Oct 19, 2008

Feral Kitten How-To - Care, Feeding, Keeping Your Kitten Alive!

What To Do With A Rescued Kitten

1. Small kittens need kitten formula milk to drink. Cows milk will not give them the nutrition they need. You must get a formula for kittens, which fortunately is available at pet stores, Fred Meyer and farm stores everywhere. It comes pre-made in small boxes with long shelf life and in powder formula. If you get powder, follow the directions carefully and blend thoroughly.
Use fresh kitten milk every day, heated to around 105 degrees F (this feels warm on your wrist, not cool, not really hot). I usually put the bottle in a bowl of warm water to heat it, making sure that the water doesn't get into the bottle through the nipple. Don't use a microwave (same rule for human babies). BTW, you can get the kitten bottles at the same place as you got the formula. Be sure to carefully snip off the very end of the nipple (they don't come with holes in them and just poking one with a needle doesn't give enough flow).
The first few times, your little kitten will need encouragement. The nipple won't feel right to him/her, and the milk doesn't taste right. Keep trying to gently get the nipple into the mouth, stroke the kitten gently, sometimes very lightly squeeze the bottle to get things started. With your help, she'll soon learn that the bottle means warm milk, and she'll get very excited when she sees it.

Holding the kitten when feeding: You have to hold the kitten kind of upright, as if it were sitting up on its haunches - not on its back. This is compromise between nature and human technology. Kittens naturally nurse lying on their bellies and snuggled up to momma, but you can't get a bottle to flow at that angle. The bottle has to be angled downward so milk can flow into the nipple. Yet if you put them on their backs, they could choke. The compromise, therefore, is that you hold them upright so you can angle the bottle correctly for milk flow. (NOTE: If a kitten is very tiny and/or weak then it becomes trickier. You will need to allow the kitten to have its head downward to avoid drowning it - then you will squeeze the bottle very gently until milk flows into its mouth. This is messy but necessary with very weak kittens).
You will have middle of the night feedings for kittens younger than about 4 weeks. At 4 weeks, you may be able to get them to wait until morning for a feeding as long as you have a late feeding just before your bed time.. How to tell the age of the kitten.

One more thing related to feeding very young kittens: After feeding, use a paper towel soaked in warm water to remove milk from around the mouth. THEN use the paper towel to wipe the anal area gently, back and forth. This will cause the kitten to urinate on the paper towel. They need this help when they are very young. Momma cats do this, and it is necessary the first two or three of weeks of life. Once the kitten gets to be 4 weeks old or so, it will know to go potty on its own. Until then, you have to help.

2. Provide a warm place to sleep, in a safe place. A carrier with room for a sleeping spot and a feeding area is best, or a deep box. Don't just leave your kitten loose - you'll accidentally step on it in the night or it will get lost and hypothermic.
For warmth, I place a heating pad under ONE CORNER of the carrier and turn it on the lowest setting at night. I place a shirt I would otherwise discard in the corner on the inside so that the kitten has something soft to curl up in.
With small or sick kittens, I also fill a screw-top coke bottle with hot water, tightly cap it, place it inside a thick sweat sock and then put it in the box in or near the sleeping area. This provides extra warmth as well as something warm and soft to cuddle with.
There should always be room in the box for the kitten to move away from the heating pad if it gets too warm, and a newspaper to go potty on.
If your kitten becomes chilled, it will not only slow down, but it will also stop being interested in drinking its bottle. This can cause a downward spiral toward death. You can't fix everything that can go wrong with a little baby cat, but temperature regulation is one of the big things that can be fixed, along with feeding and flea control.

3. Remove fleas daily! This is much more critical than most people realize: Fleas cause anemia and can kill a kitten. This is one of the more common causes of death for abandoned kittens: Mother cats clean their babies many times a day, which removes most fleas. Without that attention, FLEAS CAN KILL A KITTEN over the space of just a few days.
You can't clean a kitten like the mom and you can't use flea medication or flea shampoo on a small kitten, but you CAN use a flea comb and gently brush it daily: Remove fleas with a flea comb. DO NOT USE FLEA COLLARS (EVER!) and don't use cat flea shampoo on young kittens. These things can kill them.
When you're at the pet store, get a flea comb (very tiny tines) and gently comb the kitten every day. I keep a bowl or cup of water next to me to drown the fleas that get caught in the comb.
While you're at it, groom little kittens like their mom: mimic the cleaning of mom cats using a barely damp washcloth and clean them all over their bodies with short strokes. In addition to keeping the little ones clean, it teaches the kittens how to groom themselves. Do this after each feeding, as this also stimulates bowel movements and is very important to their good health.
Advantage for cats under 9 lbs can be obtained from a farm supply store, a vet, or online - or Revolution (which also kills ear mites but you can only get it from a vet) can be used on kittens over 8 or 9 weeks of age - or a vet may even put it on a kitten as young as 4 weeks.
If your kitten suddenly wants to wander, if it becomes unusually hungry, if it gets weak and doesn't want to move around or eat, fleas may be causing anemia. It could be something else, but you should try to fix the things that human can fix, while accepting that sometimes there's nothing that can be done. Flea-caused anemia (which is fixable if caught early) has similar symptoms to acute feline leukemia, which you can't fix.

