How to care for orphaned kittens above 3 weeks of age

Feeding a newborn orphaned kitten is a challenge but can be fun and rewarding. Here are some guidelines to follow when assisting orphaned kittens.

If you are sure the mother cat is unable to care for them, congratulations…you have a new and challenging responsibility!

We first need to determine how old they are before we try to start feeding them. Kittens’ eyes generally open between days 7 through 14. If the eyes are still closed, the kittens are quite young and you have a lot of work ahead of you. Fortunately, it is very rewarding work to see these little kitties grow and thrive.

Have your veterinarian check them over as soon as possible to determine their health status and age. Any noticeable health problems such as skin lesions, crusty eyelids, or presence of dehydration can be addressed by your veterinarian and appropriate treatment started.

It’s unfortunate and sad that not all kittens and puppies receive the nurturing and security of a mother.

Home Care

If you are committed to helping the newborn kittens and become their surrogate mother, then you will need to provide a safe, warm home for them. You can use a box or small crate with plenty of dry, clean bedding. Make sure you change the bedding frequently so it doesn’t get too soiled.

Place the new “den” in a warm, quiet place free from drafts, but be careful not to overheat them either. Don’t put them next to a heating or air conditioning vent. Heating pads under a box can be helpful. The kittens should be in an environment that approaches 92 degrees; monitor the air temperature around the kittens frequently.

Once they become 2 weeks old, they will be better equipped to generate their own body heat and their surrounding air temperature becomes less critical.


For very young kittens, you will need to acquire kitten milk replacer and some feeding devices. Many veterinarians will use an ordinary eye dropper or a small syringe as a means of dispensing the milk replacer to the kitten.

Most pet stores or veterinary clinics have nursing bottles, too, but be alert to the fact that some kittens cannot suck the contents through the small nipple. You may need to actually squeeze the milk out for the kitten while having the nipple in the kitty’s mouth. Warm it up a little, too, under the hot water faucet.

If it is after hours at your local animal hospital, your short-term solution will be to mix an egg yolk with a can of evaporated milk (make sure it is not the sweetened condensed milk). This is only a temporary “solution” and should only be used for a couple of feedings.

At the first few feedings, the kittens will probably only consume a few cc’s worth of milk. (There are 5 cc’s in a teaspoon.) You will need to feed every couple of hours at first and gradually build up time between feedings as they begin to eat more at each meal. Start by offering a small amount. If the kitten won’t eat readily from the nipple and bottle, try an eyedropper or syringe and drip a little in the mouth, adding more at the kitten’s pace. Make sure that the milk is just above room temperature; try not to microwave it since you can cause hot spots in the milk.

Follow instructions on the milk replacer for mixing and storage. Contact your veterinarian if the kitten does not eat for more than six hours, as hypoglycemia can occur quickly in young kittens who are not getting nutrition. Once they get the hang of it, the kittens should consume the milk replacer greedily. You can stop the feeding when the kitten begins to slow down the consumption or becomes disinterested.

When the orphaned kittens reach about 3 weeks of age, you can start providing watered-down meat-based kitten food for them to nibble on. Mix the wet food with water until it achieves a soupy consistency, and consider warming the mixture before serving. Make sure you keep a fresh supply and not too much at one time. It’s also important to monitor the kittens while they are eating, as they are unsteady and can fall head first into the food. Once they start eating food as it comes from the can, you can leave out dry kibble for them to munch on, too. A kibble with good protein and fat levels is recommended.

Keep in touch with your veterinarian if you notice any health problems or “poor doers.” A “poor doer” is a kitten or puppy that lags behind the other littermates in body size, alertness, or activity level. The earlier any problems are detected and addressed, the better the chance for recovery.


One other thing you will need to do, since mom isn’t there to clean up after the kittens, is to stimulate the kittens to eliminate waste during or after each feeding. You can accomplish this by using a warm, wet paper towel to gently massage the anal and urinary openings. Your kitten should immediately urinate and/or defecate. Afterward, gently pat the area dry to avoid irritation and infection.

As the kittens get older and more mobile and exploratory, you can provide a low-sided cardboard box with a small amount of litter for the kittens to get used to. It is generally instinct for them to scratch in something for their elimination habits. Once they start urinating and passing stool on their own (generally by 3 weeks of age), you will be able to give up that particular job of assisting them.

