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Unhealthy Kittens without Mom (Age 5-8 Weeks)

Healthy kittens at this age are mobile, playful, and transitioning to eating all on their own, but still learning! It is best if these kittens remain with their siblings for the next few weeks to learn these lessons.

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


Kittens at this age can regulate their own temperature, but it's nice to keep them cozy.

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 should be eating on their own, but if sick they may need feeding support.

Start By offering a small amount of canned kitten food mixed with water.

  • Mix in unflavored electrolyte solution (ex. Pedialyte) with wet food to rehydrate the kittens

Not Eating? Offer kitten formula in small amounts, very frequently.

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

    • Diarrhea or Dehydration: Replace one part of the water with unflavored electrolyte solution (ex. Pedialyte) to rehydrate the kittens  

    • Still Not Eating? Mix goat's milk in with wet food

    • Low Blood Sugar: Mix a tiny amount of corn syrup, honey, or other simple sugars in with wet food

  • Check the Stomach Capacity Chart and feed the kittens based on weight, rather than age

Offer Fresh Water in 2-3 Shallow Bowls

Ensure it is shallow enough to prevent drowning.


STEP 4: Set Up A Litter Box

Litter Boxes:

  • 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 7: Kitten Health Care


Common Health Issues:

See your vet if you suspect your kitten is experiencing any of these 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:

  • Text "HELPLINE" to 323-861-3364 to sign up for a kitten fostering mentor

  • Join one of the below Facebook Groups:

STEP 8: 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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