May 22, 2023

Don’t be a “Kit-Napper” This Kitten Season

Esperanza is a very special lady who started her life as a tough street cat. One day, her two tiny kittens were found by some kids who thought they had been abandoned. Knowing they couldn’t take care of themselves, the children took the kittens to a neighbor to be bottle-fed and raised.

When Esperanza returned to find her kittens had been kit-napped, she was frantic! She tracked them down through the neighborhood and arrived at the front door meowing for her babies. She wasn’t used to being handled and was difficult to catch, so the kittens’ guardians got a trap from HSPPR to assist.

Once she was reunited with her babies, she was brought to the shelter for care. That same day, Esperanza and her two kittens went to a loving foster home, and she settled into indoor life.

As the weather starts to get warmer, there’s a chance you may come across kittens outside. Even though kittens can be found outside by themselves, it doesn’t mean that they need help from a human. Mom could be right around the corner and unless the kittens are sick or in immediate danger, they are better off with mom until they’re old enough to be spayed or neutered and adopted.

The kids who found Esperanza’s kittens had the best intentions, but it’s important to recognize when kittens need help, and when to leave them be.

When to “rescue” kittens

While human parents do a great job filling in the role of mom, kittens are going to be set up for success best when they stay with their natural mother during the first eight weeks of life.

Is mom around?

Even if you can’t see her, mom might not be far away. Cat moms are not likely to abandon their babies. She could be hunting, resting, or hiding from the strangers that are around her kittens. Check back in on the kittens at a future time. If mom has not returned in eight or more hours and the kittens are in the same spot, it may be appropriate to take action.

Are the kittens in immediate danger?

First, check your surroundings and see if the kittens are in a safe place. Monitor for threats in the area such as dogs, wildlife, traffic, adverse weather, etc.

If you know there is a threat, you can move the kittens to a nearby safe area so the mom can still find them. This could be on the other side of a fence or under a nearby structure. It’s a myth that cats won’t care for kittens after you’ve touched them. However, only move the kittens if necessary and keep them nearby so mom can find them!

Do the kittens look healthy?

Healthy kittens have big bellies and clean fur. Kittens who are dirty, skinny, have wounds, or eyes that are crusted may need your help.

We love animals too so we know that it can be hard not to intervene. But if the kittens look healthy and there is no threat where they are, the safest thing to do is to leave them there. Think of them like you would a nest of baby birds!

How you can help

After you have observed the kittens for 12 to 24 hours and are sure the mother is not likely to return, or if the kittens are clearly in poor health or injured, it is okay to pick them up and care for them. Be aware that sometimes, no matter what you do, neonatal kittens may not survive, and their health can fade very quickly. You can only try to be the best surrogate guardian possible. Once the kittens are at least eight weeks old, they can be brought to the shelter for vaccinations and adoption.

Kitten season is one of the busiest times of the year at HSPPR and we rely on our community to help us save the lives of hundreds of kittens each year. If you aren’t sure if a kitten needs help or not, please call HSPPR at 719-473-1741.


Adopt a pet from HSPPR and make them the newest addition to your family! When you choose to adopt, you also make room in the shelter for another homeless pet to find their new family. You can see all the pets that we currently have available for adoption at


Because HSPPR takes in more than 27,000 animals a year, space is limited for animals needing extra time to heal or grow. That’s where our foster volunteers come in! Click here to learn more about how to become a foster volunteer with HSPPR.


Can’t adopt or foster? You can still make a difference for animals right here in your community by donating! As an independent, local nonprofit, HSPPR doesn’t belong to any national humane societies or animal welfare groups. That’s why we need you!

And you can rest assured your donation is going to an organization awarded Charity Navigator’s Four Star designation and GuideStar’s Platinum Seal of Transparency. You can donate online at