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Felinexpress.com Home > Kitten Care > Orphaned Kitten

Caring for an Orphaned Kitten

In alarming numbers, increasing yearly, orphaned or abandoned kittens are found by well-meaning folk. Since the creation of one of my websites www.kitten-rescue.com this fact slams home to me every kitten season as I receive dozens of emails from folks asking the same question:

I found an abandoned kitten outside. What do I do now?

If you happen to find a kitten outside (alone or with other kittens) with no mom cat nearby, do not hesitate. Bring the kitten(s) inside. This holds true especially if:

  • Hash weather conditions exist
  • There is a threat of outside predators
  • The kitten is exposed in a public place
  • The kitten appears sick
  • There are runny or gummy eyes
  • The kitten has nose discharge
  • The kitten is missing patches of fur
  • The umbilical cord is still attached
  • The kitten is flea-ridden (if you can see the fleas with the naked eye)
  • The kitten is weak or lethargic
  • The kitten’s eyes are closed.
  • The kitten has greasy or unkempt fur
  • The kitten is injured
  • You find the kitten in the middle of nowhere or at the side of a busy road

Once you bring the kitten inside the FIRST priority is WARMTH.

Put the kitten in a small cardboard box with a heat source. Put the box somewhere away from drafts and other foot traffic. Keep all pets and small children away from the kitten until the kitten goes to the vet.  Be sure the sides of the box are taped up high enough that the kitten can’t escape.

Never use a human heating pad for a kitten unless you cover the pad first.

  • Be sure you allow the kitten a way to get off the heat if he needs to
  • Pet heating pads are the best as they evenly distribute heat
  • Microwave pads work but they are short-term.

 Other alternative heat sources:

  • Make a kitty heater:
  • Take an old sock (no holes) fill it with regular rice (not the quick -cooking type)
  • Tie the end of the sock in a knot
  • Microwave for 20 seconds, wrap in a washcloth and tuck it down near kitten

If you are an outdoorsman, you can use the pocket warmer packs that hunters stick into their pocket to keep their hands warm. Be sure and wrap the warmer up in a dry rag first before putting it in the box for a heat source.

If you need supplies, take a thick dry towel and cycle it in your dryer (with no other clothes) for about 20 minutes. Put the warm towel over the top of the box that the kitty is in, leaving a small space for air. Tuck the towel down unto the cardboard box sides with clothespins. This method will deliver heat to a cold kitten for 15 minutes tops- most kittens need to be directly on the heat source. While you are at the store don’t forget the kitten formula, bottles, supplements, canned kitten food or dry kitten food, cat litter whatever the kitten needs to survive.

How old is this abandoned kitten?

Birth to 2 weeks old-
Kitten is deaf and blind and able to crawl just a little. If umbilical cord is attached, the kitten is less than four days old. Never pull off the umbilical cord, it will crumble and fall off on its own. If it is bleeding or showing discharge call your vet. This age kitten needs Kitten Formula every two hours 24/7. NO cow’s milk. If you have to give the kitten milk, get goat’s milk. You can find it in most grocery stores powdered in the baking aisle. Do NOT feed baby formula unless you dilute it at least by half with water. The kitten will be unable to pee and poop without your help.

5-10 days old-
Eyes are opened; the kitten will walk but may wobble a bit. (There is a chance that the wobble is caused by not enough sugar in the kitty’s system.) Give the kitty a small taste of white Karo Syrup several times a day to see if it stops wobbling. Kitty will shiver when he is cold or scared. He won’t be able to pee or poop unless he is stimulated.

(This kitten needs Kitten Formula every two hours 24/7) NO cow’s milk. If you have to give the kitten milk, get goat’s milk. You can find it in most grocery stores in powdered form in the baking aisle. Do NOT feed baby formula unless you dilute it by half with water.

2-3 weeks old-
Eyes and ears are opened. Can purr and walk about. Baby teeth show at edge of gum line. Will pee and poop on its own usually after a bit of encouragement. Still needs to be bottle-fed but only 5-6 times a day.

4-5 weeks old-
Most abandoned kittens will eat on their own by now. Start the kitten off with turkey or chicken baby food. Crush up some Kitten Chow and put it nearby in a plate. Put a small amount of the *baby food on the kitten’s mouth and let the kitten lick it off. Then put a small amount of baby food into a small jar lid. Hold it up to the kitten’s face so he can smell it. He should follow the smell of the food down to the floor and start eating. If not, you can finger feed him- just be careful not to get bit. Wash your hands before and after feeding!

*on a personal note, I have had kittens as young as two-weeks old take to baby food better than formula* Just be sure the baby food doesn’t have anything else in it- like onions, cornstarch or onion powder.

6-7 weeks old-
This is the normal age most folks wean kittens. The kitten needs to be fed several times a day; good quality kitten food both dry and wet. Pet fountains encourage drinking. The kitten will use the litter pan on his own- you need several pans. Use the aluminum foil baking pans (throwaways). You get four cheap at any good grocery store. Use them all and use PLAIN CLAY litter only. Keep the litter pans far enough away from the food and water to not cause health issues, but not so far away that the kitten can’t see the pans from where he is eating.

Your kitten depends on you for everything; food, water, litter pan control, comfort, play, prey and to provide vet care. He may be afraid of you at first and hiss and spit and try to bite you, but you can win him over by ignoring his bluffing and seeing to his needs. Do not make direct eye contact with this kitten and don’t pick him up if he doesn’t want you to (unless you are bottle feeding.)

You are welcome to send additional kitty questions to catsatrisk@comcast.net   if you need further help.

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