Before you do anything, remember—never separate kittens from their mother cat. If you don’t see her, monitor the kittens from a distance for a few hours. If their mother returns,
Leave Them Be™.
Learn what to do when you find kittens outdoors.
Learn more about kittens and their needs as they grow in our Kitten Guide.
If you find neonate kittens and the mom does not return it is really important to care for the kittens properly even if it is only to get them to a rescue group or shelter. Proper care will give them a better chance at survival. Kittens under three weeks of age cannot control their body temperature and need a heat source at all times. Never give a kitten cow’s milk, they should only be given Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR). To find out more about how to care for kittens please visit the National Kitten Coalition (kittencoalition.org/) and The Kitten Lady (kittenlady.org/).
If you need to surrender a found kitten you should always schedule a surrender appointment first. You can email CommunityCats@nycacc.org to make an appointment. This will allow us to ensure we have the capacity to care for the kitten and allow staff to prepare for its arrival. If it is a medical emergency you may bring an orphaned kitten to a Care Center location, please call 212-788-4000 before departing to alert staff you are on your way and to ensure the location is open.
You should always use caution if you choose to help a kitten.
If You Find a Sick or Injured Cat
If an animal is acting in a threatening or dangerous manner, protect yourself and call 911 immediately. Do not try to handle or physically restrain an aggressive or fearful animal. If an animal appears sick or injured, call 311. Do not try to make physical contact
If you are able to safely contain the animal and are unable to provide vet care please call the general number 212-788-4000 and/or email CommunityCats@nycacc.org to arrange a time for you to bring the cat in and to allow us to prepare for the pet’s arrival.
If You Find a Cat Abandoned in a Container or Building
When possible, we ask finders to make appointments to surrender stray pets, provided you are able to hold the animal potentially for several days. This can help us better prepare for the animal and make his or her stay as ideal as possible. If an animal comes to us as a stray, we will hold the animal for 72 hours during which time we will search through various databases for any reports of lost pets that may fit the description of that animal. If no one claims him or her after the holding period, he/she will receive a Placement Evaluation to determine next steps. For more information, please contact our Admissions Department.
If you are unable to hold the cat please call the general number 212-788-4000 and/or email CommunityCats@nycacc.org so we can arrange a time for you to bring the pet in and to allow us to prepare for the pet’s arrival.
If You Find a Cat Outside
Bringing in a stray cat may not be in his/her best interest if the cat appears healthy and thriving in the community. If the cat looks healthy and is not in any immediate danger it is very important to observe the cat over time rather than reacting in the moment. If you are worried about the cat and can safely approach it, consider putting a paper collar on the cat with your name and contact information for the owner to reach out to you to let you know the cat is cared for. Ask around, talk to neighbors, post fliers, check lost and found facebook pages, see if anyone else knows the cat. If the animal has identification, you can contact the owner directly. Identification comes in many forms, so please check the animal thoroughly for a tag. You can bring an animal to most veterinary hospitals to scan the animal for a microchip. You can also register the cat in our found pets database (see button below). This is a listing of all found animals in New York City, both in the shelter and in homes, and is one of the first places pet parents go to try and locate their lost animal.
If you cannot locate the owner after several days or weeks of observation and the cat continues to appear healthy the cat should be allowed to remain in the area without human intervention. It is very possible the cat belongs to a neighbor and is an indoor/outdoor cat.
Please see our flyer (below) for help deciding what to do with a stray cat or kitten. If you are unable to find any identification on the cat and the cat does not appear to be thriving or is in grave danger and you are not interested in keeping the cat yourself please reach out to CommunityCats@nycacc.org to discuss the situation more fully.
*If an animal is acting in a threatening or dangerous manner, protect yourself and call 911 immediately. Do not try to handle or physically restrain an aggressive or fearful animal. If an animal appears sick or injured, call 311. Do not try to make physical contact.