Health Care

Some things to monitor over the course of the next few weeks are appetite, activity level, and growth. You will need to call the veterinarian if a kitten won’t eat or stops eating. Bathroom habits should be predictable, and you should talk to your veterinarian if urinating or defecating changes, or if the kitten’s attitude or activity level also changes. Other health concerns include upper respiratory infections that create sneezing and eye and nose discharge.

Many times the eyes will get so much discharge, the eyelids will gum up and stick together. Wet a cotton ball with warm water and hold it on the eyes for a few seconds to moisten the discharge. Then, very gently wipe one to two times to remove the softened crust and open up the eyes until you can contact your veterinarian.

A number of different parasites are a concern and can weaken a young kitten. Your veterinarian should treat fleas, mites, lice, and intestinal parasites. Don’t use over-the-counter medications without consulting your veterinarian since very young kittens may not be able to tolerate some of these products.

Many types of problems can be determined at the time of the first visit. Your veterinarian may suggest that you drop off a stool sample at 4 weeks of age to check for intestinal parasites.


By 6 weeks of age, kittens should be well on their way to eating, drinking, and exploring on their own and be quite the entertainment focus. Have your veterinarian check them over, and discuss vaccination recommendations. Depending on the veterinarian, vaccinations will be started between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Also, viral testing will likely be run to rule out feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.

Oh, and good luck giving them up to new owners. It will be very difficult to let these little orphan kittens go off to their new homes without you.

  • March 7, 2017
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Taking care of a newborn kitten without a mother is a very challenging. And, it is a full time responsibility. Usually, kittens get nursing from their mother up to 6+ weeks. If due to some reason such as mother cat’s death or if mother cat rejects her litter. In that case, human should take charge of little one and should know complete knowledge that how to take care of a newborn kitten without a mother cat.

What to Feed a newborn kitten?

Mother cat’s milk is an ideal food for a newborn kitten. But, for orphan kittens, you should arrange milk replacer which if best substitute of mother’s feed, and it is produced specially as per kitten’s notorious needs. Don’t try kinds of milk such as cow’s or goat’s milk naturally. It will cause gas trouble in the little one. If you can’t find any best kitten’s drink in your area. Or, if you are looking for what to feed a newborn kitten in the case of emergency? You can try cow’s milk with adding plenty of water to make it work. Keep in mind; it isn’t healthy and permanent solution. A kitten needs to depend on milk for 4-6 weeks. After 4-6 weeks, kittens can start dry kitten food. Before that, don’t give any dry or canned food.

How to feed a newborn kitten?

The Newborn kittens are like the blank page; you are going to develop their habits. For your information, in the 2nd week, they hardly open their eyes. Arrange a zero-sized kitten feeder bottle. Manage the tiny hole in nipple so only enough quantity of milk drop can go into baby’s mouth. With the passage of time size of the hole can be increased too.

When to feed the kittens?

Kittens take less each time, so they feel hunger in every 2-3 hours. So, ideally feeding them in every 3 hours would be a very good idea. Set timing around the clock such as day and night and schedule maximum distance of 2-3 hours in two doses such as 1:00 AM, 3:00 AM, 6:00 AM, and 9:00 AM so on.

Ideal environment for newborn kittens

This soft creature can’t resist extreme weather such as environment shouldn’t be either too cold nor too hot. In hot weather, kittens can survive at room temperature, but in cold weather, they must need proper care.

With mother cat, they get required warmth quickly but taking care of a newborn without a mother isn’t easy. You can manage it by using the hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel so it can give warmth but don’t burn the skin of tiny kitten. Change the water occasionally so kitty’s bed can stay warm all the time. Control the room temperature (if possible). Don’t let go kitten out in direct hot or cold weather.

How to clean a newborn kitten?

If you have rescued the little one and found fleas on it, Don’t try any chemical/medicines at all. You can remove all the fleas manually. Or dip a towel in hot water and clean the baby with a towel.

Furthermore, kittens under three weeks, can’t clean themselves. Such as; they can potty or pee anytime, anywhere. A big box, with a towel layer, is recommended, so you can change the sheet 3-4 times a day (it can be washable easily). Usually, mother cat takes care of kittens in this period and clean them by licking the potty area after each time; they make dirt. Human simulation of this action can be; using wet tissues, baby wipes or moistened towel to clean them softly.

