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How to Care for Orphaned Kittens

Becky Robinson, CatChannel expert on feral and stray cats, offers tips for raising kittens who are all alone.

Q: My wife found a litter of kittens in our garage, and the mother cat is nowhere to be found. How do we care for orphaned kittens?

A: Rescuing and raising orphaned kittens has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I have successfully cared for several dozen orphaned kittens over the years. It was very challenging in the beginning when I had to learn for the first time the many techniques to properly care for orphaned kittens.

Here are some quick tips to point you in the right direction:

  • If the mother can be found, she is best able to care for the kittens. It is necessary to follow up and ensure that she is spayed as soon as the kittens are weaned.

  • Contact local vet clinics and no-kill shelters to ask if they have a nursing mother cat or experienced volunteers available to bottle-feed the kittens. People have had a lot of success using mother cats who are lactating.

  • You may have to act as the orphans’ mother and take care of all their needs by bottle feeding and toileting. Carefully read the manual on hand-raising kittens and do not feed cow’s milk to any kitten or cat. You can find kitten replacement milk and bottles at most pet supply stores.

The good news is that you don’t have to learn what to do on your own. Alley Cat Allies compiled some resources to help you, all available on the Alley Cat Allies website.

In addition to following the advice provided in these materials, consider looking into Alley Cat Allies Feral Friends Network in your area. These Feral Friends are individuals, organizations, veterinarians and clinics in your area that may be able to help with hands-on advice, information about borrowing equipment, and vets and clinics that can spay/neuter feral cats.

Please share with us your experiences, difficulties and success stories. And don’t forget, I love to receive photos!

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How to Care for Orphaned Kittens

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Reader Comments

Holly    Riverside, CA

12/21/2011 4:52:01 PM

Every year, I go to Hawaii, and see many, many feral cats, the islands are overrun by them. They are all beautiful and look as domestic as can be. At least in Hawaii they can live well, as there are no predatory animals and they weather is good 24/7/365. In recent years Hawaii has taken approaches to humanely handle the problem. There is a foundation of volunteers that traps them, a vet spay/neuters them, and they are rereleased into the wild. If a local owns an outdoor cat, the cat must be spayed or neutered with a carrying identification. There is still a long way to go, but this has made a difference in preventing the birth of thousands of cats.

Jassz    Anchorage, AK

12/21/2011 3:33:51 PM

My husband and I have been taking in stray mothers and then helping get her and her kittens cared for, loved, humanized, spayed/neutered and then re-homed. If the mother is to wild, we fix her and return her to what she knows and trusts. In most cases though, we have been lucky and the mom adjusts pretty good. We have 6 cats of our very own, and 2 young children, so the kittens end up being very adaptable! Its so rewarding and wonderful to see them grow and trust. We just re-homed the last one the other day. I'm hoping for a respite, but there are still about 7 or 8 more kitties that we feed at night. One even comes inside and cuddles for awhile before asking to go back out. :) Thank you for this article!

Natalie    Alamosa, CO

9/28/2011 8:08:37 PM

I found only on ekitten alive that was aboned in a water truck 7weeks ago and when I seen her she was cold and very malnurished. I took her to he vet and they told me to buy kitten formula and make her go potty and we took her everywhere and gave her lots of love and attention and now she is almost wened and very tiny but the vet said she was very healthy and loved .

Beverly    Toronto, CA

2/4/2009 2:11:06 PM

this article was good.

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