Other home flea remedies include a bath using Dawn dish soap and water. Fleas are repelled by its smell. However, you have to be very careful about the temperature of the water, and you have to rinse thoroughly. Also remember to dry the kitten carefully afterwards to prevent hypothermia. Another one, which I have not tried, is orange juice: Put some orange juice on a paper towel and wipe the kitten down with it. As with Dawn, the smell repels fleas and presumably the orange juice won't hurt the kitten when it bathes itself.  It has been suggested that you should do this outside because fleas will start hopping off as soon as you start wiping, and you don't want them in your house.

4. Take the baby to the vet when you can. Feral kittens usually have problems like ear mites and stomach parasites. Your vet can help you with all of that. The vet can't cure feline herpes (humans can't get this) or feline leukemia (also not contagious to humans), but there are many other things with which a vet can help. And let's be clear, being a GOOD pet owner means getting proper veterinary care for your pet. It's just a thing you need to think about. Routine care is not that expensive. If there's a bigger problem, then the costs can go up quickly and you'll have to decide what you can handle. While pet insurance isn't always an option for everyone, it's cheaper than people insurance, so you might want to research the issue, to have some safety net for vet bills. In an emergency, check with local rescue organizations to see if they can help.

5. Box training: I make a small "cat box" out of cardboard (or a shoe box) and put litter in it. And have this available in the kitten's sleeping box at all times. It can be as small as a checkbook at first and then you build them bigger as the kitten gets bigger. They will eventually learn to use the box naturally if you do this.

6. The Future: Once the kitten gets passed 5 weeks old, you need to let it loose more often so it can explore and grow. Kittens need socialization. This is also a time to try small cat toys.
If you are going to try to give away a kitten after putting this much work into it, make sure it goes to a good home. Trust no one. Verify. We just had s story on TV where a guy was adopting kittens to feed to his pitbull. Be kind and make sure your baby has a good home.
If you keep it, have it spayed/neutered between 5 and 6 months of age. If you live near a road or where dogs or coyotes run loose, it is best to keep your pet indoors. This is an area of controversy because it is often said that outdoor cats have richer lives. That's probably true, but you have to decide if your kitty is likely to be injured or killed. We like them to have rich lives but we don't want those lives to be cut short. My original pet kitty was killed by a neighbor's dog in her own front yard.

NOTE: If you spot very young kittens in the wild, it's hard to know what to do. I try to keep an eye out for mom but a lot of it is guesswork. In general, feral kittens have hard lives and most don't survive. On the other hand, if they're very young, their best chance for survival (as bad as it is) is often to stay with mom. Here is an article about that.

God bless you for being a rescuer. Whatever else you do in your life, you will have been a hero for one small soul... or two... or three. That makes you a gold star angel, in my opinion.  ...

If you have questions, I will try to answer them. Just use the comment form.

Other resources:
Here is another take on how to raise an orphaned/abandoned kitten.
And Friends of Feral Felines Kitten Care.

Try to be a good parent for your kitty - I know you will.


  1. Hello, I have recently rescued a small feral kitten, I have had her for 3 weeks. I think she was around 4-6 weeks old when I found her. But in the last few days I have noticed the mother cat and her other kittens in the area that I found Kizzy. In your opinion was it cruel to take only one from the litter. I didnt know there was more, and probably couldnt handle all of them anyhow. I just remind myslef of the life she would have lived had I not taken her. I love her soo much and wish I could help them all!

  2. Ashley, you did a good thing! Remember that most feral kittens don't even make it to the age of 6 months, let alone adulthood.

    Feral kittens live very miserable and dangerous lives; they're ALL sick and often hungry. Everything from raccoons to dogs and even stray tomcats prey upon them. Your kitten is better off with you, especially if you are a good parent for it.

    Be sure to get your kitten wormed as soon as possible by a vet! Almost all feral kittens (99 percent) have roundworms.

    A flea treatment with Revolution would also be good. If Revolution is too expensive, you can probably get Advantage for kittens under 9 pounds at a local farm supply store or online. Just follow the directions.

    Make sure your kitten has a safe place to sleep, and some good food and water, and it will be happy. You probably already do all of those things. :) Toys are nice, too. Kittens love to have things to play with.

    Good luck! And thank you for being a good person.

  3. Thank you for your advice. I hadnt thought of roundworms, I was told if she had some type of worms it would have been obvious by now, so I will get her in to the vet as soon as possible! Also I'm not sure on when to completely quit bottle feeding her, I feed her wet food mixed with dry food 2 times a day, along with multiple bottles of her kitten formula. I'm worried if I add more solid food and less bottle she will get dehydrated, because she doesn't really seem interested in drinking water from a dish. She was acting lethargic last night, so I gave her a couple ounces of water from her bottle and she perked right up.... neddless to say I worried about her all night. I can't tell you how many times I looked in her cat carrier throughout the night. But she is back to her playful self today and I am making sure she is getting plenty of fluid from her bottle. We all love our "titten" (as my 2 year old son would say) and any more helpful advice you can give would be great! Thank's!!

  4. Ashley,

    If your kitten was about the age you were thinking she might be, she should be off the bottle by now. It's sometimes hard to tell ages, though: The vet can let you know how old your kitten is, and that will help you decide if it is time to give up the bottle.