You can start kittens training for using the litter box by fourth or fifth week.

How old do kittens have to be before they can use the litter box?

Kittens 5-6 weeks plus can generally eat wet kitten food. Make sure the can says it is for kittens, and provide fresh water at all times as well. Kittens above 3 weeks should be immediately placed into the litter box, so that they learn right away where to use the bathroom.

How to take care of a 3 week old kitten?

Put them on your shoulder or on their stomachs and pat them gently until they burp. Clean kittens using a warm, damp washcloth after you feed them. Kittens of this age will eat much more at each feeding, but you’ll feed them less frequently. Every five to six hours.

When to bring a kitten home from a foster home?

If the kittens seem in stable condition, bring them home and follow these guidelines: Much of the time when you get an orphaned kitten, they will have gone too long without food. For this reason, you will want to feed them right away. Kittens 0-4 weeks with no mom will need to be bottle fed using a kitten formula.

Can a 3 week old kitten eat solid food?

Definitely have some KMR (kitten replacement milk) and a bottle on hand. It’s possible that a 3 week old kitten can eat solid food, but not likely that it will be enough. Goldy’s kittens didn’t even show an interest in solid food until they were 5 weeks old, and she didn’t start weaning them until they were 7-8 weeks. Click to expand…

Kittens 5-6 weeks plus can generally eat wet kitten food. Make sure the can says it is for kittens, and provide fresh water at all times as well. Kittens above 3 weeks should be immediately placed into the litter box, so that they learn right away where to use the bathroom.

Put them on your shoulder or on their stomachs and pat them gently until they burp. Clean kittens using a warm, damp washcloth after you feed them. Kittens of this age will eat much more at each feeding, but you’ll feed them less frequently. Every five to six hours.

If the kittens seem in stable condition, bring them home and follow these guidelines: Much of the time when you get an orphaned kitten, they will have gone too long without food. For this reason, you will want to feed them right away. Kittens 0-4 weeks with no mom will need to be bottle fed using a kitten formula.

When is a 3 week old kitten ready for adoption?

When kittens are three weeks old, their ears are fully upright and they’ll have blue eyes until their adult color becomes apparent—which might not be until they’re two months old! They start to play more, and you can begin to socialize them through toys and games, so they’ll eventually be ready for adoption.

When do you need to take care of an orphaned kitten?

A kitten needs emergency care if she is: Much of the time when you get an orphaned kitten, they will have gone too long without food. For this reason, you will want to feed them right away. Kittens 0-4 weeks with no mom will need to be bottle fed using a kitten formula.

How old do kittens have to be before they can be adopted?

EVERY kitten you foster should be spayed or neutered before being adopted into a forever home. Kittens can be spayed at 2 months and 2 pounds. Learn more about pediatric spay/neuter here. Kittens are extremely vulnerable creatures, and you will likely encounter kittens that need a higher level of veterinary care.

What should I know before fostering a kitten?

Keep this in mind when bringing the cats in your home. The mother cat will need care, bedding, and food as well. If you can’t give the kittens their own space that can be blocked off, where they can be kept away from other pets, then you probably shouldn’t be fostering kittens.

A kitten needs emergency care if she is: Much of the time when you get an orphaned kitten, they will have gone too long without food. For this reason, you will want to feed them right away. Kittens 0-4 weeks with no mom will need to be bottle fed using a kitten formula.

How old do kittens have to be to get a spay?

Kittens 8 weeks +: make a spay appointment and adopt them out! FVRCP vaccine is the standard feline distemper vaccine. This is a preventative measure against feline rhinotracheitis virus, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. Kittens receive this vaccine at 6 weeks of age, and then two boosters 3-4 weeks apart.

How much time should I spend with my 8 week old kitten?

Play with kittens for at least two hours a day (all together or broken up). Take time to socialize each of the kittens in a litter individually. At this age kittens will love to play with toys and you should encourage that!

How many kittens and a mom can make litter?

Four kittens and a mom can make an amazing amount of litter. I cleared my desktop and floor of everything. Kittens playing are absolutely crazy (and great fun to watch). Anything cardboard or paper will be eaten. Cloth material will be tested. Definitely remove any wires or phone lines plugged into the walls.

