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Unhealthy Kittens with Mom (Age 0-4 Weeks)
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As soon as possible, a sick kitten should be seen and evaluated by a veterinarian, but kittens don’t always appear at convenient times. There are steps you can take to help them survive even before going to the vet. With every basic action of kitten care you're able to take, you are increasing their chances of survival.

STEP 1: Move Kittens Indoors


If mom or kittens are difficult to catch, follow the below trapping instructions:

Ideas for Kitten Spaces:

  • Bathroom

  • Spare Bedroom

  • Small Playpen or Crate

  • Garage

  • A Friend's or Family Member's Home

STEP 2: Warm the Kittens


Young kittens cannot regulate their own body temperature. Help mom and babies stay safe by keeping them warm.


Options for keeping kittens warm:

These should feel warm, but not hot, to your touch. Make sure they have space to get off of the heat in case they get too warm.

  • Electric Heating Pad

  • Hot Water Bottle

  • Rice-Filled Sock Warmed in the Microwave

STEP 3: Care for Family


Kittens may be unhealthy because mom is not producing enough milk or is sick herself.

Feed Mom Cat:

Kitten food provides extra calories and nutrients for mom.

  • Canned Kitten Food

  • Dry Kitten Food

  • Fresh Water in a Shallow Dish (to prevent drowning)

Shopping List:

You can find these at your local Walmart, Tractor Supply, or other local market.

  • Bottle or Syringe

  • Kitten Milk Replacer or make your own formula

Feeding Instructions:

  • Mix powdered kitten formula: 1 part powder to 2 parts water

    • If your kittens have diarrhea or are dehydrated, replace at least one part of the water with unflavored electrolyte solution (ex. Pedialyte) to rehydrate the kittens  

  • ​It's best to feed small amounts very frequently, rather than with a lot of food with long periods between feedings​

  • ​A tiny amount of corn syrup, honey, or other simple sugars can be used to raise a kitten's blood sugar if you suspect it maybe low

STEP 4: Provide Bathroom Assistance


Normally mom cat would help her kittens go poop and pee, check that mom is tending to her babies. If not, you will need to help kittens go potty.


Litter Box (for mom):

  • Low-Sided Box or Aluminum Pan

  • Non-Clumping Pellet Litter (usually made of pine or paper)

STEP 5: Weigh the Kittens


Weigh the kittens daily (a kitchen scale in grams works well). They should be steadily gaining weight.

WATCH FOR: Weight loss that goes for more than a day or a lack of weight gain for more than a few days.

STEP 6: Socialize the Kittens


Handle the kittens 1-2 times a day, they will quickly socialize.

STEP 7: Kitten Health Care


Common Health Issues:

  • Upper Respiratory Infection   

  • Intestinal Worms or Other Parasites  

  • Malnutrition


  • Any other cats seen in the area you found the kittens should also be fixed in order to stop the cycle of kittens being born outside

  • Weight Requirement: 2-3 lbs (2-3 months old) for healthy kittens

  • Talk with your vet to see if they can help offset costs or find your local low-cost spay and neuter clinic

For Additional Support:

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