Caring for Newborn Kittens

Newborn kittens need a lot of extra care. Caring for them properly will help ensure that they grow into healthy adult cats. This is a guide about caring for kittens.

July 29, 2011 Flag
9 found this helpful

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:


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

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

March 22, 2007 Flag

These are my new baby kittens. They are regular neighborhood Tom Cat short hairs. These cute little characters were born yesterday when one of my two look alike sister black cats gave birth. The other sister is having trouble giving birth and I hope I won't have to bring her to the vet. I can't afford the Vet!

My Cats go up on the house roof and under a full Moon, scope the territory for male Tom Cats. I also go up on the roof but without much luck! As baby sisters, my black look-alike cats were great friends. They often played twin sister type tricks on me. One year later, however, jealousy and a baby making race has disturbed their friendship.

Photo of newborn kittens.

March 22, 20070 found this helpful

Joseph, I can tell you really love cats, so I want to urge you to please, please have your two sister cats spayed as soon as you can. I'm sure a vet will be happy to work something out with you. If you're worried about that expense, just imagine the expense with having to take care of all these kittens you're letting your cats have! It's really the kindest and most responsible thing to do. I'm hoping your one cat having trouble giving birth is okay. Also, having your cats roaming around outside exposes them to all kinds of disease from those neighborhood toms and also they could be injured. I hope you can find good homes for these new kittens. Wish I could take one, but I'm much too far away.

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March 23, 20070 found this helpful

Hello Joseph, i hope you don't mind but i could hardly see the kittens in the picture so i 'photoshopped' them. Here are the results....and so adorable too!



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March 23, 20070 found this helpful

And here's the kittens momma!

Monique =^..^=

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March 23, 20070 found this helpful

PLEASE have your kitty'spayed.there is too much bad that can happen to your babies, and I am sure your want them to be with you a long long time ,there are too many dangers lurking in the outside world for out side kitties.Not to mention diseases ,and they can get breast cancer if left un spayed -not to mention, all of the unwanted critters in shelters too/ They are very sweeet babies tho. Nothing better than a baby critter. but please I do think your vet would workwith you on payments or something to help you with the cost.

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June 22, 2015 Flag
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So our cat had kittens about 2 weeks ago and just today one of them started acting a bit strange. She's not eating well and is very weak/limp. She was perfectly fine yesterday though :( Her body temp is low too. She's not as warm or chubby like the other 3. I don't know what to do as I have no way of taking her to the vet :( Any advice from anybody? Also all 4 kitties have some sort of boogery pus in their eyes why is this?

June 22, 20151 found this helpful

Please take your kittens to your vet immediately-it is clear that the first one is ill and needs help and the others may have an infection also. Please do not delay as kittens as young as yours do not have much immunity.

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June 23, 20150 found this helpful

All of your kittens have eye infections. They can pick it up from bacteria in the birth canal.

The sick kitten is losing its battle against the infection. It is dying.

The kittens need medical care and they are too young to remove from their mother.

You will need to surrender all the cats, including the mother, to a no-kill rescue or the Humane Society to get them the help they need.

In the future, don't keep any pets that aren't spayed or neutered since you can't afford veterinary care for all the babies.

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June 30, 20150 found this helpful

Keeping kittens alive when they are so young is not easy. I go to the Dollar General and get the triple antibiotic ointment (not the cream, the ointment) and it always works on 6 week or so old kittens, but not sure if it would harm the mom since she would be licking it off the baby kittens eyes all the time. It is so easy to lose kittens at that age. It is not fair, but kittens who are not strong and healthy wont make it.

Don't worry about others opinions you just do your best. Now, I would probabky wipe their eyes with a warm cotton ball each morning and put just a little ointment in their eyes. Then I would probably give them KMR from a bottle which has a 'x' cut in it that makes one drop of formula come out at a time when held upside down.

After feeding they need to be burped and toileted. I take a warm, wet cottin ball and gently pat their little bottoms where the pee and poo. (I hold mine over a trash can with a piece of plastic trash on top... I can hear the wee wee drops. Then they have to be kept warm, a heating pad under half their box or bed. I will ad a link with more information. Anyone who gets involved with any kind of regular kitten rescue will have to experience loss from time to time. Bless you for caring and trying to help these little ones.

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June 30, 20150 found this helpful


Upper Respiratory Infections (Common Kitty Cold, Feline Herpes Virus et)

This is the most common ailment that affects cats and kittens. It is estimated 90% or more of kitties have been exposed at one time or another to the Feline Herpes Virus. Most of the time cats are exposed to the virus within the first few weeks of life. Since they are not vaccinated until apx 8 weeks old, many times it is too late for vaccine to do any good.

If you should notice your kitty experiencing eye discharge, runny or clogged up nose and/or especially a green or yellow discharge, you should begin treatment immediately!

The first line of defense is L-Lysine, an essential Amino Acid. The way L-Lysine works is to halt replication of the virus. It is perfectly safe to give to kitties and even yourself to help with the human common cold!

For kittens the dose is 250mg sprinkled on their food twice per day; Adults, 500mg twice per day. You may keep your kitties on L-Lysine indefinitely as it is a great immune system booster. Maintenance dosage is 250-500mg per day.

You may purchase L-Lysine capsules at any health food store and drug store. There are also many online sites who sell it drastically cheaper than you can go to the store and buy. Here is a link to one good site: VitaCost.

If you happen to have a kitty who chronically suffers from FHV I urge you to join this Yahoo Group where you may glean tons of info the members have gathered over the years to help your precious babe! Yahoo Group Site:

To treat the congestion almost always associated with this, there are a number of things you can try.