What kind of litter do kittens like best?

Cats prefer to eat and sleep in a spot away from their bathroom. What type of litter are you using? You should avoid the clay clumping kind as the kittens will likely ingest some when they start training. I’m using swheat scoop for my 5 week old kittens.

Where can I find a place to foster a kitten?

Contact your local shelter and let them know you’re interested in fostering kittens. Many shelters have foster programs and will be thrilled to have your help. If your shelter doesn’t have a foster program… Contact a local rescue group about fostering.

When to leave kittens with the Mama Cat?

No one will be a better caregiver for kittens than the mama cat, so make sure that you’re giving them a chance to stay with their mom. When to leave the kittens: if they are clean and plump, the mama is likely nearby. Watch for her and make sure they are being cared for. If so, leave them with her.

What to do if you don’t have a foster program?

If your shelter doesn’t have a foster program… Contact a local rescue group about fostering. Rescue groups can’t pull animals out of shelters unless they have somewhere for them to go, so offering up your home will allow them to rescue animals from the shelter.

How often should I Feed my foster kittens?

You may want to start by feeding them wet kitten food, and then begin supplementing that with dry food. This is done by slowly adding pebbles of dry food to the wet food and increasing it as they age. If the kittens are eating on their own already, that’s good. Feed them three times a day and let them eat their fill.

If kittens are under four weeks old (to determine a kitten’s age, read the second article in this series), they need to be housed in a way that keeps them safe and warm, and they need to be bottle-fed until they are big enough to graduate first to gruel, then solid food. The tips here will help you set up a cozy and safe home for the kittens and will let you know what to expect in those first weeks.

Keeping kittens warm

How to care for orphaned kittens above 3 weeks of ageA dog crate or kennel is a good choice of enclosure for keeping the kittens safe and contained, as well as for monitoring the temperature. This is important because keeping kittens warm is crucial. Janice Dankert, Best Friends community cat program supervisor, explains, “When kittens are cold, their bodily functions quit working.” If any of the kittens are limp or minimally responsive, or are cool or cold to the touch, this is indicative of an emergency situation – you should provide heat to the kitten and take him or her to the vet right away.

Best Friends veterinarian Dr. Patti Patterson recommends keeping the room temperature above 75 degrees or so. Kittens also need constant heat by way of a heating pad, without an automatic shutoff, set on low. Trielle Gritton, senior manager of adoptions and outreach at Best Friends Animal Society–Utah, says, “The heating pad should be covered in cloth – old towels, throws or blankets work well. And it should only cover half the enclosure so the kittens can move away from it.” An alternative to a heating pad is a microwaveable disc (called SnuggleSafe) made just for keeping pets warm.

Regular monitoring is important to ensure the kittens aren’t too hot or cold. Dr. Patti says, “If the kittens feel cold to the touch, they’re too cold. They should feel toasty warm, but if they are panting or seem to be stretched out away from each other, this may indicate too much heat – you can turn down the heating pad or open the top of the dog crate to allow the area to cool down.”

Trielle adds, “It is also very important to remember that a kitten should never be fed cold formula, and they should never be fed if they are cold.”

Feeding kittens

How to care for orphaned kittens above 3 weeks of age“Kittens need to be bottle-fed formula until they’re about four weeks old, and then they can begin to wean,” says Trielle. If you have found the kittens after the pet supply store has closed for the day, you can use goat’s milk as a stopgap, but this should not be used for an extended period of time. Kitten formula, bottles, rubber nipples, and cleaning supplies are available at most pet supply stores, and even many grocery stores. Follow the instructions carefully on the formula package to ensure proper mixing and handling.

Trielle says, “It is important to note that kittens should never be fed on their backs, but their bellies should always touch the floor (or other surface) when being bottle-fed.” Best Friends veterinarian Dr. Patti Patterson recommends allowing the kittens to eat until satiated. On average, it should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to properly feed each kitten at every stage until weaned.

Kittens also need help eliminating (going to the bathroom) until they are about three to four weeks old. To do this, use a warm, damp washcloth to gently massage the anal area until they go. This should be done every time you feed each kitten. A litter box with only non-clumping litter can be introduced when kittens are about three weeks of age. Kittens will not have solid stool while still drinking formula.

