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Kitten Care Information
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Kittens are darling little animals that require extra special attention, care, and love. When adopting a kitten at the appropriate age (6-8 weeks), caring for you kittens is fairly easy; you just need to make sure that her environment is safe, that she knows where the litter box is, and that she is eating food that is appropriate for her. (formula, soft food, or dry, hard cat food) Keeping a safe environment means making sure that your kitten cannot jump out of any windows (2nd story and above) by having window screens, making sure there are no plants that are poisonous to cats in your home, making sure there are no poisonous substances within your kitten's reaches, ensuring that there are no dangling strings and things that your kitten could hang herself on, and making sure that there are no tiny, sharp objects on the ground that your kitten may swallow. However, if you have a kitten that is younger than 6 weeks old, you will need to know how to properly care for you kitten in the absence of her mother.

Finding a stray | Feeding Instructions | Supplies | Age | Keeping warm

Finding stray kittens

Finding feral, "stray", kittens can be exciting, but there are many things that you will need to know about trapping and caring for your found kittens. When you first sight kittens in your backyard, step back for a moment and make sure Mom is not still around and just hiding from you. If you see the Mom cat nearby, DO NOT DISTURB THE KITTENS and let Mom take care of them herself. It is especially crucial for newborn kittens to receive the nutrion fromMom's milk during the first couple of days of their lives. Many kittens will not survive if separated from Mom during the first week of their life. Put some food and water out for Mom, so she can devote herself to her babies. Contact your local Humane Society or a Feral Cat Rescue Group for help and information on how to trap a feral cat family. Remember - Mom and her babies need to be spay/ neutered to avoid creating a new feral cat colony in your neighborhood. Home at Last provides more information about feral cats and what to do with them.
Follow the guidelines below if your kitten's Mom is not around.

Kitten Pic Determine the age of the kitten to see if he or she needs to be bottle-fed or can start immediately on soft food:
  • Eyes closed, ears folded over - kitten is 1 - 14 days old
  • Eyes are open, kitten moves around but is wobbly - 2 - 3 weeks old
  • Eyes are open, ears up, can walk around - 3 - 4 weeks old
  • Running around and is difficult or impossible to catch - 4 - 8 weeks old or older.
  • 1 - 3 weeks old - will need to be bottle-fed.
  • 3 weeks and older - can be offered soft food, but may need to be bottle-fed.

If the kitten is cold, warm her slowly by holding her against your bare skin, which will allow her to absorb your body's heat (if you are outside, your armpit makes a great incubator). Cold is the greatest danger to kittens. DO NOT submerge the kitten in water or use any method that will warm her temperature too quickly. Because she is not able to generate her own heat, wrapping the kitten in a blanket or towel is not sufficient. The kitten must get her heat from you. DO NOT feed a cold kitten. Wait until her body heat is approximately 90+ degrees Fahrenheit. See section below regarding feeding instructions.

Kitten Pic Make a kitten box. Put a heating pad in a box big enough to accommodate the heating pad and an area that is not covered by the heating pad. Kittens will crawl toward the heat when they are cold and away from the heat when they are warm. If they do not have an area where they can get away from the heat, they can become dehydrated and die. Turn the heating pad on LOW and cover it with a towel. Never let the kitten lie directly on the pad. Place the box in a warm and draft-free area.

Do not bathe the kitten unless absolutely necessary. If the kitten appears to need a bath, her body temperature must be normal, 90+ degrees Fahrenheit. Flea combing is best if the kitten has fleas. (If the kitten must be bathed, use small amount of Lemon Joy. The citrus kills fleas and is safe for kittens. Flea shampoos are too harsh for kittens.) After towel drying the kitten as much as possible return the kitten to the heating pad. NEVER use a hair dryer.


    Supplies you will need for neonatal kittens:

  • Heating pad
  • Kitten Milk formula or replacement
  • Hot water bottle (must be wrapped in towel)
  • Feeding bottle and several nipples
  • Eye dropper or syringe (without needle)
  • Several bath towels for bedding and cleaning kittens
  • Scale for weighing kittens (optional)
  • Rectal thermometer (kittens normal temperature is between 100 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Have Emergency Vet Clinic number handy.(Ask if they have experience with orphaned kittens)
Kitten Pic Feeding Instructions
KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) or Just Born are the best formulas to feed a neonatal kitten. Do not give a kitten cow's milk, except in an emergency. If you cannot obtain KMR immediately, use the following emergency recipe for up to 24 hours only. In an emergency, call, a veterinarian, or check a local pet store for kitten formulas. Visit www.1888PETS911.org for humane societies in your area.

    Emergency Recipe
  • 2/3 cup homogenized whole milk
  • 3 raw egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • 1 dropper pediatric liquid vitamins

Warm the formula in a nursing bottle or medicine dropper by placing the bottle or dropper into a cup or bowl of hot water. Test the formula on the underside of your wrist to check the temperature. If it feels too warm or too cold on your wrist, it will feel the same for the kitten. If the formula is too hot, wait until the formula cools down. If the formula is too cold, continue soaking the bottle or dropper in hot water. Always be sure to test the formula again before giving it to the kitten.
Place the kitten on her stomach at a 45-degree angle (just as a kitten would nurse from the mother) and let her nurse until she turns her head. Do not hold the kitten's head back, and do not hold her on her back as you would a human baby, because the kitten could aspirate formula into her lungs. Avoid getting air into the kitten's tummy by holding the bottle at an angle to keep liquid toward the nipple. Pulling back slightly on the bottle will help trigger the kitten's sucking reflex. Never squeeze the bottle to force milk to come out. Do not panic if the kitten does not eat the first day. She may be more accustomed to her mothers' milk, which is quite rich, and can sustain her for a longer time than replacement formulas. (If she is still not eating after 24 hours, seek veterinary assistance immediately. She may need to be force fed through a tube. Never attempt tube feeding yourself if you are unfamiliar with this procedure. If done improperly, esophageal or stomach damage, and even death can result.) Important: After the kitten's stomach is full, it is necessary to stimulate her to help her eliminate. A kitten does not have the ability to do this until they are three weeks old. Stimulate by taking a wet, lukewarm, but not hot, washcloth or paper towel and gently massage the anal region in a small circular or back-and-forth motion. You may want to hold kitten over a towel or sink while stimulating her.

Feeding Schedule This is a general guideline. A kitten will eat more often or less often, depending on the kitten. The label on the container of kitten formula you purchased should indicate the recommended amount to feed a kitten according to body weight. If a kitten cries, she is either cold or hungry. A contented kitten sleeps quietly.
Kitten Pic
    Age in Weeks/Feedings per day
  • 1 week old - needs 6 feedings per day
  • 2 weeks old - needs 6 feedings per day
  • 3 weeks old - needs 4 feedings per day
  • 4 weeks old - needs 3 feedings per day

Never overfeed a kitten Some kittens will eat and eat as long as food is offered to them. Follow the instructions and guidelines on the container of kitten formula. When the kitten is three to four weeks old, you can begin weaning the kitten with baby food (GERBER Chicken, Turkey or Beef) or canned kitten food mixed with KMR.


Home at Last Animal Rescue
P.O. Box 2261
Berkeley, CA 94702-0261
Phone: 510- 237-1625
Email: info@homeatlastrescue.org

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