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Caring for Orphaned Kittens

Kittens may be placed in a box lined with absorbent paper towels. Keep the box warm during the first two weeks of life, around 80 degrees Farenheit, using a heating pad covered with a towel or an infrared lamp. Also available in some pet stores are microwave-able warming pads which will maintain warmth for several hours.

If kittens are under five weeks of age and unable to eat solid food, bottle feed them with kitten formula (KMR and Tiny Tiger are common brands), obtained from clinics or stores. Cow's milk does not contain enough fat or protein for kittens. If a kitten is too weak to drink from a bottle, feed with an eye dropper. Massage the belly to stimulate digestion. The mother usually cleans the babies during the first few weeks so you will have to take on this task. You may have to gently rub a dampened washcloth or towel along the anal area to stimulate urination and bowel movements (Baby wipes may also be used). Rub vaseline on the anal area.

The mother usually cleans the babies during the first few weeks so you will have to take on this task. Start weaning from four to six weeks old. Mix canned kitten food with kitten formula to make a gruel and hand feed until the kittens are accustomed to eating on their own, then gradually reduce the amount of kitten formula until the kittens are switched to canned food. Most feral kittens have internal parasites and need to be de-wormed by a veterinarian. Any upper respiratory infections can be treated with antibiotics and eye creams. Upper respiratory ailments are common, and are indicated by listlessness, runny eyes and nose, coughing and sneezing constantly. Some respiratory ailments are also highly contagious, so isolate sick kittens from healthy animals and take even the healthy ones to the vet to be sure they have not contracted the illness and are just not showing symptoms. See the Neonatal Kitten Care Book available from ACA.

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