Kitten care information

This article is the third in a four-part series on caring for baby kittens who are abandoned. Read more about orphaned kittens in part 4.

How to care for orphaned kittens above 3 weeks of ageRabbit mothers nurse their babies for approximately 5 minutes a day. They will be in the nest or nest box early in the morning and then again in the evening. The milk is very rich and the babies “fill up” to capacity within minutes. Mother rabbits do not “sit” on the babies to keep them warm as do some mammals and birds. They build a nest with fur and grasses which helps to keep the babies warm in between feedings. Do not force a mother rabbit to sit in the nest box. You can pick up the babies and see if they are feeding by checking the size of their stomachs (should not be sunken in), the pinkness of their skin and activity level (they should not be blue in color or sluggish in movement) and the amount of time that you hear them crying (baby bunnies should be quiet most of the day….if they are crying constantly then they are not getting fed). If they are warm, mom is most likely feeding them, but again, she only comes back in the middle of the night.

If you come across a nest of bunnies in the wild and the mother is no where to be seen, please DO NOT disturb them…this is normal. By removing them from the nest you are greatly reducing their chances of survival.In the rare situation that you have an orphaned bunny, such as when a mother rabbit is killed by another animal or in the road, or when a domestic rabbit refuses to care for her young, you may try feeding with Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) or Meyenberg Goat Milk (for wild rabbits, but they need a professional reahabber–do not feed at home). Remember though, that both wild/domestic bunny moms only feed in the middle of the night, so don’t assume she is not caring for them! For true orphans, remember to feed ONLY TWICE A DAY. Overfeeding is a leading cause of death in these youngsters which results in fatal intestinal disease. Provide a soft nest area in a box with clean towels, and cover the babies (if eyes are closed) so it is dark.

DO NOT provide extra heat if the room temperature is at least 65 to 70F because excessive heat can be fatal. If the room is much cooler, then you may place a heating pad on a low setting under no more than HALF of the nest so the bunny can move to a cooler area if it gets too warm.

For a wild bunny, you need to get him to a wildlife rehabilitator if he is TRULY orphaned (mom was killed). Remember with wild bunnies, the mom ONLY comes back at night to call and feed him; please put him back for her if just found and healthy. With domestics, the mom only feeds once or twice a day for only 5 minutes. Leave babies with the mom. For wild orphans, first google your state and wildlife rehabber, and call your humane society, also try and as it is illegal in most states to keep a wild animal, and they really need a professional as this is critical. Local rabbit veterinarians or humane societies may also know of a rehab facility.

The following is a guideline for the daily amount to feed a TRULY orphaned bunny (mother was killed, etc.) that will be about 5 lbs as an adult. It is impossible on the internet to be exact. Please find rehabber.

Age + Amount (This WILL vary depending on type of rabbit.) Use KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) for domestics and Meyenberg Goat Milk, regular not low fat for wild ones,or KMR. Add a pinch of acidophilus (AKA Probiotic capsules) to all formula to promote healthy gut flora. Other formulas vary depending on the region of the country. Avoid using Esbilac or any puppy formulas or cow’s milk. Do not add Karo syrup. FEED TWICE A DAY ONLY unless baby is low weight, than three times.

Newborn to One Week: 2 – 2+1/2 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings).
1-2 weeks: 5-7 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings).
(depending on bunny..may be much LESS if smaller rabbit).
2-3 weeks: 7-13 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings). Bunnies whose eyes are still CLOSED need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate before or after each feeding. Again, seek a professional on this. Domestic eyes open at about 10 days of age. Then start introducing them to timothy and oat hay, pellets and water (always add fresh greens for wild ones–dandelion greens, parsley, carrot tops, grated carrots, all fresh, watered down). See below for detail.
3-6 weeks: 13-15 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings–again, may be LESS depending on size of rabbit! A cottontail will take so much LESS–about half of this!.)

Domestics are weaned about 6 weeks. Cottontails wean and release about 3-4 weeks and jackrabbits much later (9+ weeks). Feed only twice a day up to these TOTAL amounts. You may find an eyedropper or syringe easiest to use. Feed them upright, and go slowly watching them lick and swallow so they do not aspirate. For domestic rabbits, if you have a healthy adult rabbit at home and you can collect cecotropes (the soft chain-like droppings that the rabbit usually eats) then these can be mixed with the KMR or goat milk to give the baby bunny normal bacteria for its intestinal tract. Only one cecotrope per day for 4-5 days is needed. This is particularly important for rabbits under one week of age. Acidophilus capsules for humans, opened and sprinkled some in formula, works well too.

