Caring for Orphaned Kittens


Place a basket or box in a warm draft free place. For the first two weeks of life, provide warmth between 77 and 86 degrees fahrenheit, a heating pad set on low or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel work well for this purpose. Reduce the overall warmth up to six weeks to 68 degrees. From three weeks on, place a litter box nearby. Keep an eye on them. They may try to eat the litter. I would not recommend using scooping at this stage for the same reason.

Feed kitten formula with a nursing bottle. These can be purchased nearly anywhere. I got mine at our local Wal-Mart. The brand I use is called “A Little Lovin”.

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Most vets also carry nursing bottles and may have a wider variety. Your local vets is always a good place to go with questions. You will have to be careful that the kitten does not breath any formula into its lungs. If this happens you will hear a raspy sound and it will appear as though they are trying to cough.

I know this will sound weird but hold them upside down for a short time. I used to raise orphaned baby squirrels also for the wildlife rescue in Mass. This was their recommendation for when it happened with the squirrels and I use it with the kittens. This will help the formula to drain from their lungs in most cases.

If the raspy breathing continues, do not hold them upside down again. They are at a risk for developing pnuemonia if not taken care of. If they appear playful and still have a good appetite than I would not worry. However, if they stop eating or wanting to play then you must consult with a veteranarian as soon as possible. If there is a 24 emergency vets office in your area, call them. Most likely they will want you to bring the kitten in right away.

Potty Time!
This is part of the feeding and very important!! I cannot stress it enough. You will have to act the part of the momma cat in more ways than just feeding. Thankfully we do not have to use our tongues like the momma cats do. Before and after each feeding, you must help the kitten to potty! Lightly stroke the kitten’s anus and sex openings. Some say use toilet paper, others a warmly moistened paper towel. Me, I prefer a nice, soft, though used, towel that I have saved aside for this purpose. I also wet the towel slightly with warm(not hot!!) water. Wipe away any urine and stool from this area to avoid irritation or infection.

Prepared formula or powders are the only “food” the young kitten should eat. Kittens cannot tolerate cows milk because its milk sugar content is too high. Again, you can find these at your local grocery or vets office. There are several varieties in existance. My strongest recommendation is for KMR.

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This formula also can be used for other small animals. It is also available in liquid form. However, in my experience, the powder, while being more work, is less expensive than the liquid variety. When you have several very hungry mouths to feed, less expensive can be very welcome.

A second choice is Tiny Tiger. Distributed by Carter-Wallace, Inc. They also made the bottle. Again this also comes in a liquid form but the powder is less costly. Directions for mixing and storage are included on every can. Also included on the cans are feeding instructions. How often to feed at what stages.

Switching to solid food should begin at around week three. I use Kitten Chow, ground in a blender and mixed with water. If some seem reluctant to take to the food, not to worry. Just keep nursing them. Do not force them to eat. They will eat and show interest in eating at the proper time. I have learned it can vary from kitten to kitten.

All of them should be nursed as well as eating solid food at first. When all of them are eating the food, slowly decrease the formula and increase the food. Do this up until week eight. This is the normal time they would have been weaned by their mother. I would keep them for 2-4 more weeks though.

Switch them to dry kitten food without grinding or mixing with water slowly. Also make sure they are litter trained. If you have some difficulty with a few not eating the semi-solid food you may wish to try canned kitten food. This can be purchased at most vets. I have never seen it in a grocery store. The strong odors of the canned food tend to get them more interested in eating. Do not use adult cat food for this. The kittens systems cannot handle it yet.

Update: I have started to see some canned kitten food in the grocery stores and I recommend the Friskies brand of kitten food. Selection is limited so I still would recommend checking at a local vets office.

This tips page is merely meant to provide information I have learned over time or personal experience I have had. This is not meant to take the place of talking with a vet or other qualified professional and it should not. I am not a vet. Just a foster mom with lots of experience under my belt.

————-Author Information————–
Heidi has been rescuing and caring for orphaned kittens for more
than a decade. She has always loved cats and that love just grows.

You may use this article on your own site as long as this resource box and active links remain with the article. © Heidi