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How to Rescue Orphaned Kittens


When it comes to feeding young kittens, there are a number of easy-to-use milk replacements on the market for just that purpose. The delivery method, on the other hand, can be a bit more problematic. According to Dr. Hammer, the bottle-and-nipple method is infinitely better and safer than the eye-dropper method. 

If you must resort to a dropper, allow the kitten to suck the milk out; do not squeeze. If you squirt milk into the kittens mouth, it could get into your kitty's lungs, resulting in pneumonia. You should be able to wean you kittens off of the bottle starting at around 3 weeks by placing the milk replacement in a shallow saucer.

Pro tip: Hammer recommends you use nail clippers to cut a small 'x' in the nipple, rather than poke a hole with a pin.


When it comes to bedding, you want to provide a safe, quiet, and comfortable space for your kittens. If it's cool outside, you may need to simulate the queen's body heat. For this, fill a plastic bottle with warm water and wrap it in a towel. 

Dr. Hammer does not recommend electric heating pads because kittens may not be able to get away from the heat, resulting in serious burns. If you use a heat lamp of some kind, the temperature reading at the level of the kitten should be 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Things to Watch Out For

Things to Watch Out For
You may need to be concerned about your kitten's susceptibility to illness. If the kitten was nursed for the first few days of its life, it probably received the colostrum, i.e. the "first milk" which contains important antibodies as well as high levels of proteins and fats. 

But even with the colostrum, your kitten may be more prone to illness. "In cats that don't get nursed, we tend to see viruses that can affect the eye. Before they even open, they can get infected. If their eyes are bulging or there's pus, seek vet assistance," says Hammer. 

If anything, you're most likely to encounter an upper respiratory illness of some kind, which is relatively easy to spot due to the coughing, sneezing, etc. If you notice these symptoms, once again, it's time for a trip to the vet's office. 





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