Kitten Season & Wait 'Til 8

In most states, kitten season begins around spring and lasts through early winter. However, in Florida, it can come close to all year long. Cats start reproducing and continue to have several litters during this time period. During this time, Orange County Animal Services experiences a massive influx of intakes of kittens and mother cats. Underage kittens without their mothers are at high-risk being brought into shelters due to the vulnerability of their health.

Before jumping to the rescue, please considering the following recommendations:

  1. Quietly observe from a safe distance to determine if the mother is present.
  2. If the kittens are clean and sleeping in a heap, mom is most likely out looking for something to eat and will be back to care for them.
  3. If you sense the kittens are in immediate danger, move them to a safe area nearby where the mother can still find them.
  4. Place them in a sheltered area, away from the direct sun, rain or traffic and continue to watch for the mother.
  5. If you have observed the kittens for 12 to 24 hours and the mother has not returned, then pick them up, and care for them.

Be aware that sometimes, no matter what you do, some neonatal kittens do not survive and can fade very fast. You can only try to be the best surrogate guardian possible and hope for the best.

Orange County Animal Services is an open-admission shelter. That means we do not turn any animal away. However, kittens less than eight weeks old are at extremely high risk being brought into shelters. Due to large amount of animals housed at the animal shelter, underage kittens are more susceptible to diseases that can spread quickly and affect these vulnerable animals heavily, and often fatally. Underage kittens would be in need of foster care with constant monitoring and feedings. Animal Services can never guarantee that a pet will be fostered or adopted from the shelter, although every effort is made.

Due to the vulnerability of kittens in a shelter environment, Orange County Animal Services has partnered with Kindness for Cats, Inc. to empower citizens in the community to help through the Wait 'Til 8 program. Through this program, Kindness for Cats Inc. provides some resources to care for the orphaned kittens until they are at an age, safe enough to survive in a shelter and become a potential adoption candidate to find their new loving home.

Please note: Kindness For Cats, Inc. is not a rescue; they are a small group of experienced foster parents. They partnered with Orange County Animal Services for this program to empower and support people who have found young kittens in their community (alone or with a nursing mom) and want to give them a safe and healthy start on life.

Kindness for Cats, Inc. Resources:

"I found a kitten(s)" -

Wait 'Til 8 Kitten Intervention Program -

Wait 'Til 8 Kitten Intervention Program Guidelines -

Wait ‘Til 8 means to wait until kittens are eight weeks old before turning them into a shelter. This program is designed to empower you to care for kittens in your home until the kittens are old enough to return for sterilization and adoption.

The Wait 'Til 8 program is intended for kittens, found within Orange County that are under two pounds, with or without an accompanying mother cat, and includes neonatal kittens, so long as the kittens are healthy.

To qualify for the program you must be an Orange County resident, age 18 or older that agrees to the following:

  • Be able to safely house kittens and/or mama cat with nursing kittens for the duration of the program - typically until the kittens are 8 weeks of age and weigh at least 2 pounds. (Exception - if the mother cat is a "community cat", then she can be spayed and released back to her outdoor home as soon as the kittens are weaned, typically at five weeks of age.)
  • Give adequate and age appropriate food, and fresh water, every day.
  • Provide clean bedding and litter box.
  • Spend time each day socializing the kittens. In order to be an ideal adoption candidate, kittens need to be socialized and friendly.

For more information about enrolling in the Wait ‘Til 8 program, please email

If you’ve found a kitten or a litter of kittens and aren’t sure if they are old enough, to exist in a temporary shelter environment, you can bring them to Orange County Animal Services. At Animal Services, our intake staff can help weigh the cats to determine if they are a candidate for the Wait ‘Til 8 program. If they quality for the program, they will help enroll you. Staff will provide you with a WT8 starter kit when you sign up. Supplies will be limited as they are a means to get people started, rather than to sustain long term and we want to do our best to ensure we can serve everyone.

Upon sign up, you will receive a bag containing the following supplies:

  • 1 can of Kitten Milk Replacer (“KMR”)
  • 1 kitten bottle
  • 1 syringe (3mL)
  • 1 case of canned kitten food
  • 1 disposable litter pan
  • 3 puppy pee pads
  • 4 pounds of kitty litter
  • The Wait ‘Til 8 program flyer with contact information for Orange County Animal Services and Kindness for Cats, Inc.
  • The Kitten Lady’s Orphan Kittens Booklet

Congratulations! Your kitten(s) are ready to find their new forever home.

You have the following options:

  • Bring them back to Orange County Animal Services.
    • They will be impounded, be placed on the spay/neuter surgery schedule, and be placed for adoption.
  • Contact Orange County Animal Services and let us know you'd like to keep them as your own personal pet(s). We will coordinate with you when we can place them on the spay/neuter surgery schedule, and you'll pick them up and take them home with you.

A healthy kitten is ready for adoption when they are two pounds or eight weeks old.

Share your Wait ‘Til 8 stories on social media using the #OCASWT8!

Please contact your local veterinarian for treatment. Orange County Animal Services will not perform spay/neuter surgery on sick kittens due to increased surgical risk.

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