After each feeding it is important to make the bunny defecate and urinate (until their eyes are open) to keep the intestinal tract and urinary system running smoothly. Use a cotton ball moistened with warm water and gently stroke the anal area until the bunny starts producing stool and urine and keep stroking until the bunny stops. You are reproducing the behavior of the mother rabbit who would lick her young to stimulate them to go to the bathroom and to keep the nest clean. No need to do this for jackrabbits or if bunny’s eyes are open.

As soon as their eyes are open, you may introduce the bunnies to hay, such as oat and timothy hay, some alfalfa, and pellets, and for wild ones, add dark leafy veggies such as dandelion greens, carrot tops, parsley, grated carrots, etc. Keep the greens fresh, moist, and stand them up in a heavy mug of water. Change greens often. If this is a wild rabbit, you do not need to introduce pellets. If this is a domestic rabbit baby, then you may introduce plain alfalfa pellets at 2 weeks of age (please refer to the handout Care of Rabbits for more information on diet). Wild rabbits should be released as soon as they are eating hay and greens and are approximately 5 inches in body length (for cottontails) and are afraid of you (about 3-4 weeks). Jackrabbits are released much later (9 weeks up). They will be small, but the longer you keep them, the more agitated and difficult to handle they will become, and the less likely their chances for survival in the wild. They may be easily injured in your care as they attempt to get free. For wild bunnies, please do not raise them yourself, but take them to a rehabber! Google your state and wildlife rehabber or see links above.

Modified from an original document from :
Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital

How to care for orphaned kittens above 3 weeks of age

Fading kitten syndrome (FMS) refers to neonatal death (death within the period of birth until weaning.) Kitten mortality is highest during the first week of life, accounting for 70-90% of deaths. Estimates show an 8.5 percent rate of stillbirth; 16% died before weaning.  

An extremely perceptive caregiver might be attuned to the signs of FKS and this may increase the kitten’s chance of survival. For example, low birth weight kittens, kittens with congenital abnormalities, and kittens who are poor nursers are at higher risk for FKS. People who rescue and foster pregnant cats and/or foster kittens should take time to learn to spot the signs of FKS as the offspring of stray and feral cats are particularly prone to this condition. Since FKS is so common, many people involved in feline rescue advocate for spaying rescued pregnant cats.

What Is Fading Kitten Syndrome?

Fading kitten syndrome is not a disease, but rather a collection of signs that develop in neonatal kittens. It has many underlying causes and leads to rapidly declining health. Unfortunately, one of the very first signs is the unexplained death of a very young kitten. Because of this, FKS has been compared to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in human babies.

Signs of Fading Kitten Syndrome in Cats

There are some indications that a kitten may be at risk for developing fading kitten syndrome. The signs to watch for include:

  • Extremely low birth weight: Kittens that develop FKS are often the smallest of the litter. They have a low birth weight and are not as active as their litter-mates.
  • Inability to nurse properly: Healthy kittens nurse almost immediately after birth. A fading kitten is often not strong enough to grasp and suckle the mother cat’s nipple. During the first 72 hours or so of nursing after birth, healthy kittens that are nursing well receive special milk called colostrum. This colostrum provides essential nutrients and antibodies. Colostrum gives the kitten passive immunity. allowing them to grow and thrive until they can receive vaccinations and stop nursing. If a kitten fails to nurse and needs to be bottle-fed it will not receive colostrum and is more likely to develop FKS.  
  • Abandonment: Mother cats sense when there is a weak kitten and may abandon it in favor of her other kittens. This is an instinctual reaction designed to protect the healthier kittens.
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature): Since newborn kittens can’t regulate their own body temperature, they depend on their mom for warmth. Therefore, abandoned kittens or kittens that do wander away from mom, rapidly develop hypothermia. Hypothermic kittens are lethargic. Its mouth and gums will be a bluish shade rather than a healthy pink. This can rapidly be fatal unless human intervention occurs.

