Orphaned Kittens

It’s kitten season! While our first instinct is to gather the kittens and take them home immediately, stop for a moment and check out these tips about helping orphaned kittens.

  1. Be sure the kitten is abandoned. Mother cats have to hunt for their food and can leave their kittens for a few hours while doing so. Some mothers may move their kittens to different locations to ensure their safety. If the kittens are clean, plump, and quiet, they’re okay, and mom is nearby.
  2. Observe from a distance. If you are concerned that the mother might not return, watch the nest by being careful not to get too close. If the mother cat smells human scent near her nest, she may become too frightened to come back and care for her kittens. Kittens usually need to eat every 4 to 6 hours, so if it’s been 12 hours since you found them and the mother hasn’t returned, then it may be time to intervene.
  3. Warm them up. Kittens less than three weeks old can’t control their own body temperature. To warm orphaned kittens, prepare a nest lined with towels and put a heating pad or hot water bottle under the towels. Be sure to leave a space where they can crawl away if they get too hot.
  4. Be prepared not to get much sleep. If the kittens are under four weeks of age, you will need to bottle feed them every 2-4 hours around the clock, then wipe their genital area with a cloth to stimulate them to urinate and defecate. A commercial kitten milk replacer, such as KMR, provides the best nutrition. Kittens 4 weeks and older can be offered a gruel of milk replacer and kitten food.

Remember, when rescuing orphaned kittens, you have taken a pledge to care for these kittens until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Contact local rescue groups or animal shelters for assistance if you cannot fulfill this pledge. https://www.stjosephcountymi.org/animalcontrol/

For more information, visit the link below to be directed to https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951456