Caring For an Orphaned Newborn Kitten

If you ever find yourself before the rewarding challenge of caring for an orphaned newborn kitten, it's important to know what to do. Today we'll provide the information you need to know.
Caring For an Orphaned Newborn Kitten
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Rescuing a defenseless an orphaned newborn kitten is an act of pure love. However, a lack of proper and specific care can put their health and well-being at risk.

Ideally, the mother is the one who should care for her litter. This is the only situation that allows kittens to nurse sufficiently and develop their immune system adequately. However, this isn’t always possible.

In the following article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about caring for an orphaned newborn kitten.

Unfortunately, it’s very common for feline mothers to die or to have to escape in order to survive in big cities. Consequently, they leave their little ones alone to fend for themselves shortly after giving birth.

The good news is that there are many individuals, institutions, and businesses that share their resources to help stray animalsThanks to the time they give and help they provide, animals have a better chance of surviving and finding a home.

What to do if you find an orphaned newborn kitten

If you find an orphaned newborn kitten (that is less than 12 weeks old) it’s likely he or she will be very afraid. The tiny animal may also try to defend itself and escape with the little strength it has. Therefore, it’s important to stay calm and be patient when it comes to rescuing kittens that have lost their mother.

It’s best to use gloves and avoid excessive contact for the time being because orphaned kittens are subject to an enormous amount of germs. The best thing you can do is take the orphaned newborn kitten straight to the vet. A professional can look the animal over and indicate how to best care for the animal’s physical and mental development.

Felines are extremely vulnerable at birth. Their independent and hunter instincts develop over time, especially once they reach adulthood.

If possible, it’s best to lay the orphaned newborn kitten in a pet carrier. Alternatively, you can look for a sturdy box that can withstand the cat’s weight and movements.

Four practical tips for caring for an orphaned newborn cat

1- A cat with milk or a formula milk for newborn kittens.

The greatest risk for an orphaned newborn kitten is the vulnerability of its body. It’s through a mother’s milk that kittens get their nourishment and develop their immune system. During the first weeks of a cat’s life, providing adequate nutrition is fundamental in guaranteeing survival.

If, however, you don’t have the possibility of finding a cat with maternal milk, you should see a veterinarian. He or she will help you find the best artificial substitute for nursing. You should never give cow’s milk to kittens as lactose from cow’s milk can damage their digestive system and produce allergies. Rather, you should choose from the different powdered milk options for newborn kittens that are available on the market.

2- Provide warmth and the right environment

In general, cats are more sensitive to the cold than other felines and dogs. Their skin and fur adapt better to warm, dry environments.

In the first weeks of their lives, cats are unable to regulate their own body temperature. The risk of becoming sick from the cold or suffering hypothermia is very high. That’s why it’s important to offer warmth to orphaned newborn kittens as soon as possible. A good option is to find a heating pad and keep the kitten’s space clean and dry. There, your tiny feline will feel comfortable and cozy.

Two newborn kittens sleeping together.

Another factor is setting the room’s temperature. In the winter months, you should keep your home’s temperature at about 77º F.

3- Prepare a clean and comfortable place for your kitten to sleep

An orphaned newborn kitten will feel scared and vulnerable. Therefore, you should do your best to make the little one feel safe and give it the chance to rest and recover. Your cat will need a clean, dry, and comfortable area. What’s more, you should prepare a bed for the animal. This can be something as simple as a cardboard box or a clean, soft towel to snuggle into.

4- Keep your kitten clean and sanitized

After several weeks of life, most cats easily learn to take care of their needs in a litter box. However, orphaned newborn kittens still don’t know how to control their sphincters. Mother cats lick their kitten’s intimate parts in order to stimulate them. Therefore, when it comes to an orphaned newborn kitten, it’s extremely important that you clean his or her genitals with a warm wet cotton ball or gauze before and after feedings.

An abandoned newborn kitten drinking from a bottle.

Then, place the animal on a piece of paper, newspaper, or directly inside a litter box so the kitten can take care of its needs.

In some big cities, the out of control procreation of stray kittens is a big problem in society that affects humans and animals. Therefore, it’s a good idea to neuter your orphaned kitten as soon as he or she reaches adulthood. This will help to avoid adding to the number of stray kittens.

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7 Things to Consider When Rescuing a Cat or Dog

At some point, all of us will come across an animal that needs immediate help and it's important to know some key things for rescuing a cat or dog.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.