Caring For Newborn Kittens

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If you find yourself in the position of playing "mama" to newborn kittens, here are a couple of things we learned over the years. They need to be fed about every 2-3 hours to begin with. If you are unable to find or buy kitten formula, you may have to make it yourself in an emergency.


We've made up formula for newborn kittens several times over the years and have been very successful using this "formula". We've never ever lost a kitten, thankfully. If you are raising more than one, then make up enough to last one day, but no more. Refrigerate it, and only take out what you're going to need each time. Bring it to a temperature of 98-100 degrees F.

We always keep brand new eye-water droppers in our medicine cabinet. They work for many different things and are just the best for feeding baby kittens or baby squirrels. (They probably would work for many different newborn baby animals). I buy several of the eye-water droppers at one time and always keep some glass ones and one or two of the plastic ones. The little animals take to the plastic ones best, as it's not so hard.


After washing the eye-water dropper, drop it in a pan of warm water (100 degrees F) and after using it, drop it right back into that pan of water to make it easier to clean between feedings.

Have some old socks ready to place the baby kitten in. It will act as a bib and will also help keep those tiny little nails from clawing your hands to bits and pieces. They are incredibly sharp and baby kittens (as helpless as they really are) are also quite strong. Without that sock pulled up to its little chin, you're going to have milk all over you, the kitten, and anything else close by, but very little inside the kitten.

Making The Formula:


  • canned Carnation milk
  • dark Karo syrup
  • boiled water (just like making a human baby's formula)

The syrup is to keep the baby kitten from becoming constipated and also acts as part of the nutrition.


This is for one kitten being fed every two hours who will take about 1/2 oz. per feeding, more or less, depending on size and age. Do not try to overfeed, but keep them awake for as long as possible to make sure they are not going to sleep hungry. You will need to make up this amount of formula at one time.


  1. Put 2 oz. Carnation milk in a clean jar which has a good lid.
  2. Add 3 oz. boiled water which has been cooled slightly.
  3. Add 1 tsp. dark Karo syrup.
  4. Stir up these 3 ingredients really well, making sure the formula isn't too warm to give to the kitten.
  5. Put about 1/2 oz in a cup and set the cup in a pan of warm water. NOT HOT. Warm.

Put the little kitty in the sock, and hold it together under the chin. Don't choke the baby. Fill the eye-water dropper with formula and very gently offer it to the kitty. If it gets a taste of it, it will hunt the source, so just let it find the end of the dropper and begin to suck. Gently squeeze the rubber part of the dropper, but be careful not to drown the little fella. Feel its little tummy. You can tell when it's full. It'll want to go to sleep too.

If the kitty has or develops loose bowels, don't use the Karo syrup. If the loose bowels continue, boil some rice: 1/2 cup of rice in 4-5 cups of water for about an hour and just pour off the water. Use that water to add to the Carnation milk. Rice water will help stop the loose bowels for kittens, squirrels, and human children. It's an old-time remedy.

Once the kitty has started growing, it will not require such frequent feedings. You'll be able to tell when it's hungry. You'll hear it crying a lot. Then feed it.

We always washed their faces and eyes with just regular milk. Why, I'm not sure, but it worked. On the farm, we used just plain old whole milk from the cow, but I've used homogenized milk too.

Many things like this, we learned from my grandmother, but we also added a few things over the years as we learned. (like using the socks, for instance).

Source: My grandmother taught us to do these things, so we always did them, and they work. I would use this today if I were raising a baby kitten and unable to get to a vet or buy baby kitten formula

By Julia from Boca Raton, FL

July 29, 20110 found this helpful

I would never have thought of most of these things, and have never had to really care for newborn animals. You make it sound like something I'd not be afraid to try though. I do know how sharp little claws can be though, and I love your solution for avoiding them.

I wouldn't have known how to make a formula for them either, even for temporary use. I would not be afraid to try these things to keep a little baby animal alive.

Thank you for taking the time to share this really good information.


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July 30, 20110 found this helpful

Awesome tips. Thanks for the formula recipe too. I especially like the one of putting them in a sock.


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July 31, 20110 found this helpful

We used to use the same formula for kittens. I sure wish we'd had your idea about the sock,though,that's a great one! We always wrapped them in a wash cloth,but the sock is better!

One thing to add that I didn't know until recently. Because a cat's nose is so close to their mouth,when you feed them you have to be very careful not to let the formula get into their noses or they can aspirate it & get pnumonia, which will almost always kill them! We didn't know this & could be why we occasionally had kittems develope respiratory problems & die.

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August 2, 20110 found this helpful

I've helped with caring for newborn dogs and cats, but never to the point of mixing a formula. I'm glad to know how to do that too now. I can remember putting the eye-dropper into the sides of their mouths so as not to fill their noses with milk too.

It is a good thing that someone else pointed out about not drowning them. It would be a very easy thing to do if feeding isn't done with real care. Taking everything very slow is a good idea.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Really good information here.

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August 2, 20110 found this helpful

This is information that is common to almost everyone raised on a farm

50 years ago, but I don't think all that many people in cities ever had the

chance to learn very much about it. It's in the highly populated cities that

many baby animals perish simply because nobody knows anything about

taking care of the homeless little critters.

I'm going to print this out and keep copies of it just in case anyone around

us has the need for learning something that will help when they can't afford

a vet.

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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August 2, 20110 found this helpful

Really good instructions. We've had to feed and care for many baby animals whose mothers couldn't or didn't for one reason or another. I really like your suggesting of using a sock for securing the little feet and claws as well as acting as a great clean-up item.

Thumbs Up! Lee

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August 2, 20110 found this helpful

Oh dear, it makes me want a kitten or a puppy so that I can take care of it! This is wonderful, Julia, and I am sure it will save many a little, furry life. Thank you.

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August 3, 20110 found this helpful

We could have used all this information a couple of years ago. We ended up

having to take an entire litter of newborn puppies to a vet and leave them.

Cost us a lot of money, but we didn't know what to do with them. Their

mother was a pure bred miniature poodle. A very nice pet, but not the

maternal type. She wanted nothing to do with the puppies. Very strange.

That was her one and only litter as we had her spayed ASAP after that

ordeal. I sure would have loved to have a couple of those little guys. They

were so precious. Since we both worked, it was impossible for us to care

for them.

I'll keep this and be ready for the next time we have a chance to help

baby animals. Thank you for sharing what must have been very rewarding experiences.


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August 4, 20110 found this helpful

Now, I want a little kitty too. My two grown cats might feel left out, but I'd love to raise another little one. They are just so precious.

This is really good information, and I'm hanging onto it as I might have the chance to raise another one someday. I will feel a lot more comfortable doing it with all this great information.

Thank you for sharing it and your experiences.

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