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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