Try simply placing kitty in the bathroom and run hot water through the shower to get a good steam going and leave kitty in there until steam is gone. When this is not enough, I prefer to use good old chlorpheniramine (Chlortrimeton). You may give a kitten up to 4lbs, 1/8 of a 4mg Chlortrimeton tablet twice per day; a kitty weighing 4-7lbs ¼ tablet twice per day and adult kitties weighing 7-10lbs receive ½ Chlortrimeton tablet twice per day

You can buy generic Chlortrimeton 4mg tablets at just about any store such as Wal-Mart for a very low cost. You can also use Clariton & Zyrtec; same dosages.

If Kittys nose is clogged up, I find by just mixing a pinch salt in 2oz warm water and dropping into their nose causes them to sneeze a lot of the junk from their nose so they can breathe better. If congestions is extreme, you may flush the nostrils with the saline solution by doing this: Wrap kitty tightly in a towel so they dont get away from you as you are treating them. Position them face up towards you but with head hung down towards the floor. Fill each nostril up with saline, wait 30 seconds then turn the kitty over with head still down so that the liquid drains out the nose and not into the lungsthis is VERY important!

If doing this does not seem to help enough, you may use a drop or two of regular (short acting non menthol) 4Way Nasal Spray in each nostril once or twice per day. As with humans, do not exceed 3 days using the nasal spray as it causes a rebound effect. You may also prefer to just treat one side of nostrils, alternating each day, which seems to lessen the chance of rebound from the nasal spray.

If the discharge coming from your kittys nose is green//yellow, this indicates infection and kitty will need antibiotics. Clavamox oral suspension is an excellent antibiotic for kitties and you may obtain it without a prescription from this online drug store:

Be sure to buy the oral suspension: 50/12.5mg/ml. Kittens receive ¼ ml twice per day. Kitties 5-7lbs receive 1/2 ml twice per day. Over 7lbs receive 1ml twice per day.

If there is no time to wait for a shipment of meds to come in, you can go to most pet and aquarium stores and buy Fish Mox, in the fish section, which is Amoxicillin.

Important mixing instructions: You will need a small bottle to mix & keep the medication in. If you buy the 250mg Fish Mox, crush the pill, then dilute it with 5ml of water in the bottle & mix well. For the 500mg crush the pill then mix it with 10ml of water. This dilutes the Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) to 50mg per 1ml which is the same dosage one gets from the vet. Kittens under 5lbs receive .25ml 2 x per day & kitties over 5lbs receive .50ml 2 x per day. Large kitties apx 10lbs receive 1ml

Many times cats will slow down and/or completely stop eating and drinking when they have URI. It is imperative you watch your kitty closely as dehydration sets in very quickly and can kill them if not treated immediately!

One way to tell if your kitty is dehydrated is to pull up the nap of skin between the shoulder blades. If when you turn it loose, it snaps right back into place, then your kitty is probably not dehydrated. However if the skin is slow falling back into place your kitty is more than likely dehydrated and steps must be taken to rehydrate the kitty immediately!

The wonderful thing about cats is it is easy to rehydrate them by giving them Subcutaneous Injections of IV Fluid. Simply put, you draw up Lactated Ringers IV solution into a syringe, gently inject the needle just under the skin between the shoulder blades and slowly inject the solution until you form a small ball of solution under the skin. This looks horrible at first, but rest assured your kittys body will immediately begin to absorb this IV fluid and within mere minutes, the ball of solution will disappear!

You can purchase Lactated Ringers IV solution without a prescription from this online store: Atlantic Medical Supply

For the kitty who has stopped eating there is a wonderful product called Nutrical which comes in a large tube. Many a kittys life has been saved using this product! You can purchase Nutrical without prescription at most pet supply stores such as PetsMart & Petsco. Just follow the directions on the label. NOTE: if kitty has completely stopped eating then give it dobs of Nutrical several times per day.

Try making slurry out of some baby chicken food & water and hand feed through dropper or syringe. Strong smelling foods such as tuna have been shown to help a congested kitty want to eat. Bottom line is if they cannot smell their food they usually will not eat it.

For eyes with a discharge or crusting, wash the eye gently with water, then smear a dab Triple Antibiotic Ointment directly into the eye taking care not to scratch the eye. This must be done 3-4 times daily until the eyes are clear. Triple Antibiotic Ointment is available at all drug stores or places such as Wal-Mart. Generic will do just as well as the major brands. NOTE: make sure you purchase the ointment and NOT the cream!

Sometimes these eye infections take something a bit stronger to get rid of it. An ointment called Terramycin will almost always do the trick. You apply it the same way as the other, 3-4 times daily. You may purchase Terramycin eye ointment without prescription for a fraction of the cost your vet would charge on good old eBay! On eBay, simply type in the search bar Terramycin and you will find many selling it. You may also purchase Terramycin eye ointment without prescription at this online store: Entirely Pets."

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November 12, 2004 Flag
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Some kitten formula recipes and advice on hand feeding kittens by Robyn.

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April 12, 2016 Flag
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This is a guide about mother cat ignoring her kittens. Owner's of cats with a new litter worry if the mom doesn't seem to be caring for them.

Adult cat walking away from newborn kitten

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May 25, 2006 Flag
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I wanted to update you in regards to my previous request "Caring for a kitten". Unfortunately I have some very sad news. My baby "George" passed last evening around 11 pm. He really gave a valiant effort with his will to survive, along with the tender loving care he received from me the past few days.

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November 25, 2009 Flag
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My beautiful, but young, cat named Dinah just gave birth to 5 equally beautiful kittens this morning. Dinah was a stray that my boyfriend and I accepted in our home in October, and weren't very surprised to learn of her pregnancy.

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May 19, 2006 Flag
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