    In general, momma cats start weening their babies around 6 weeks of age or so and usually have them eating all solid food by 8 to 10 weeks.

    The lethargy might well be due to roundworms as this is a very common symptom. There is a stool test that can be done but often vets stick to a simple 'palpation' test of running their fingers across the kitten's stomach from chest to back legs, and back again. As you press down slightly in the abdominal area, it should feel pretty soft and squishy, if you feel any kind of rope-like thing...like you can feel your kitten's intestines, that's worms. But your vet can handle all of that. Fortunately, roundworms are easy to treat; just two doses (10 days apart) of some white icky-tasting medicine does the trick. :)

    About the water; try bowl of *cold* fresh water during the day. Sometimes cats are really picky about water being cold. It might help in getting your kitten to drink more.

  5. I rescued 1 baby at @ 2 weeks of age and plan to get the other 4 away from the feral momma this weekend. ( they are now 4 weeks old) Is this a good time? I dont want to get them too soon, but want to make sure they have a good shot at being nice and tame for adoption. Also, the one kitten I've had for 2 weeks has only stooled twice as far as I can tell. Her belly isnt distended and she acts very lively. Any suggestions? ( She voids after each feed with wiping her.) Also, how soon should I get them to a vet? Thanks!

  6. I have rescued a litter of kittens from a feral mother cat. I already have 3 cats of my own, and I don't want to put their health at risk. I keep the kittens in a seperate room, wash my hands between handling and even try to cover my clothes when handling the kittens. At what age can I get them tested for any contagious diseases?(and possibly integrate them into my household if necessary) Your site has been very helpful! thank you

  7. Well, remember at 4 weeks they still need to be bottle fed. That's a lot of work for all those babies! At 5 weeks or so, they still need kitten milk but you can start introducing soft canned cat food. It's hard to say, otherwise; it depends on how confident you are that you can catch them if you wait longer. And of course you'll want to make sure you can find homes for them.

    For the kitten you're caring for now; if she seems healthy and active then it's probably just because she isn't eating solid food yet (and won't be for a while). It sounds like you're keeping a pretty good eye on her so you'll know if anything is wrong.

    As far as vet visits: Feral kittens almost always have roundworms. You might want to call your vet to see how soon your kitten(s) can be examined and treated. These babies are still pretty young, though. I've given antibiotics to very young kittens when they needed it but flea and worm treatments may be a few weeks off yet. Definitely check with your vet about that.

    Thank you for your good work.

  8. can I integrate two feral kittens (12 weeks) into my home and with my dog ? They same to be bonding well with me and I have only been working with them a week, they have just been fixed.
    I am worried about health issues and social issues. Thanks for your help.

  9. It depends on mostly on your dog. If your dog is definitely cat friendly then it's probably fine. The kittens are very small so I wouldn't leave them alone with your dog at first. Give them a chance to get used to each other.

    I'm surprised you got them fixed already; most vets won't do that before the age of 5 or 6 months.

    Your vet can tell you if there are any disease issues. While cats and dogs can share fleas, most cat illnesses aren't transmittable to dogs or people. The reverse isn't always true: People can give a cat human flu.

  10. Hello,I found your blog to be wonderfully informative,I have raised quite a few orphan kittens and your blog pretty much has everything. I also post on The Daily Kitten.
    I was wondering if I could post your blog on raising ferals as a resource.

  11. Thank you and thank god I found you. Since I moved here to Waterford CA (near Modesto CA) I have never seen so many hungry, sick feral cats. I am feeding and trying to care for about 15 outside right now but there is a momma cat with 4 babies that I have tried to make confortabe in my back near garage. The babies are about 8 weeks but 2 of them have the eye weeping and respitory problems I can hear. I don't have the money to take them all to the vet and the Humane Society here will probably put to sleep. Is there anything I can do to help this little kitten. The Mother seems tame and she also has a weeping eye. Is there anything to do about this? I am on Unemployment myself and have tried to make sure they always have food, water and a warm place to sleep but don't know what to do about health issues and even at Aleey Cat Rescue, they want $20 per cat plus $20 for cage after you trap them. Help? And God Bless you and anyone helping these innocent creatures.

  12. I'd call around to local rescue groups or even to groups in nearby towns to see if they can refer you to a cat lady who can help. Sadly, there aren't enough homes to go around but you may be able to find someone locally to help you get them fixed - which is very important.

  13. If i trap one feral kitten in a humane trap will it scare the other two from going into the trap when i reset it.I think there is two to three and i'd like to get them all as their mother was killed and they are hiding under a shed, they will eat the cat food i put out for them but only when i've left.I need to trap them quick as the farmer will kill them if he see's them. Thanks for al the info.

  14. One trapping method uses fishing line; you can trap several kittens at once this way. You'll need to set the trap near the kittens but next to a vertical surface where you can run fishing line upward to hold the trap open, then to a nearby tree or your car or something else you can hide behind. There will be a lot of tension on the line from holding the trap open. When all the kittens are inside, just cut the line. Done.

