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It's "kitten season!"

What should you do if you find kittens in your neighborhood?

Spring is here and with that comes the start of “kitten season.”  What’s “kitten season,” you ask? “Kitten season,” as defined by the Humane Society of the United States, is the time of the year when cats give birth, flooding animal shelters and rescue groups across the nation with homeless litters of kittens.  “Kitten season” is really three seasons in one, beginning in spring, peaking in late spring or early summer, and ending in the fall. “Kitten season” occurs because there are too many cats, both owned and unowned, who are not spayed and neutered and as a result, reproduce. Kittens under 8 weeks of age need constant care. This type of care is not always an option at your local shelter. Due to health issues, age, or space, underage kittens may be humanely euthanized.


So, what do you do if you see kittens in your neighborhood?

Your first instinct might be to scoop them up and take them home or take them to a shelter, but that may not be what’s best for the kittens. There’s a lot to consider when deciding if kittens should be picked up. 



Before picking up the kitten, and bringing them into your CASA


Follow the CASA method (thank you Kitten Lady)


If a kitten is in good condition, she has likely been cared for by her mother recently.

Good Condition:

  • Clean and alert

  • Chunky and well-fed

  • Not in distress

Mom is likely right around the corner. Try your best to reunite if unweaned.​

Bad Condition:

  • Dirty or covered in waste

  • Visibly underweight

  • In distress or medical crisis

These kittens may truly be orphaned and in need of swift intervention. Call us! 510-293-7200

Copy of Template Kitten Season Flow Chart designed by Dallas Animal Services (Instagram Po


​A kitten's age will help you determine the right course of action

  • 0-5 weeks

    • uncoordinated

    • closed or baby blue eyes

    • unweaned; dependent on nursing

These kittens should be kept with mom, fostering the whole family may be feasible however check in with the local shelter, it may be best to leave with the mom until weaned.  

  • 5-12 weeks

    • ​playful and coordinated

    • able to walk and run

    • eating food independently​​

These kittens are within the socialization window and are an ideal age to take in and socialize for adoption, check in with your local shelter to make sure there is a foster program that has room. If you are not prepared to foster these kittens for weeks until ready for adoption, it may be best to contact your local animal shelter.

  • 12+ weeks

    • Typically 3+ pounds

    • No longer nursing

    • proportionate or lanky body

If feral, these kittens will be more difficult to socialize, and they may have the best outcome if sterilized and returned to the community. Check your local shelter or rescue for TNR opportunities.



Every situation will be different, and it's up to you to use your best judgment about when and how to intervene. Your local shelter or rescue group can offer some advice as well.


Safe situation

  • mother is present

  • caregiver is present

  • family has food and shelter (whether or not it's viewable)

Unsafe situation

  • no one is caring for the kitten ​​ 

  • kitten is exposed to extreme weather or hazards



Your abilities and access to community resources will factor into how you respond. Give the kitten the most positive outcome possible, while working within your means and capacity.

Be sure to ask yourself

  • are you or someone you know able to provide foster care?

  • Does your local shelter have a lifesaving program that can help?

  • Can you access sterilization services for the family?


The CASA method can be found through


Contact Hayward Animal Services at 510-293-7200 for advice and the best course of recommendation. There is no guarantee that the kittens would be able to be brought into the shelter, we will work within our means and yours to decide. 


Additional information and resources:


Foster care information and resources:

Video by Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty rescue will provide tips and suggestions for caring for orphan kittens.  Orphan Kitty care video

Cute Cat Photo Pet Adoption Instagram Post.png
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