How to care for orphaned kittens above 3 weeks of age

Causes of Fading Kitten Syndrome

There are many causes of FKS and treatment depends on the underlying reason.

  • Disease or malnutrition of the mother cat during gestation: If this is the queen’s first litter of the season, she may not have access to the amount of food required to grow healthy kittens. Depending on the environment, a queen can have up to five litters of kittens within a year. This is physically taxing on the female cat, causing malnourishment and illness. This combination does not bode well for late-season kittens, resulting in higher rates of stillbirth, congenital abnormalities, and kittens with FKS. This is why it’s so imperative to take a suspected pregnant cat to the veterinarian for a prenatal check-up. Your vet will discuss your options and how to take care of a pregnant cat.
  • Infectious diseases: There are a number of viral and bacterial infections that quickly affect an entire litter of kittens. Keep litters of stray or feral queens completely separate from your household cats. If possible, donate your time or money to local feral and rescue cat organizations that help spay and neuter stray cats.
  • Neonatal isoerythrolysis: This occurs when the queen and kitten have different blood types. The kitten’s red blood cells are destroyed by antibodies they receive from the mother cat’s colostrum.  
  • Fleas and other parasites: When fleas bite, they ingest blood and secrete saliva, so an infestation on a newborn kitten can lead to severe anemia or transmit parasites, both of which are potentially fatal.   Kittens are susceptible to other infectious agents including protozoal infections, intestinal parasites, and ticks.  

Treatment and Prevention

Since FKS is not an actual disease, but a collection of signs, it cannot be entirely prevented. The best course of action is to treat the specific signs and hope for the best. Consult a veterinarian right away if you notice any abnormal signs in a newborn kitten, especially lethargy, lack of nursing, and/or difficulty breathing. The kitten will be examined and tested for any infections or parasites. The vet will prescribe a course of action to treat any infection, prevent hypothermia, malnutrition, and dehydration. In the unfortunate event that the kitten does not survive, know that you did your best to help them and try to direct your attention to the mother cat and other kittens to make sure they are healthy and thriving.

Adopting a 5-week old kitten is a good idea because they are still baby and therefore easier to train and because they are already able to eat food other than their mom’s milk.

So, the two most basic aspects of kitten care, i.e. training for development and nurturing for growth, can be handled perfectly.

As a baby, however, a 5-week old kitten is considered weak and fragile. You need to know how to take the role once played by their mom and how to be a good master for your new tiny pet.

Here we will explore all aspects of 5-week old kitten care, including what to expect from a 5-week old kitten, their physical and behavioral features, their feeding and medical needs, their training, and their basic care.

How to care for orphaned kittens above 3 weeks of age

A 5-week old kitten starts to use their legs for standing or walking, although with constant shakiness. At the age of 5 weeks, they can be trained to be a social pet, so focus on their training to make them a friendly kitten.

The physical characteristics of a 5-week old kitten

Your kitten should acquire their first pound on week five because 1 pound is considered the normal 5-week old kitten weight. Female cats wane their kittens when the latter are 4 weeks old.

If you decide to take the kitten and make them your pet, you will start to feed them when they are 4 or 5 weeks old. The food that they eat will add 1 pound every month.

Although your kitten has already had baby teeth, they still look chubby like baby. At the age of 5 weeks, they will also start to learn to walk on their feet, although their gait is still shaky; however, it will not take very long before they can finally walk gracefully and even make a steady gallop.

If you want to know what the gender of your kitten is, you should consult your vet. The sexual organ of a 5-week old kittenhas not been developed fully, so it is rather difficult to find visual clues that determine your kitten’s gender.

How to feed a 5-week old Kitten

A 5-week old kitten is above all a baby, but they are a baby that you can safely take from their mother. Nursing female cats generally stop giving their milk to their baby and start weaning them starting from the age of 4.

Although the ongoing weaning process generally ends by the time your kitten reaches 8 weeks of age, after the age of 4 weeks, your kitten can actually take any alternative to their mom’s milk.

Giving them proper 5-week old kitten feed is thus an extra responsibility for you as a new “mom” for the cute baby.

Your 5-week old kitten will need a steady supply of food that is rich in nutrients, especially protein. Because they are recently weaned, kitten formula should be the best nutrition for your kitten.