  15. We grabbed a kitten, one of three, living by our porch. One kitten didn't seem to be doing well, and seemed to have only one eye, but it just turned out to be pink eye (probably F. herpes). The vet thought 5 weeks--its weight is at 4 weeks but it has all of its teeth (6 wks), so they split it. Not eating much, and hasn't pooped in 24 hours. The cat I presume to be the mother does not look like it is nursing at all (and hasn't for the 3 days since they moved to our porch area).

    Questions: If the kitten doesn't seem to like formula in a dish, do I try the eye dropper at this age, or trust it will figure things out? When should I be worried about the lack of BMs? Do I grab the other 2 kittens? (I feel kind of bad about the mother--is it freaking out already?--and I don't think we can keep all three cats...not sure we can keep one).

  16. Oh yeah--only reason I didn't put him back with the mother is b/c of the eye treatment. Vet said 10 days of drops and hot compresses. It hadn't occurred to me to interfere with the ecosystem of the alley.

  17. ROK, thank you for rescuing this kitten.

    I might have missed this in what you said but hopefully the vet treated the kitten for intestinal parasites. Almost all of them have them, and that would be a reason for not pooping. That's my only worry here. A kitten could also have an obstructed bowel for other reasons but vets are pretty good at figuring that out.

    You might try some smelly canned cat food, to see if it will eat anything, maybe the kind with bits of stuff in gravy. If it were only 4 weeks old, I'd say you have to bottle feed it but at 5 or 6 it might eat soft food. It's worth a try and if it doesn't work then you'll have to give it a bottle of kitten milk.

    You know, if you can find homes or are able to adopt them yourselves, I'd think about grabbing all of the kittens. Even if you can't raise them yourself, there are usually local organizations that can help.

    Mom may look for them but she doesn't enjoy living in the alley either; cats are more often dumped in alleys than born there. A local rescue organization may be able to live-trap the mom and get her spayed so this won't happen again. That would be great. Or you can do it yourself, as I discuss elsewhere. Either way, I hope you can get the mom fixed!

    You can also try to see if there are local rescue organizations that can help you with adoptions. Usually, there's something around that will help - you may have to foster them for a bit is all. Avoid ASPCA/public shelters; they tend to keep animals a few days and then kill them.

    And again... thank you for caring.

  18. I have a young stray cat who has been living under my house for about 6 months now. I feed her and she sneaks the dogs food when the dog is indoors. Two days ago I found a single kitten in our run down garage. It was cold but still alive. I picked it up and rubbed it and held it against me until it was warm and yelling. I tried to return it to the mother with no luck. By what I have read the kitten is about 9 to 10 days old. The eyes are starting to open and the umbilical cord has fallen off.

    I sent my husband to buy kitten formula at our local feed store. The bottle he got seems hard for the baby to get milk out of. I have now cut the tip off and the baby seems to be eating. I can not tell how much and I am unsure if he is getting enough. He eats for a minute or two then spits out the bottle. He will then roam looking for it again. I try to reintroduce it but he keeps pushing it away. I assume that means he has enough but needs cuddling. I clean him up then put him in the crate I bought. He sleeps well.

    Three to four hours later I will check on him and as soon as I touch him he wakes and begins to cry, but he doesn't seem to wake up and cry between meals unless I stimulate him with a touch. Is that normal ? or should I worry ?

    He is going potty when stimulated with a warmed hypoallergenic baby wipe. I made sure it had no alcohol in the wipes before I purchased them. He goings poop but to me it seems really soft, he is not using the bathroom in his crate so I don't know if he has diahhera or just soft stools. I can not find any information to tell me what his stools should look like at this age to gage if I need to take him to the vet or not. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  19. You're doing fine. Thank you for helping this kitty! Poop is going to be soft because the kitten lives on milk at this age. Kittens at that age require frequent, small feedings, and mostly they sleep a lot in between. If the amount of milk in the bottle is going down some each time and the kitten doesn't seem to be getting weaker, then you're probably okay. It's going to be two or three weeks before it gets to an age where it wants to stay awake and play.

    As mentioned in my posts, you can assume that all feral kittens have worms and fleas, so a trip to the vet is a good idea at some point. I'm not sure what the youngest age for worm treatments is, but if you can afford a vet visit then an initial checkup is probably in order.

    In the meantime you can use a flea comb to remove fleas and eggs. This is important because anemia caused by parasites is probably the greatest killer of kittens.

    There may be more kittens around somewhere and mom just lost track of the one, so keep your eyes open. Also, the mom should be live-trapped and taken in for spaying in about 8 weeks, so check around locally to see if you can find someone to help you with that.

    And, thank you again for your kindness! The world needs more people like you.

  20. I have a kitten who by my best guess is 5 weeks old tomorrow. I have started feeding him canned food mixed with either water or forumla. He will eat some of it, then he wants the bottle. I give him the bottle after he has eaten the food. What I need to know is how often do I feed the canned food and how often do I give the bottle. Also is it safe for me to completely wean him from the bottle by 6 weeks.

    He is very insistant that I give him that bottle. He knows who his mommie is and will find me and cry until he gets the bottle, even after he has had canned food. He also thinks I should feed him when he wakes up no matter how long it has been. I can feed him at 4 am and if he goes back to sleep and sleeps til 6am he wants food when he wakes up. How do I break that habit.He is going to be fat at this rate.

