Unhealthy Kittens without Mom (Age 9+ Weeks)
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.
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:
Small Playpen or Crate
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
STEP 4: Set Up A Litter Box
Check that your kittens are going to the bathroom on their own after eating. If they are not, follow the stimulating kittens button below.
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
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 8: Rehome Kittens
Once your kittens are 2-3 months old, rehoming is your best option for finding them a new family.