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Caring for Newborn Kittens

Category Cats
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.


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By 12 found this helpful
July 29, 2011

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

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November 12, 20041 found this helpful

Emergency Formulas to make at Home:

Formula #1
Combine 8 oz. homogenized whole milk, 2 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon salad oil, 1 drop liquid pediatric vitamins (optional).


Mix well and warm before using. Keep refrigerated.

Formula #2
Mix 1 part boiled water to 5 parts evaporated milk, 1/2 teaspoon bone meal per 16 oz fluid.
Mix well, refrigerate, warm before using.

I have found it is very difficult to hand raise kittens, but worth it. You have to work to get them to take the formula, and then make them go to the bathroom all the time. I kept mine in a little drawer with a hot water bottle and fed formula out of a bottle and washed the kit's face off after each time. It is like trying to stuff toothpaste back into a tube, but they get it. They only need a small amount. They have to be burped. Little back leg lifts get rid of constipation, as does a little milk. They need the exercise to get the bowels to moving.

They are so sweet, I end up keeping some of the kittens I hand feed especially if I messed up and spoiled them rotten!

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By 2 found this helpful
June 2, 2017

I used 5.5 foot long Ace bandage and wrapped and tucked it around my wrist. The kittens have something to grab onto when being given meds or other forms of care. This bandage calms them down during holding sessions and nail clipping for the wild ones.

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April 12, 20160 found this helpful

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.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
November 25, 2009

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.

Anyway, I know at this point, none of them can see, hear, or smell, so I've been worried about them finding the nipples to feed. Even when I get them to the nipple, they turn away and whine. They have been eating, some more than others.

I guess I'm just wondering if this is normal, and also nervous that if it comes time for me to feed them, I won't know exactly when to do so. Please help. Thank you.

By Sarah from NY


November 26, 20090 found this helpful

Good Morning,
How wonderful for that cat that you and your boyfriend are helping her. I worked for may years as a vet assistant, so my advice comes with knowledge you can trust. This may sound simplistic to you but the best thing for the next week is to just leave mom and babies alone. They know what they are doing and will find the way to the teeth. The best thing is to make sure mom feels safe and secure.

So I don't know where they are now but a nice box with blankets in it in a quiet spot in the house, like a spare room,, where there aren't people coming and going or other pets. Make sure mom has access to fresh clean water and lots of it, and start feeding mom kitten food. She will need the extra calories. If you notice a kitten going downhill fast you can get milk re placer and a bottle from your vet to feed the little one. Don't be surprised though if one does die or mom refuses to feed the sickly one. Somehow they seem to know when a baby is not going to live. It has been my experience that the ones that mom refuses are sick for a reason. For example I had a litter of kittens and mom refused 2 of them, I tried my guts out trying to keep the little ones going and as it turned out they had malformed stomachs, so no matter what I did they were not going to live. So mom really does know best!

So give mom good food lots of water and let her do her thing,try not to interfere too much. Last but not least, enjoy the experience, watching babies grow is a lot of fun and is very rewarding! If you are able, mom and babies should go for a vet check at 2 weeks old. And by 12 weeks all the babies should be in new homes or ready to go to new homes! Cats can be hard to find homes for so you may want to start looking now! Also, until babies and mom are older say 3 to 4 weeks old don'00t let strangers come and handle the babies. Anyway have fun and let me know how it goes!
vb37714 AT

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November 27, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you so much for replying back! It really means a lot to me, even after all of the reading I've done, I'm still nervous, and your advice has helped a great deal.

Dinah had given birth in the living room, on a few towels. After a few hours when we felt she would be comfortable with it, we lined our big box with towels and placed the kittens in there, and she jumped right in. Then last night, she started picking them up, one by one, and moved them into the back of our closet. So, trying to follow her orders, we emptied the closet and put the big box of kittens in there. She seems a lot more comfortable, and I've been trying to keep my distance! Hahaha.

There is one small black kitten that isn't being refused, but doesn't seem as strong as the others. I help when I can, getting it to a nipple, but it just isn't as forceful as the other four. I knew that it's not uncommon for that to happen, I just wish they could all be happy and healthy, just like any other person would.

Now, I know that she needs her own time, and will leave the box to do her own thing, but how long is long enough? Sometimes she'll just wander around the house, and I get nervous that the kittens won't be warm enough. Is that just another step I need to take back? I know I need to let her be mom.

Anyway, here is a picture of them when they were just a few hours old. :)

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November 29, 20090 found this helpful

Leave it all up to mommy now and Bless you for posting a picture! Please don't worry and those babies will be wandering around on their own soon enough :-) They do need to be completely weaned (about 10 weeks) before finding them homes though!

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By 0 found this helpful
May 25, 2006

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.

