Care and Feeding of Newborn Kittens

week old kitten drinking from bottle
I’m helping bottle feed a week old kitten. I have nights. I am tired. The kitten is adorable but honestly to me he’s pretty much a blurry furry thing who gets milk all over me and pees on my shirt. I love him in a passionate but somewhat comatose way. I am REALLY tired.

With this in mind, here’s what to do if you find a newborn – 4 week old kitten:

1. LEAVE IT ALONE. Seriously. Mom is probably coming back. Just chill. The survival rate for newborn kittens separated from mom too early is awful. Just wait for the return of mom.

2.OH WOW MOM DID COME BACK – rejoice and leave it the hell alone for at least 5 weeks – 8 if you can. Then you can scoop them up and get them spayed or neutered and rehomed.

3. BUT WHAT ABOUT PREDATORS? Nature is red in tooth and claw and yet kittens are still better off risking being lunch than being taken away from mom too soon.

4. MOM HASN’T COME BACK. Wash it in warm water. Dawn dish soap helps get fleas off. They are too little for flea meds so let the water do its thing and then pick the rest off by hand, you lucky human.

5. HOW DO I FEED IT? Happily, there are videos to show you how, but basically you will buy kitten formula and fed it to your little infant about every 2 hours. You want their heads to be up, not reclined like a human baby, because if they recline while nursing they can aspirate the milk. If it’s asleep, wake it up. Around the clock. Enjoy.

6. I HAVE TO DO WHAT???? After every feeding you must lick the kitten’s butt. But since you are not a cat you can use a washcloth or tissue instead of your tongue. This stimulates the kitten’s muscles so it can pee and poop. It can’t do these things on its own.

7. Make sure it is warm. Kittens can’t regulate their own temperature.

dog sniffing kitten

Do not feed the kitten to your dog.




Happily, there are a lot of websites with charts and videos that show you all the details: how warm is warm enough, how much the kitten should eat, when you can stop bottle feeding, etc. Just don’t rescue kittens that don’t need rescuing! Here’s a good site:

Look at my little fluffy!

a very tired me with snuggly kitten



One thought on “Care and Feeding of Newborn Kittens

  1. Michelle Kunert says:

    My mom had a calico cat for 15 years she found as a “newborn” that had been dumped in the street (and mom almost ran her over with her car) I told mom to name her “Hurley” after the street where she found her and picked her up, which she did. The cat her whole life was never fond of me when I came over, she only was affectionate and cuddly with mom, probably because she was the one whom bottle-fed and handled her the most from the beginning. Mom has had lots of rescue cats but it was the hardest for her of all to have to put Hurley down for having cancer earlier this month.

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