Caring for Homeless Kittens up to 5 Weeks Old

Homeless kittens are unable to eat wet or solid food and should remain with their mother if at all possible until they are between the ages of 4-6 weeks old.  If the mother is friendly and you can take the mom, great.  Then let the kittens stay with mom until they are 7-8 weeks old.  

If their mother is not available, then please read on:

  • Keep kittens warm (about 90 degrees).  If they have no mom, a heating pad set on low and placed under a heavy towel will do.  Place the kitten on the towel (never directly on the heating pad) and place it in a cat carrier or box.   At approximately 3 weeks they will start to pee and poop on their bedding and this must be kept clean.
  • Try finding a foster feline mother; breeders, veterinarians and animal shelters may know of a nursing cat.    You can also try to call cat rescue organizations to see if they are able to help you if you can’t care for them yourself (see PANT network).  If you are taking care of the kitten yourself, place the kitten in a separate room away from your other cats.    Wash your hands after handling the kittens if you have other cats in your household.
  • Stimulate the kitten after each meal.  This is what a mother cat would do to help the kitten pee and poop.   Take a cotton ball dipped in warm water and gently rub it on the kitten's behind until you see that he has urinated or defecated or both.  Normally this takes less than a minute.   Be careful to rub only enough to get them to expel waste materials.   Keep the area clean and watch for chafing which might indicate that you are rubbing too hard or not cleaning thoroughly enough.  
  • A kitten’s instinct is to suckle and sometimes a kitten will suckle on a litter mate’s ear or other body part causing irritations.   Try to satisfy this need to suckle by caressing each kitten’s mouth with your finger or soft cloth or the nipple on a small bottle. 
  • Check to see if the kitten is dehydrated.   If, when lifting the skin between the shoulder blades, the skin stands up for a couple of seconds instead of immediately springing back to its normal position the kitten may be dehydrated.   A trip to the veterinarian may be necessary especially if the kitten is quiet and/or not eating.