One of the guest posts, "susanna" made a very important suggestion to me as to bathe George ASAP for there was a fatal anemia contracted from fleas. Well I took your advice and bathed him in baby shampoo and much to my horror he was infested with them. He began a spiral downhill from there. He was gone within hours.

My boyfriend was so kind to step in as he saw my grief well up. He sweetly talked to him, encouraged the little guy, and insured him he was loved very much. We will have a small burial for him this evening. I can honestly say that we did all we could for him. He was blessed in a way that many kittens never are that were in his same situation. He had a few beautiful days full of love and affection, along with good eating's that was provided for him.

The Wal-mart kitten bottle and kitten powdered milk worked wonderfully. Again. I want to thank all of those who were kind enough to help us in this time of need. Many blessings to you and yours. Oh yea, you may wonder about the name George. Well we have an older kitten we named Gracie. So here we had George Burns and Gracie Allen as so it seemed. Bye for now.

LorisZoo from AZ


By Hannah Wilson (Guest Post)
May 25, 20060 found this helpful

I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of little George. I know he had a wonderful life with you. If you believe in a rainbow bridge he will be waiting for you healthy and happy. Sending hugs your way. Hannah

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May 26, 20060 found this helpful

Oh, so sorry about little George. You did your best and know that the poor little guy is not in pain or anything. It is so difficult and I just want you to know I'm thinking about you both. ~ Holly in Ga.

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May 26, 20060 found this helpful

I am so sorry about George. I cried, I love animals. Prayers for you during your time of grief.

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By (Guest Post)
May 26, 20060 found this helpful

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I know only too well of the devastating emotional effects taking care of and losing a little one you tried so hard to help. I truly believe those little ones who die so soon after, are brought to us because God knows that the last few days or weeks with us will be good ones and they will go out better then they came in. God bless you for your effort and comfort.

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By Karen (Guest Post)
May 26, 20060 found this helpful

I'm so sorry for your loss. It is very hard to lose an animal when you were trying so hard to save them. I will keep you in my prayers

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May 26, 20060 found this helpful

Loriszoo - I am so sorry to hear about George's passing. I hope that you find comfort in know that you did all you could for him. You might want to print out this page for the next time, and it will happen, another "George" decides to adopt you.

Take care. Hugs from Texas.

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May 27, 20060 found this helpful

I'm so sorry about George's passing. Please know that he knew he was loved very much during his short time on earth.

God bless you for rescuing him

take care, claudia

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June 1, 20060 found this helpful

Do not feed a kitten cows milk.

They tend to be lactose intolerent to cows milk,
and it will give them stomach cramps, and
the poos.

I know some vets rip people off, and that they are
expensive, but they can give the kitten fluids if
it is dehydrated. If they get dehydrated it can cause
brain damage. So better a few dollars short, than
a dying kitty. Good luck.

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By Tammy (Guest Post)
June 18, 20060 found this helpful

My best friend told me tonight about the butt rub thing and it worked great. My kitten is only 13 days old and we bottle feed her. she is eating great and growing and now pooping, whew!

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By Mary (Guest Post)
July 7, 20070 found this helpful

Just to let you know. We had a cat that had 3 kittens and then got ill. We took her to the vet and on day three she passed away. The vet sent us home with tiny bottles, a recipe for kitty formula and the three orphaned kittens....that was nearly 17 years ago and my cat, Callie had lived a long and full life. Aside from arthritis, she is very loving, normaly and heathy. I am currently in the process of resueing a kitten from a friend. Her neighbor had tons of Cats, dozens of kittens and this baby is being pushed out of the nest as Mommy Kitty probably hasn't enough milk for all four. Will let you know how it goes. I also have an 8 year old.

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By joe (Guest Post)
July 31, 20070 found this helpful

they are 2 weeks old. Only 1 of them has one eye that is still close, i was wondering what to use on him,to help get the eye to open.

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By 0 found this helpful
June 22, 2015

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, 20150 found this helpful

Maybe you could try bottle feeding her? Or hand feeding her? Also you could call your local animal shelter or humane society, they might be able to give you some vet advice? Good luck!

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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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By 0 found this helpful
May 10, 2017

How do I care for a newborn motherless kitten? What do I do for it? Please reply immediately.

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By 0 found this helpful
June 28, 2016

My male cat brought a surprise home to me 2 days ago, a newborn kitten. I am assuming it is only about a week or 2 old, its eyes are just opening. I have been feeding it kitten formula with an eye dropper, to hopefully keep it alive. I have seen no other cats around my home. I have no idea where this little one came from.

I have contacted my local vet office to see if they can direct me to a foster mom for this baby as I can not stay home from work any longer to care for it, and bringing it to work with me is not an option. The vet suggested I call the local ASPCA and of course they can not help me either.
Any suggestions?

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March 22, 2007

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.