  21. Weening seems like a difficult time, for me, so I sympathize. If your kitten just turned 5 weeks old, it's a bit soon to stop, but it's a good time to start tapering off. One thing I do is to reduce the milk supply gradually. In other words, have a little less milk in the bottle, so it's not quite as filling or satisfying.

    Also, you can try substituting more play and cuddle time here and there, remembering that the bottle isn't just food, it's love and comfort. Skip a feeding by just offering a saucer of warm formula (plus play/cuddle time, of course). Your kitten wants you as much as it wants the kitten milk. Over the next couple of weeks you can make the formula amounts smaller and less frequent until you finally stop. Your baby will still look but since it's gotten used to those feedings being less satisfying, it won't be quite so frantic; especially if it always knows it can get love instead.

  22. I rescued a kitten today that my daughter found close to the main road at the end of our driveway. She was with an adult cat which I am assuming is the mother. I was able to capture the baby but could not get the mother to come. I looked everywhere for other kittens but did not find any. I am not sure why there are not others. Anyways, I have had her for 9 hours now and put her in a crate with a warm fleece blanket and a small lid with water and another with wet kitten food. I also placed a litter box outside the crate. She is very scared. She scratched me and tryed to get away when I held her earlier. So I have left her alone in the crate so she can get comfortable. She has recently started meowing. So I go sit by her and talk softly and she stops. Then within 5 to 10 min or so she does it again. This started about two hours ago. She will not eat even when I put the food at her and even rubbing some on her mouth. She hasn't went potty any either. I'm becoming very concerned. I read it is not good to handle her for a few days until she gets used to her surrondings but I am affraid she needs something and don't know what to do. Please help!!!!!!

  23. Blair, well... the kitten is alone for the first time in its little life so it's going to be scared and afraid to do anything.

    If it is young, it may need kitten milk. Hard to say, but I would think if it scratched and tried to escape that it's probably old enough to start solid food. It may have never eaten solid food before, though, you might try warming up a little milk to baby bottle temperature and mixing some wet cat food with it. See if you can spoon feed it a little. We don't want to do too much with cows milk but for a situation like this (unless you have kitten milk handy) we can try it.

    Make sure it stays warm enough (but not too warm, of course). I wrote about some of this in my article.

  24. I would like to say thank you Chriss Pagani for all of your information and taking the time to answer questions. I recently raised a kitten from 3 days old up to 12 weeks (which is his age now) and I referred to your site many times to answer questions I had. I do not know if Milo would be alive today had this site not existed. I just wanted you to know how thankful I am and how valuable your information is.

  25. You're welcome, Paula ...and, thank you! I really appreciate the encouragement. :)

  26. We rescued 4 feral kittens, about 3 weeks old, and I am so worried of feeding too much or not enough. I just can't seem to find an absolute answer on how to know. They are all about 8 ounces and very healthy. I have not been able to poop, they pee really well. I have had them for 3 days now, and cannot get them to poop. I have stimulated, but no luck. I did give them some pumpkin from the can (per my vet). And, one more thing..I am feeling sooo guilty, the mother cat came looking for her babies. I thought she left them, but now she is around and I feel horrible! Thank you for any advice., Loretta

  27. Oh, that's a rough one. Thank you. Loretta, for helping the kitties! It sounds like you're doing the stuff one needs to do, so I'm not sure what the problem might be. A vet should be able to tell if they have intestinal blockage or whatever. Maybe they're going when you don't see them? At 3 weeks old, they might just be going potty when they feel like it. And there won't be much in the way of solids for evidence because they're on a milk diet.

    I know how you feel about the mom. I'd be very sad, too. Maybe you can live-trap her?

    In general, if I find kittens I try to make sure mom isn't with them. If I make a mistake and it's early enough, I try to return them. It's probably been too long for that, though. The best bet is to try to rescue the mom via trapping, so she can be spayed and maybe have a better life.

    Here's an article about do's and dont's when you find young kittens: http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/wordpress/2013/05/what-to-do-and-not-do-if-you-find-a-newborn-kitten/

    I know it doesn't help much, now, but it will help others in the future.

  28. Hello,

    Earlier this week we rescued three kittens who's ferral mother was chased off by the grounds keeper.
    The largest is almost fully litter trained.
    The middle one is fully healthy and starting to get it.

    However, mine, who happens to the runt of the litter is not eating as much as the other two, he is not as playful, but still very affectionate, affectionate loves to muzzle in my neck in purr.

    Should I be worried about my little Apollo's lack of appetite and rambunctious, or is that simply a matter of him being younger/smaller than his brothers?

    Thank you,

  29. Spencer; it's not necessarily cause for concern, if the kitten is not getting skinny or otherwise acting sickly. Just like people, cats can vary among individuals in regard to metabolism and temperament. However, they should all have vet checkups if you haven't done so already. Feral kittens usually have problems with worms and other parasites, which need to be treated.

  30. I have rescued a little feral kitten who I think is about 3 or 4 weeks old. I had been feed the mom and his four siblings for a week now. They were behind my fence in an alley way between my property and the apartment behind my property. When I went out this morning to feed them, the mom and others were gone, with just the little runt of the litter there. He is eating some canned food and loves my dog, but I am concerned that my almost 20 year old Main Coon will have a hard time accepting him in the home. He slapped at the little one when I went home to check on them at lunch time. Any advise would be appreciated.