Although they already have baby teeth, giving them dry food to accompany the formula might not be the best idea. Instead, give them wet and soft feed that they can easily munch and digest.

How to train your 5-week old kitten

A 5-week old kitten is becoming more active and aggressive. If they grow with their mom and litter mates, they will spend most of their time playing with them. If you let them grow with you, you will become their mate.

You may think that this will become another extra duty that you have to deal with, but playing with them is actually an important aspect of 5-week old kitten care that strengthens your bond with your kitten and allows them to know that you and they are in the same family.

Just like human baby, kitten also uses their teeth and claws when playing. Although their teeth and claws are not fully developed yet, they are sharp enough to hurt or even wound you.

Therefore, make sure that you train your kitten not to bite you, anyone or anything. Give them teether or toy so that they can have an interesting object to bite.

You may also need to scold them if they start to bite you and to praise them when they don’t use their teeth when playing with you.

If you continue to train your kitten this way, they should eventually be able to understand proper behavior and manner.

Lastly, take your kitten out and introduce them to other kittens and people. This 5-week old kitten training is important to expand your kitten’s social life.

5-week old kitten’s medical monitoring

A 5-week old kitten also requires intensive medical monitoring. Although they will not get their first vaccination shots until they reach 8 weeks of age, addressing flea problem and possible diseases, such as problem with immune system, is an important aspect of 5-week old kitten care.

How To Litter Train a Kitten

Take your kitten to your vet to find out about the best non-toxic flea treatment for them and to test whether your kitten suffers from dangerous diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus.

Don’t forget to take a fecal sample to find out whether your kitten eats properly or whether they have some problem with their digestive system.

A kitten weight chart or growth chart is an important tool to help gauge proper kitten development. With or without their mother cat, a kitten should grow steadily, at certain rates, and a variety of changes should occur within a certain time frame. The biggest indicator that a kitten is developing properly starts with weight gain, according to a kitten weight chart.

Kittens grow very quickly during the first 12 weeks of their life, and with or without their mom’s, it’s important for us pet parents to oversee their proper development. Mom cats do a wonderful job feeding their babies the proper amounts, grooming them, and helping them grow and learn. Humans left to care for orphaned kittens need to do the same.

Regardless, in either scenario, certain steps can be taken to catch problems earlier rather than later. Early detection of problems, like failure to thrive, can make the difference in life or death for a helpless kitten.

Why Follow a Kitten Weight Chart

A kitten weight chart is a great way to gauge your kitten’s growth. In fact, it is recommended that all kittens, with or without mom, get weighed on a regular basis. If a kitten is failing to grow or thrive, this can indicate serious problems with your kitten’s health.

To keep track of kitten weight, it is often easiest to use,of all things, a kitchen food scale. Once weekly, kittens should be weighed, and their weights recorded and tracked. The weight range providedin the kitten weight chart below covers both male and female kittens, as well as a large number of breed builds, but your particular kitten may not fit perfectly into the weight ranges.

How to care for orphaned kittens above 3 weeks of age

Even more important than your kitten falling within a perfect range, week after week, on the above chart, it is important toensure that kittens are gaining roughly ¼ to ½ an ounce every day, or 1.75 to 3.5 ounces every week.

What Does My Kitten Growth Chart Mean?

Weight can be the number one indicator of problems in many cats, but where kittens are concerned, this is especially true. Kittens growvery rapidly, because in the wild, they would be expected to be weaned and fending for themselves by the time they are 12-16 weeks old. A kitten that is not growing is usually sick or may not be getting enough nutrition.

If kittens are still with their mom, it’s possible that there’s a health problem with mom as well. If you’re feeding orphaned kittens, you may not be doing so often enough and/or there could be an issue with your formula, for instance. In any case, if a kitten is not gaining 1.75 to 3.5 ounces every week, he or she should be examined by your veterinarian right away.

Furthermore, it has been my professional recommendation that kittens are spayed or neutered when they weigh roughly 4 pounds. As you can see from the growth chart provided above, this generally means that your kitten will be 12-16 weeks old by the time I would recommend neutering. While shelters often do so earlier, it is my professional opinion that weight until a kitten is roughly 4 pounds is safest.

If you’re caring for kittens without mom, please see these additional helpful articles for other important kitten care info: