FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Anyone who finds a group of kittens outside is naturally concerned. They are likely small, hungry and in need of attention. However, the attention they need may actually be from their mother.

A group of kittens found outside may not be abandoned, according to the Best Friends Animal Society. Feline experts with the group warn that a group of kittens without a parent present may simply be awaiting that parent’s return. The mother cat is considered the best source of nourishment for the young kittens – and is going to be completely dedicated to her young.

Experts warn that many shelters do not have the resources needed to give newborn kittens the care they need to thrive. They need to be bottle-fed every two to four hours, they are susceptible to illnesses and are very fragile.

The best course of action when finding a group of kittens is actually a multi-step process, according to the Best Friends Animal Society:

  • How long ago did you notice the litter? Their mother might still be around, so check again a few hours later. If the kittens seem content then they are being looked after.
  • Have you seen the mother cat lately? Sprinkle some flour in the area and check for paw prints from a cat returning to her kittens. Pawprints in the flour mean the mother is returning to look after the kittens.
  • Are the kittens in danger? If there is cause for concern, move the kittens away from the danger but still somewhere nearby so that the mother cat can still find them.
  • Do the kittens look sick or injured? If the kittens do not look well it could suggest that their mom has not been around lately. This is when it’s time to contact a rescue organization.
  • Did the mother cat not return after 12 hours? If there is a reason to suggest the mother cat is not caring for the kittens and is not returning to them then that is also when a rescue organization should be contacted.

There are shelters in Fresno County that will take in abandoned cats. In unincorporated areas of Fresno County, you should contact Fresno Humane Animal Services, in Fresno the CCSPCA, in Clovis you should contact Clovis Animal Services, in Selma Selma Animal Services, in Kerman the Kerman Animal Control.

Experts say the best way to avoid kitten overpopulation is to have them either spayed or neutered when they are old enough. According to the ASPCA, a kitten’s early weight corresponds to its age. A three-month-old kitten will be around three pounds – and three months old is old enough for surgery to be spayed or neutered.