  31. Well, if it's only four weeks old, you'll need to also feed it kitten milk. And make a vet appointment so the kitten can be treated for fleas and intestinal parasites.

    As far as your adult kitty; I'm sure he's fixed, right? Adults will often swat lightly at a kitten to keep it away, but that's about it. Only unfixed toms are a serious danger. I'd still keep them separate as much as you can for awhile. Give your adult kitty lots of attention too and they will be fine in the long run.

    Thank you for helping the kitties!

  32. My kitty was about 3-ish weeks old when I found him. He fell roughly 15 ft from a tree across the street from my house and miraculously suffered no injuries apart from an eye that won't seem to open. He was doing great up until a day or so ago when he started to refuse his bottle and then today he barely moves and I've found a LOT of fleas on him. I can't get them off him and I'm afraid he's going to die. What should I do?

  33. You should take your kitten to a vet right away. He's probably very anemic from the fleas. A vet can probably give your kitten a flea treatment and and vitamins. If you can't get him into a vet instantly, at least get a flea comb (available at any store with a pet section) - it has very fine teeth and you can comb the fleas out of his fur. This is a pretty dire situation, for sure, but hopefully you'll try all this stuff.

    I've lost a few kittens this way, sadly. :( It's a very difficult situation. Just do what you can, as I'm sure you already are.

  34. I recently got a kitten from my aunt's house she said it was roughly 8 weeks old. I took her to the vet to get a check up and she had ear mites, so she has been treated for that. Then her eye got all puffy so I took her back to the vet and he said she had an eye infection. Then yesterday she didn't eat or drink anything, I took her to the vet this morning, and he said she had a upper respiratory infection and gave her a steroid shot and a antibiotic shot. She still is not eating or drinking, I tried watering down some of the canned food they gave me and putting it below her nose, but she wasn't liking that and wanted to be left alone. He also gave me this Nutri stuff in a tub to try and give her that supposedly has a lot of nutrients in it, but it is so thick when I put it on her face she licks a little off but then just tries to rub it off with her paw. I tried giving her tuna/ and tuna water but she was not even interested in that. I'm getting rather nervous about her well being because she went from 2lbs on Saturday to 1.12lbs today (Thursday). I really appreciate any help you can give me, thank you.

  35. Natalie, well it sounds like you're doing the right stuff. I'd skip the tuna, but otherwise it's okay. If she's lost that much weight I'd be wondering if the vet maybe missed something and needs to check her out again!

    And while you're doing that, get some Kitten Milk replacement and bottle. She won't like the bottle if she was never bottle-fed, but you can get some nutrition in her that way. I use KMR for sick adult cats, too. Don't force it too hard because you don't want to accidentally drown her, but you can squeeze very small amounts into her mouth and give her plenty of time to swallow. It's a way you can help her until she feels better. Again, though, another vet visit is probably important.

  36. My kitten is limp She is just laying there. She cant swallow or meow, she will move her legs when I rub her tummy and I don't know what to do she was fine when we went to bed but this morning she cant move

  37. That's very sad, anonymous. I've had this happen with kittens and there are many possible causes, including diseases they are born with. If it's one of those, then probably nothing can be done, sadly. If it's anemia due to fleas, there might be an outside chance of fixing the problem - but I can't say that the outlook is good. Take your kitten to a vet if you can. And make sure any flea problems are taken care of.

  38. Thanks so much for ALL the advice. A neighbor could not keep up with the 2 hr feedings, etc, and put him in a box for animal control. He's 2 young for the Humane Society. I would like you to post some images so I can mush over how little he is. We're seeing the vet tomorrow. He looks a little bug-eyed.

  39. UPDATE from Anonymous Oct 1, 2014: We named him Rocky; he's fightin' to live, rocky start in life, rocky neighborhood in rocky city, and a rocky rescue. Anyhow, I got him to vet next day. Bug-eye look was conjunctivitis & inflammation of third eyelid. Also upper respiratory infection. Might be any kind of virus, so follow clean protocols. He's prob closer to 5 weeks, his teeth are developing nicely. Vet said I could start weaning anytime. I'm taking it slowly adding couple grams canned kitten food to milk ration. He never did suckle. Did find a brand with several nipples to try: GNC Newborn Nursing kit by GNC Pets. Nother place to try anyhow. After a couple days, found that a different eyedropper worked best: rounded softer tip. I hold him close and drop milk on this tongue. I guess we both learning. Vet said 4-6 hour schedule would be alright, but because he is real dehydrated (had to have water under the skin at vets), I try to give him water between meals. I'm finally getting some sleep! He is not peeing or pooping often, usually so far only once a day for poop if we're lucky. Vet has me give him a few drops of corn oil. I use canola, dunno if olive is safe for him. I do rub his belly & genitals litely with warm water cotton. I figger this will resolve itself as he eats/drinks more. (BTW, I found a small thermos of hot water next to my bed lets me have warm water for several hours. And he loves the hot water bottle under his fluffy little blankey in the bed box) He can play a little with a toy or two, but likes my fingers best. And he can hop and run a bit and fall off the bed when I step out of the room. He's fine really. My older male cats (5 yrs) don't think much of him, so if he can't stay with us forever, he'll at least be weaned/litter trained for the lucky person or shelter to finally get him. Wish us luck, I really don't need another cat, but ...

