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How To Take Care Of A Kitten You’ve Just Found

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Bringing a stray kitten to a safe environment is important for its safety and well-being.
  • Check the kitten for any signs of injuries and seek veterinary care if needed.
  • Look for the kitten's mother before taking any further action, but if the mother is not present, provide a warm and quiet environment with toys for stimulation.
  • Use a suitable kitten formula and baby bottles for feeding if the kitten is still nursing.
  • Establish a feeding schedule for the kitten based on its age, and consider visiting a veterinarian for necessary medical care. If unable to provide proper care, consider rehoming the kitten.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Practicing small pets and equine veterinarian and junior teaching assistant in Veterinary Medicine.
Published on
Sunday 17 December 2023
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
How To Take Care Of A Kitten You Found
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If you’ve stumbled upon a cute and fluffy kitten in need of a home, it’s understandable to feel a strong urge to take care of it. However, taking in a stray kitten can be a complex process, especially if you’re not ready. But fret not, we’ve got you! In this article, we will provide you with detailed information on how to care for a kitten you found. 

Whether you’re a first-time kitten owner or an experienced pet parent, our guide offers essential tips and tricks. It is to ensure your new furry friend stays healthy and happy. So, let’s dive in and explore everything you need to know about taking care of a stray kitten.

How to Take Care of a Stray Kitten

If you’ve found a stray kitten, bring it to a sheltered environment. This is to keep it safe from potential dangers like attacks from predators, exposure to diseases, and poisoning. 

Once the kitten is in a safe place, check it for any signs of injuries. Open wounds and injuries can get infected and even lead to death. If you’re not prepared for it, visit a vet to evaluate the kitten’s overall health. Also, the vet may help provide the necessary vaccinations to the kitten and create a schedule for booster shots.

It’s preferable to look for its mother to effectively fulfill its food, warmth, and protection needs. But if you can’t find the kitten’s mom, then provide it with a warm, safe, and quiet environment with toys for its mental stimulation. Also, get kitten formula and baby bottles to feed them properly. 

Below, we’ll explore the guidelines you should follow to take care of a stray kitten by creating a nurturing environment for it and helping it find a new home:

Check for Injuries

It’s crucial to check a stray kitten for injuries when you find it. Stray kittens can be vulnerable to various injuries such as cuts, bruises, and infections, which can lead to severe health problems if left untreated. Therefore, examine the kitten, and if you identify any sign of injury, seek veterinary care immediately. 

When checking a kitten for injuries, it’s important to approach it gently and cautiously to avoid causing any further harm or stress. 

If the kitten is limping or has difficulty moving, it may suffer from a limb injury, like a broken bone or sprain. According to PDSA, signs of limping include difficulty moving, reluctance to jump, and swollen legs/joints. Moreover, swelling or inflammation on any part of the kitten’s body could also be a sign of an injury or infection.

Look for the Mom

Kittens rely heavily on their mothers for food, warmth, and protection in the first few weeks of their lives. So, if you find a stray kitten, it’s important to look for its mother before taking any further action. If the kitten is still nursing and its mother is present, separating them can negatively affect the physical and mental development of the kitten.

To see if the kitten’s mother is around, observe it for a while and see if its mother returns. If the mother doesn’t return within a few hours, it’s best to take the kitten in and provide it with appropriate care. If the kitten is in a dangerous location, such as a busy road, don’t wait for the mom and move it to a safe place immediately.

Provide a Safe and Quiet Space

Kittens can easily get uncomfortable in new environments, unfamiliar people, and loud noises. According to Debra Horwitz, DVM, all kittens need time to investigate their surroundings. If you provide them with a safe and quiet environment, they can get comfortable with their new place much more quicker. 

We recommend choosing a warm and quiet area of your home for the kitten, away from any potential stressors like other pets and loud music. Set up a comfortable bed or a soft blanket, food, and water dishes. You can also add some toys to provide mental stimulation and exercise.

Look for Cat Formula and Baby Bottles

If the stray cat is still nursing, it needs proper nutrition to develop and stay healthy. Never feed it human baby formula or cow’s milk as they contain lactose which, according to research published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice, is indigestible for kittens. Instead, get a suitable kitten formula specifically designed for your kitten’s age and health status. It’s best to consult a veterinarian to figure out the right formula for your kitten. 

You will also need kitten-sized baby bottles and nipples to feed your kitten which are available at most pet supply stores. Make sure to clean the bottles and nipples thoroughly with warm water and soap before use. When feeding the kitten, hold it gently and offer the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Let the kitten suckle at its own pace and take breaks if gets too full.

Feed it According to a Schedule

Establishing the right feeding schedule for your kitten is crucial for their health and development. As kittens have small stomachs, feeding them according to a set schedule helps regulate their appetite and prevent overeating or under-eating. Plus, it helps create a routine for your kitten, making it easier for it to adjust to its new environment. 

