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Healthy Kittens without Mom (Age 0-4 Weeks)
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With as young as these kittens are, they need your help if they are going to survive. Many people incorrectly assume that taking the kittens to an animal shelter is the best option, however shelters don’t have the staff, resources or space to care for kittens. The kitten’s best chance of survival is with you.

STOP: Look for Mom

Move kittens if in immediate danger, mom will not mind if they are handled by humans.

If kittens are safe but you can't find mom, pour a ring of flour around the kittens and look for flour footprints after a few hours.

At this young age, their best chance at survival is with mom.

Kitten Care Steps:


STEP 1: Move Kittens Indoors

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 regular their own body temperature. Start warming them by using your body heat.


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: Feed the Kittens


Kittens of this age need to be bottle fed.

At around four weeks they might be starting to wean but may not completely be eating on their own.

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  

  • Feed 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. If they do not have a mom, they will need your help to go poop and pee once they are done eating.

Stimulating Kittens:

This is CRITICAL when caring for young kittens without their mother.

  1. Gather tissue or toilet paper

  2. Hold your kitten steady with one hand

  3. Rub the genital region in a circular motion with the tissue until they pee

  4. Continue rubbing until they are no longer peeing, 10-40 seconds

  5. If they need to poop, stimulate the kitten's bottom while they are pushing

  6. Continue until they are finished pooping

  7. Repeat at every feeding


Litter Boxes:

Only use this once kittens start "going" on their own.

  • 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: Kitten Health Care


Assessing Kitten Health:


  • 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

STEP 7: Rehome Kittens


Once your kittens are 2-3 months old, rehoming is your best option for finding them a new family. 

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