If you have kittens in your yard, or where you are trapping, you first want to identify how old they are and whether they are eating on their own yet. Kittens depend on their mothers milk until they are able to eat solid food. Until they are eating solid food, they should be left with the mom if at all possible. Otherwise you will have to bottle feed the kittens which is a lot of work!
If you intend to try and socialize the kittens and find homes for them, you want to get them when they are under 12 weeks/3 months old. There are always exceptions of course, but after 3 months it will be much more difficult to tame a kitten, and it is very likely the kitten will always be shy with strangers which makes it difficult to find a new home for them. Most adopters want an outgoing kitten, that doesn’t hide under the bed all day. If the kitten is over 4 months old, it is usually best to neuter and vaccinate the kittens and return them to their outdoor home as soon as possible.
Trapping kittens poses unique problems. Read our Tips & Tricks page about “selective trapping” for some tricks that may help. Also visit our Frequently Asked Questions page about what to do when you find kittens.
Determining a Kitten’s Age
Under 1 week: Eyes shut, ears flat to head, skin pinkish. Part of umbilical cord may be attached. Scooting on belly.
10-14 days: Eyes begin to open, ears flat. Smaller than your hand. Still scoot.
3 weeks: Eyes fully open – blue in color, ears erect, tooth buds visible. Walking but wobbly.
4 weeks: Teeth erupt. Possible interest in canned food. Walking.
5-6 weeks: Eyes changing from blue to adult color. Playful – begin to pounce and leap.
8-9 weeks: Weigh about two pounds.
Here are some more links to help you with kittens: