What To Do If You Find An Orphan Kitten


Watch Our Raising Orphan Kittens Instructional Video!




If you are in the Bay Area, visit a Pet Food Express store for your free Pre-Wean Kitten Starter Kit! 



IMPORTANT- Please try to locate mom and other kittens before removing the kitten(s) from where you found them. If you are unsure if the kitten is an orphan, please read this article:  Is This An Orphan Kitten?

If you cannot locate mom, do not leave orphan kittens outside alone as they will likely die.

Immediate Care

  • A neonatal/orphan kitten is usually chilled (body cool to the touch, may cry constantly) and/or dehydrated (mouth and tongue dry, mucous membranes pale, scruff doesn't spring back quickly when pinched).

  • Warm the kitten up slowly -- with body heat only! Do not use hot water bottles, heaters, blow dryers, etc!

  • If they are listless, put some Karo Syrup (corn syrup) on your finger and rub it on their gums.

  • To prevent dehydration-give the kitten unflavored Pedialyte ½ cc per ounce of body weight per hour until they are warm and can eat.

  • Do not feed a chilled kitten! Its intestines aren't working and it may become bloated and die.

  • Do not feed a kitten cow's milk! They cannot digest cow's milk. You will need to go to a pet store and purchase kitten formula. You can find KMR and Just Born in liquid or powder form. Cat's milk sold in grocery and pet stores is not the same--it does not provide nutritional needs developing kittens require.

  • Never microwave the formula to heat it; warm the formula with hot running water or place in a cup of hot water until warm. Microwaving formula can break down the nutrients and can also create hot spots.

  • Feed with a small bottle or syringe. Four Paws and PetAg make bottles the right size for feeding neonatal kittens.  These can be found at any pet store.

  • Cut a criss-cross X at the top of the nipple for very young kittens or snip off the very tip for older kittens.

  • Please be sure to read all the information in the links below on feeding/pottying to make sure they don't aspirate the formula in their lungs, to learn how to burp them after feeding, and how to help them go to the bathroom, etc. 



We are working on a mentoring program for people who find kittens and need guidance on how to hand raise them. While we get this program up and running, we have provided a few helpful links on supplies you will need, how to determine the kitten's age, and more below. If you have more specific questions, please contact us at mentor@ibokrescue.org.  Unfortunately, we cannot take in any kittens at this time as our foster homes are full, but we can help by providing supplies and guidance!


There's also a great yahoo group for help with orphan kittens:

We're sorry, but IBOK Rescue is unable to accept additional kittens into our foster care program at this time as all of our foster homes are full. Please be aware that if you take kittens younger than two months or weighing less than two pounds to a shelter, they will likely be euthanized. If you can provide care for kittens until they reach two months/two pounds, you can take them to the shelter and they will try to find them homes. 

PLEASE DO NOT GIVE KITTENS AWAY FOR FREE WITHOUT SPAYING OR NEUTERING THEM FIRST!  Doing this will just create more kittens and then more kittens and cats will die. San Jose has a low cost spay/neuter program that will fix a kitten at two months/two pounds and only costs $15.00 for males and $20.00 for females.  Please get your kittens or cats spayed or neutered!

Photos courtesy of Michelle Spivack.