  40. Thank you for taking such good care of your kitten! :) I hope you can keep him, really, because it's so hard to find good, safe homes.

  41. My vet said that feral queens may be likely to abandon their kits after those ever-so-sharp teeth come in. Rocky was pretty clean, no parasites or pests. I'm thinkin' he was an abandoned tame queen's kit. Bloody hell I can't get my good neighbors & friends to spay/neuter pets. Wish I had a rolled up newspaper for the Owners!

  42. Update Anonymous Oct 1: This seemed like a good site for feral kitten: http://www.feralfelines.net/fs_kittencare.htm No relation of course, and he covers a few things this site does not. Rocky the pest has started to wean himself! He came upon a few cat treats from my other cats and Crunched Them All Up. I'm still supplementing formula & water and showing him the teeny litterbox. He is trying to groom himself. He also likes to run the house. Yesterday we did 4 laps inside and also 4 laps around the front lawn. Boy he's fast. I am in awe as to how rapidly these changes occur. I'm supervising of course, if he gets under the fridge, I might have trouble getting him out. Thanks again to the community here.

  43. That's great! I will add that resource to the list. :)

  44. Hello my name is Quinton "Q" for short and I run Paw Town Cats Sanctuary in Niland, CA in Imperial valley we are on Slab city out in the middle of the desert we get a lot of feral kittens but their is a group I think a lot of people do not know about this group of cats are called "fearful friendly" these cats are use to being around humans but have been abuse dumped or abandon with kittens and the fear is so strong mama cat will run off and leave her kittens and never come back for them even if kittens start to cry so if you come across a litter of kittens and there is no mother cat check on them for three to five days if they are still there and their is no mother please take them in and care for them I have found abandon kittens left behind by a fearful friendly mama cat. =^..^=

  45. please help! I have a 2 week old kitten abandoned by it's mother. It's very tired and has been sleeping next to a warm hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. This morning I tried to feed him and again, he didn't want to eat. (He hasn't been eating and is really skinny). I squirted a few drops into his mouth and he started making a distress sound, I'm terrified maybe he inhaled the formula into his lungs? what do I do????????

  46. An emergency trip to the vet would be appropriate. The lack of appetite is a concern. We'd like to think that this is caused from not eating for a long time. A kitten can get into this cycle when their blood sugar level drops from lack of nutrition, and this causes loss of appetite. In that case, patience and care will help, with extra hydration from the vet.

    But it's not at all uncommon that various diseases cause this, and none of them have very good outcomes. I've rescued many many kittens, but unfortunately I've lost many as well. This a tough thing to even talk about. I can only say that you make a best effort to save the animal, and that's all you can do. If you can say "I did my best," then you did the right thing and should be proud of yourself, regardless of the outcome.

  47. I recently took in 2 baby kittens. The mother abandoned all 4 but only 2 were living when I found them. They are 2 weeks and 3 days old right now. The female is thriving just fine, but the male has not pooped in 3 days and he pees so much! He is usually soaked op yo his neck when I take him out to feed him. The vet mentioned pedialyte for the urine since the smell is so strong, but it still concerns me. He bloats very easily too.

  48. This sounds medically serious and a full work-up by a vet is needed. The constipation could be related to intestinal parasites, which are ubiquitous for feral kittens. That needs treatment. The peeing all the time is an even bigger concern and it sounds more like something infectious. Again, only a vet can figure this out and I would encourage you to take him in right away. Thank you for helping these kitties.

  49. I recently took in 4 tiny kittens. 4 weeks old give or take. They were doing great and then all of a sudden one just doesn't want to eat,walk or do anything. Acting lethargic. The others are fine. I recently moved and don't have work yet so I can't afford a very at the moment. I've been force feeding him to keep him going. And I flea them daily. What should I do?

  50. I've seen this happen with kittens and it can be heartbreaking. There are so many possible causes that really only a vet can help. And it's possible something is wrong with them that even a vet can't cure. I guess just make sure they're warm but not too warm, make sure they're going potty by wiping their butts with a damp paper towel several times a day - and then just hope for the best.

  51. Okay i'm not sure if this is were i say this or not.But i have a 5 week old kitten and need help on how to keel it alive this is its symptoms
    -only eats a little food at a time or none
    -drinks water on his own
    -Gets off my couch and walks to find a place to lay in the floor
    -looks like he has direhha.
    This may sound bad but we dont have the money to take him to the vet but we have had kittens in the past to get sick and most of them make it but some dont. Me and my family wanna know how to keep him alive.or should we just keep on doing what we are
    This is what were doing now
    -Letting it do what it wants
    -Keeping in on a heating pad (unless it gets off the couch and lays in the floor then we will leave it alone until we check on it and if its cold we put it on the heating pad)
    -Love on him
    -keep him warm
    -be nice/care full with him
    -Wipe him down if he has direhha
    -Watch and see if he popps or pees (from what ive saw he has only peed once in 2 days
    Someone please help me save this kittens life and tell me if i am doing something good or bad please help me. What should i do?

  52. First of all, at 5 weeks, you should be using Kitten Milk Replacement, which you can get at many stores. Some solid food is good but it should be another week or two before it's on ONLY solid food and water. I explain bottle feeding in this post.