Here are some quick guidelines for feeding a kitten:

  • Under 4 weeks – If your kitten is young (under 4 weeks old), feed it every 2-3 hours. This means you may need to wake up during the night to feed them or leave food out for the night. 
  • Between 4-6 weeks – For older kittens (4-8 weeks old), you can feed them less frequently, ideally every 4-6 hours. 
  • Between 6-9 weeks – According to the veterinary reference book, Small Animal Clinical Nutrition (5th Edition), kittens should be weaned between 6-9 weeks and gradually shifted from liquid to semi-solid and finally solid food. Introduce solid food to their diet and feed them 3-4 times a day. 
  • Over 12 weeks Once the kitten is over 12 weeks, you can feed them twice a day with a combination of wet and dry food. 

Bring Them to the Vet

It’s worth visiting a veterinarian when you find a stray kitten to ensure it receives the necessary medical care for a healthy life. The vet can perform a thorough physical exam and evaluate the kitten’s overall health. They can check for any underlying health issues, such as parasites or infections, and provide the appropriate treatment. 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPC) recommends a series of vaccinations to protect kittens against infectious diseases like feline leukemia and rabies. A veterinarian can provide the necessary vaccinations and establish a schedule for booster shots. Also, a vet can guide you in caring for your kitten as a first-time pet owner, including diet, exercise, and grooming. 

Rehome If Necessary

If you think you cannot provide the kitten with the care, attention, or resources it needs, consider rehoming it. Here are a few steps you can follow to find a new owner for your kitten:

  • Animal shelters – Contact animal shelters or rescue organizations and ask them if they accept stray kittens and help them find a new home. 
  • Friends and family – Reach out to your friends and family to see if anyone is looking to adopt a kitten. 
  • Social media – Spread the word using your social media channels, like Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp. 

Note: Before the kitten goes to its new home, ensure it is up-to-date on vaccinations and has received all necessary medical care. You can also stay in touch with the new parents to ensure the kitten is adjusting well to its new home.

Should I Keep the Kitten Outdoors?

Keeping the newly found kitten indoors is preferable to provide it with a quiet, safe, and warm environment. Living indoors protects them from potential dangers like traffic accidents, attacks from other animals, exposure to diseases, and poisoning. 

According to VCA Hospitals, susceptible cats can get infected by direct contact with another cat, which is quite possible for outdoor kittens. Also, indoor cats live 10-15 years on average, while outdoor cats usually only live 2-5 years.

Still, you can keep the kitten outdoors by providing a safe and secure outdoor space like an enclosed backyard. It should be free of hazards like toxic plants, sharp objects, or escape routes. Also, you should be willing to supervise your kitten when they’re outside. But if you can’t manage a safe outdoor space for your kitten, it’s preferable to keep them indoors. 

If you keep your kitten outdoors, ensure it’s easily identifiable by using a safety collar or a microchip. A GPS tracker is another great way to protect your kitten by easily monitoring it from your phone. Also, your kitten must be properly vaccinated to keep it safe from viruses like cat flu. 

But if you don’t have a safe outdoor space and can’t keep the kitten inside, it’s preferable to rehome it. Ask your friends and family if they’d like to keep a pet kitten. Alternatively, try contacting animal shelters and rescue organizations. 

How To Take Care Of A Kitten You Found: FAQs 

Below, we’ll address commonly asked questions about caring for a kitten that you have found.

How do you take care of a kitten without its mother?

To take care of a kitten without a mother, get a kitten formula designed for your kitten’s age and health status and a kitten feeder to feed them. Additionally, monitor the kitten’s health and get it vaccinated if needed. You should also provide the kitten with lots of toys for its mental stimulation and development. 

What do you feed abandoned kittens? 

If you find an abandoned kitten, feed it with a special kitten formula that is designed as a replacement for cat milk. This formula is designed to be gentle on the kitten’s digestive system. Also, never feed the kitten cow’s milk, as it can cause digestive issues like diarrhea. 

How old can a kitten survive without its mother?

How old a kitten can survive without its mother depends on its age, health status, and access to appropriate care. Newborn kittens under 4 weeks old require round-the-clock care, which can be hard to arrange without their mother. Kittens over 4 weeks old have a higher chance of surviving as they require less care. 

Can you give the kitten water?

Yes, you can give water to your kitten but be sure it’s clean and fresh. However, overfeeding your kitten with water can lead to diarrhea and other digestive issues. If you are bottle-feeding a kitten, providing additional water is unnecessary as the milk replacer provides all the necessary hydration.

How can you tell how old a kitten is?

You can tell a kitten’s age by its features like eyes, ears, teeth, coat, and more. Newborn kittens have closed eyes, which open when they’re around 7-10 days old. Kittens’ ears usually open around the same time as their eyes. Moreover, kittens develop teeth when they’re around 4 weeks of age. 

If you’ve found an abandoned or separated kitten, provide them with a safe environment and appropriate nutrition. Visit a vet to physically examine the kitten and ensure it’s medically fit. If you can’t keep the kitten, reach out to a local animal rescue organization and ask them if they will accept your kitten.

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