San Diego Humane Society.

We’re officially in baby season, which runs March through October in San Diego. This seven-month period is the peak season of animal breeding – and when animal shelters are flooded with tiny, orphaned kittens and Project Wildlife takes in thousands of orphaned or injured baby animals.

This time of year, San Diego Humane Society receives constant calls about what to do if people find baby animals. We’ve all been there, finding a litter of helpless kittens or a baby bird fallen from its nest. When coming across these helpless infants, our first instinct is to save them – snatch them up and find help right away. In fact, this can actually do more harm than good. The best thing we can do is to first wait and monitor the presumably orphaned animals before intervening. The goal is to prevent the tragic unnecessary separation of nursing babies from their moms.

Last year, nearly 3,500 kittens arrived at San Diego Humane Society’s Kitten Nursery, and more than 10,000 wildlife came through Project Wildlife’s Care Center, all in need of food, medicine and specialized care.
Sometimes that baby bird on the ground is simply learning how to fly or a litter of kittens is resting peacefully while mom is out finding food for herself. Rabbits actually only spend two hours a day with their young, so you are more likely to find baby bunnies without their mom than with her. Most of the time, really well-intentioned people bring these animals to us for care, but mom may later return only to find her babies gone. That’s the worst scenario since baby animals have the best chance of survival if kept with their mother until weaned. So, unless animals are injured or truly orphaned, they should be left alone.

To help orphaned animals during this peak baby season, we’ve developed a matrix of Orphaned Kitten Care and Wildlife Care Guidelines. Together, we can ensure all of our animals, domestic and wild, are protected and the animals we love—all of them—have the best start in life.