    Second, diarrhea can be caused by so many things, but the most common treatable cause with kittens is intestinal parasites. You really should have a vet for that but you might check with local cat rescue organizations to see if someone can help you. There might even be a cat lady around who has a supply of the medicine you need.

    Good luck and bless you for helping this kitten.

  53. Thank you so much for this blog! I've had cats all my life but I JUST today took in a stray/feral kitten. I've been feeding a colony that lives out back of where I work. This morning after a few days of heavy rain, two of the kittens were huddled up against the building, wet and pitiful looking. I took out some food and while one of them ran, the other stayed to eat. It let me bring it inside in a car carrier. It's been sleeping ever since. I have a vet appointment after work and I plan to take it home with me. I'm not sure how old it is, maybe between 4-6 weeks. I will check back for advice as needed. Please wish me luck. Thanks for the useful information.

  54. Hello. About a week I rescued a kitten which my neighbors found at a relatives house all alone. I believe she is now around 2-3 weeks old. She is doing really well. She's eating great, urinating every time I stimulate her she sleeps well and is becoming more n more playful each day. About 4 days ago she started having diarrhea. It lasted about 2 1/2 days. On the 3rd day she seemed to become almost constipated for about 12 hrs. Now ahe finally had a bm which is solid but still quite soft. But it seems since the actual diarrhea has subsided that it seems to be more greenish is color. I've done some research n can't seem to find much about green bm's. I can't get her into the vet for a few days still and I unfortunately cannot afford to take her to a emergency animal hospital as that is out of my price range so any advice would be greatly appreciated. I just love her lol butt so much already and I hate the thought of her being sick. Thank you..

  55. Also I have been giving her plenty of water to keep her from dehydrating...

  56. Hi Ashley, thank you for rescuing your baby! So it's hard to know what's going on but I can just talk about general guidelines for safe and healthy feeding. Digestive issues do arise frequently.

    At two to three weeks old, the only thing a kitten can consume is kitten milk replacement. It comes in powders you can mix, plus in little boxes pre-made. Both of those are fine, and both have things to watch out for. Getting the powder mixed correctly and thoroughly dissolved can be a little tricky. Going under or over in a mix can sometimes create problems. Now with the premixed boxes, they have a long shelf life, which is great. But once you open them, they need to be kept refrigerated, and the leftovers need to be thrown out after two or three days.

    Bottles or droppers need to be kept clean and unused KMR that has been warmed-up needs to be dumped after each feeding. Once you've heated it, it's not good to store it for the next feeding.

    Lastly, there's volume. Sometimes diarrhea can happen when your kitten is consuming too much. I can't suggest a specific amount although there are usually weight-based guidelines on the KMR package, and they can also be found online. Maybe let your baby drink until she seems satisfied, and then try taking the bottle away and see if she hunts for it. A kittens digestive system is still maturing and can't handle an overload. And on top of that, kittens that small don't really know how to moderate their own consumption. When they're with momma cat, consumption is dictated by supply.

    Lastly, there's the problem of intestinal parasites. Most feral kittens have them and only a vet can help with that. And your kitten definitely needs to see a vet. But for your description of the symptoms, I'm guessing this particular issue is feeding related; probably one of the items I mentioned above.

    Feeding is always tricky and we all have problems sometimes. There's just so much guesswork involved. Hopefully I've given you some things to think about and try. And thank you again for being a good person.

    Bless you.

  57. Thank u so much for the info. I believe u may be right about the feeding .. She seems to think every time she wakes up from a nap (whether 20 min or 3 hours) she needs to eat. So it is possible she was over eatting... As she grows is she eating a lil less but not much lol... I will try to see what holding off a lil does until her appt on Monday..

    Thanks so much, have a great day.


  58. My roommate brought home a kitten that is maybe 4 weeks old I got kitten milk, kitten food everything the baby kitty needs but she won't eat at all for 3 days now and all she dose is sleep I'm very worried I don want her to die.

    1. Kittens that age need kitten milk. I cover feeding them in this article, but it's important to seek veterinary assistance because the kitten may have medical problems. Not eating for three days is a crisis situation.

  59. I am so happy I found your blog via Pinterest. I have a six week old abandoned by its feral mom on a bottle now. Trying to work on getting her off but she is not wanting any part of that. My sis in law I talked about in another post took her in and once she was tested to be AIDS Negative, I brought her home. She is so tiny that she has been given the run of the guest room. She is using the litter box and feeding every 3 to 4 hours, then I sit in there for about 45 mins and we play. Not sure how my Torbie is going to like her staying. So far just in a passing intro, Lily has hissed several times. I love my new Misty but if Lily can't except her I will have to find her a good home cause this is Lily's home and I do not want to cause her stress.

    1. Thank you for helping her. At 6 weeks, she probably needs some more solid food. You might try mixing some warm kitten milk with a little canned kitten food on a spoon and get her to sample that. Once she gets the idea, she wlll move more easily to just can food.

      The trick to introducing a new cat or kitten is somewhat counterintuitive. When they are in the same room, give all your attention to your older cat and ignore the kitten. Your cat just needs some time to become secure with the idea that she is not being replaced. It's a slow process but works pretty well.


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