

So if possible, the best solution at this stage is to take care of the cat until it is strong and healthy. The vet should have already given you an idea of the kittens age, and whether they should be eating formula or kitten food. If you are hand-rearing a very small kitten, feel free to contact us for advice and tips.

Make sure to keep the kitten in a separate space if you have other pets. Because you do not know the history of the kitten, it could be carrying an infectious disease that you don’t want passed to your resident cat.

Rescue kitten at Adopt Meow in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Photo by Kym Ellis / Unsplash

We recommend putting the kitten in a single room in the house, which makes it easier for everyone involved. Always be sure to provide fresh water every day.

Especially for kittens who are rescued alone, spending time with them really helps them to fight through any illnesses they have. Once they know you are there for them, fighting their corner, they start to fight for themselves. Try to spend time each day giving cuddles or playing with the kitten if they feel up to it (we know you won't be able to resist anyway!).

Never kitten dairy milk as they cannot digest it. Goat milk is okay, but not necessary unless the kitten is not yet weaned.

Step 6: Deciding what to do with the kitten long-term

After having the kitten for a short time and getting it checked out by a veterinarian, you will come to a crossroads of having to decide if you will adopt the little furry friend or, if you should find it a forever home.

Adoption is a serious commitment, and just because you saved a kittens life doesn't necessarily mean you're ready for that commitment. Many people who are involved in cat rescue find loving homes for their rescues, so that they are able to save more lives in the future.

Here are a few tips on how to find the kitten a good home!

  • Take many good photos of the kitten looking at the camera. You will want to use these when advertising the kitten for adoption. The better the photo of the kitten, the better chances you have in finding it a home quickly. Here's some examples:
How old are they? Do they live in a house or a condo? Does their home allow for pets? Do they have any other pets? If so, are their current pets neutered and vaccinated? Will they vaccinate the kitten? Will they neuter the kitten? Will they raise the kitten indoor or outdoor? How long will they live in Chiang Mai and what do they intend to do with the kitten once they leave?
  • Once you find a suitable adopter, set up a day and time for them to pick up the kitten from you!

Our very own adoptions co-ordinator Jordan does an incredible job of sharing information about rescued cats that is irresistable to potential adopters. Here's an example of what a great post looks like:

More hands make light work 🐾

If you have the means to help needy kittens that you have found then we would always recommend that you do your best to help before attempting to give the kittens to a rescue shelter. At Adopt Meow alone, we take in 30+ kittens every single month — our rescue facility and our foster carers are quite often full to capacity, and we literally can’t take on any extra cats.

If you can take the kitten(s) to the vets yourself, give them a space in your home temporarily and devote some of your time to their care, you can make a huge difference to their lives. Our team are still on hand to offer advice if you’re new to this and dealing with sick or injured kittens — and there are a handful of vets in the city who are incredible at helping with cases like this.

Rescued kittens don’t need a lot of space — even an unused bathroom in your home would suffice for a short-term solution. What they do need is medical care via a veterinarian and some simple love and affection. Half of the battle with keeping sick rescued kittens alive is giving them a good reason to live!

Walt was abandoned by his mother. He's now a big, strong, healthy boy with a loving family!

Even if you can provide care and shelter for a few days or weeks, to wait for an opening space in your local shelter, or to stabilize the kitten before finding them a foster home with more space, or a forever home — it all helps. If you do take kittens to a shelter, consider donating any amount you can afford. They can’t do this work without financial support.

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