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If you found a helpless baby kitten, would you know what to do? Your first reaction might be to scoop him up, take him to safety, and attempt to bottle feed or contact a rescue. Believe it or not, the best thing to do is leave the baby alone (unless in immediate danger). Mama is likely nearby looking for food or in the process of moving her litter, and she’s MUCH better equipped to care for her babies than humans are.

If mama returns, provide food and shelter for her and her litter, and try to rescue them together. If the mother cat is feral, contact your veterinary office for procedures on bringing new mothers in for TNR, and keep in mind future TNR or rescue and socialization for the kittens.

If you feel the kittens are in danger, in need of medical attention, or should be rescued for any other reason, you should be prepared to care for them yourselves until a rescue or foster can take them in. Newborn kittens are a 24-hour/day job. They must be fed every 3-4 hours, stimulated to go to the bathroom, and kept on a heating pad constantly. Before taking on the job yourself, check with rescues or vet technicians in your area for a nursing mom or experienced bottle feeders.


Caring for newborn kittens

Newborns must be fed KMR (Kitten Replacement Milk). Do not give them anything else–no cow milk, water, or any other formula. KMR can be found at Wal-Mart, vet clinics, or pet stores. If the kittens are old enough to have teeth they can generally eat wet/canned food. We recommend Kitten Instinctive by Royal Canin. You can heat the wet food in the microwave to enhance the smell and make it easier for them to eat.

Keep newborn kittens on a heating pad that is set on low. Do not feed the kittens until they are warm; if their body temperatures are not high enough, they will not be able to digest their food.

Newborn kittens must be stimulated to use the bathroom. Use a warm washcloth or cotton ball to rub their genitals to produce urine and feces. They may not use the bathroom until they have eaten enough milk to produce a bowel movement.

If fleas are present, you can bathe infant kittens in Dawn dish soap to kill fleas. They must be dried and placed on their heating pad immediately after a bath. Flea products should never be put on newborn kittens.

Do not try to syringe water into kittens. They can inhale it into their lungs and get pneumonia.

Kittens should be taken for veterinary care as soon as possible.

Not sure how old the kitten is? Here are two helpful resources:

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