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May 19, 20060 found this helpful

Hello my pet loving friends. Yesterday I brought home a 2-3 week old kitten from one of my friend's home. The mother cat is very young and will not take care of her. I have never taken in an orphaned babe such as this, so I need all the help I can get. Can someone please tell me what I need to feed her and what actions I could take to help this precious kitten. Please hurry with your needed feedback. Thanks again.

Loriszoo from Phoenix, AZ

Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/19/2006
First go to the vet. pet stores sell kitten milk. Put little droplets on her face and she should try and lap it up if she is really young. or the american vet association has good sites.
By sandy. (Guest Post)
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/19/2006
Yes, check out with your vet first for advice. I've nurtured several baby kittens whose mothers have deserted them at a young age.

Try feeding with a syringe or eyedropper, till the kitty shows signs of being able to lap. In the absence of 'kitten milk' I've just used warm diluted (with boiled water) cows milk.

Warmth, the baby has no mother or siblings to cuddle up to, so warmth is essential so a small box or bed with baby rugs, or just pieces of comfy cloth. to keep her warm. Stimulation the mother constantly licks the kittens, so you need to gently massage and stroke her several times a day, this offers stimulation to the system as well as comfort.

A small fluffy or furry toy in with the kitten can also help her to feel reassured.

Good luck!

By Ellie. (Guest Post)
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/19/2006
You'll enjoy this. My cat Molly was about 2 days old when her mother left her. She is the sweetest thing and I can't imagine life without her.

Get the kitten milk and a pet bottle at any pet food store. Unless you are rich, use the powdered kind. Get an extra nipple. She might use this for another week or even longer, before she is able to drink from a bowl. We never woke Molly for nighttime feedings, and she slept through the night in a cat carrier placed partly on a heating pad right next to the bed. Cold is a very serious problem, you do need to keep her warm. If she is two weeks old you have a good chance with her. On the internet you can read all kinds of directions.

If she isn't pooping, you'll need to help her. Rub her little butt with a cotton ball. She might be going on her own now, but if not it really isn't all that hard to do. If you have other cats and they are friendly to her, it will help her learn to groom herself. If not, take a washcloth and rub her with it especially around her face. This (grooming) can be a problem with hand raised kittens.

Email me if you have any other questions.
Jeneene at fuse dot net.

By Jeneene (Guest Post)
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/19/2006
You can buy baby food either the vegetable kind or the kind with meat and feed it to the kitten. That's what we were advised to do when this happened to us. The kitten formula was very expensive and the kitten would not drink it. We put it in a syringe and squirted it into her mouth until she got the hang of lapping it up herself. I set the alarm around the clock and fed her every 2 hours. It was a lot like having a newborn.
By (Guest Post)
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/20/2006
You can buy a kitten bottle or an eyedropper and kitten milk at Walmart or in the pet food section of your grocery store. Start at every 2 hours and let them have as much as they want. You can wait longer between feeding if at 2 hours they do not seem hungry. Evaporated milk works too. At that age it is hard or them to metabolize food. Call your a vet in town or a local shelter they will give you good advice. I raised my oldest cat this way, he too was very small. Now he's a poop head. It's hard but worth it.
By allison Fraylick
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/20/2006
hi i live on a farm and have taken care of several rejected kittens

1st do not go to the vet they will rip you off we went to drugmart not sure where you are but drugmart is a store like pharmacy grocery catch all they make lil bottles for kittens and they sell a kitten formula there that's what you need to get in expensive be ready to feed around the clock like a baby follow instructions we have also used this on the farm for rejected baby bunnies. Good luck.

By Kimmy (Guest Post)
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/21/2006
What about calf starter? My mother has given this to older kittens, it is like formula for cattle.
By Kelly
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/21/2006
Also make sure that you give your kitten a flea bath as soon as possible. Fleas can cause fatal anemia in small kittens rapidly. Keep kitten warm during and after bath.

Do not use flea shampoo or powder on so young a cat- toxic. Use regular baby shampoo or mild soap.

By susanna (Guest Post)
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/22/2006
Loriszoo - I have no tips for you. I was wondering how your kitten is doing. I hope well. Please let us know.
By Tonya
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/22/2006
Go to Walmart and buy a animal bottle and the liquid kitten milk. It usually helps stick a hot needle in the top of the bottle nipple to open it more. Feed the baby, I found it helps to burp the kitten like a baby but a lot softer. Also to get it to go to the bathroom take a warm wet cotton ball and gently massage the butt hole to get it to go potty, I would suggest doing this over the litter box so the kitten knows that the potty is there. Get 2 things done at once. Also take a warm wet cotton ball, go from head to toe strokes to clean and teach the kitten how to bathe. Any more help just email I foster kittens.
By Bobbie H (Guest Post)
Caring for a Baby Kitten 05/23/2006
Definitely take the advice about teaching it to use a litter box! I had a kitten once who was never taught to use the litter box every time and it would only use the litter box if it was convenient. Best of luck!
By Beth
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