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Orphaned Animal Care

For kittens: Pet Ag manufactures KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer). It comes in a powder and a liquid. 
For puppies: Pet Ag makes ESBILAC. Again, both powder and liquid forms are available. 

The Bottle 

  1. Obtain a pet nurser bottle.
  2. Use very fine scissors or a hot needle to make a hole in the nipple. The hole should be big enough that formula will slowly drip out if the bottle is held upside-down and gently squeezed. The nipple should not collapse when the baby is sucking.
  3. Warm the bottle in a cup of hot water. Always test the formula before giving it to the babies. Taste it to be sure it is not sour. Do not use a microwave oven to heat the bottle as it may not heat evenly with some areas of the bottle being scalding hot.

When to Feed

  1. Expect to feed them every 2 to 3 hours during the day. If this is done, the babies should be able to sleep through the night.
  2. Do not wake the babies at feeding time. Let them sleep. When they wake up hungry, they will let you know.
  3. During feeding be sure to tip the bottle so that no air is swallowed.
  4. Play with/rub them after feeding to “burp” them.
  5. Occasionally small amounts of formula will come out of the nose. The baby is drinking too fast. If excessive amounts of formula appear to be coming out the nose or if you are concerned, call our veterinarian.
  6. Maintaining proper weight gain is crucial to survival. Kittens with birth weights of less than 3.2 oz (90 grams) have a 59% mortality rate (though a less than 10% weight loss in the first 24 hours of life is considered normal). After the first 24 hours, weight gain should be steady: 0.25 to 0.35 oz per day for kittens and 5% to 10% of the birth weight daily for puppies. An accurate postal or kitchen scale is helpful during this early period to be sure the baby is on a healthy track. If the baby is not gaining weight as desired, try to adjust food intake.


  1. Infant animals are unable to take care of these matters alone and must be given help. Normally their mother’s tongue does the job as she washes them. Use a cotton swab, tissue, or your finger to gently rub the baby’s genital area. Have a tissue ready to catch the urine.
  2. Rubbing the anal area as well may also be necessary if the babies do not seem to be defecating as much as expected. Watch for diarrhea. Normal infant stool is normally very loose but should not be watery.


  1. Using baby shampoo and warm water, bathe the babies a couple of times daily. Urine will burn their tender skin and caked feces can lead to infection so keeping the babies clean is very important.
  2. Take care not to submerge the infant in water. Be careful that it cannot drown or choke on the water and be sure the water temperature is acceptable.
  3. Gently blow dry the babies when the bath is over. Do not allow chilling.

How to be Sure you are on Track

The best way to be sure everything is going well is to track weight gain in your new babies. A postal scale or food scale (ideally one that measures weight in grams) will be helpful. A puppy or kitten should gain 10% of the birth weight every day and should be drinking 22 to 26 cc of formula per 100 grams of body weight over the course of the day. Puppies are variable in growth expectancy depending on breed but kittens are more predictable and should gain 50 to 100 grams weekly. 

Kittens weighing less than 90 grams (approx 3 oz) at birth have a very high mortality rate. 

Starting Solid Food

  1. When the babies start biting and chewing at their bottle instead of sucking (3-4 weeks of age), they may be started on some finely textured canned food. At first it may be necessary to mix solid food with a little formula and /or smear a little around their mouths gently with a finger.**Friskies canned Kitten Meals for kittens **Chicken or turkey baby food for puppies
  2. Between ages 4 and 6 weeks, they should begin readily accepting solid food. New homes may be found for them at age 8 weeks. Be aware that in many states it is not legal to transfer ownership of a puppy or kitten until this age anyway.

Colostrum is the first milk produced by the mother shortly after giving birth. It is rich in antibodies which will protect the babies for the first several months of life. 

Without colostrum (if their mother did not nurse the kittens during the first 2 days of life) the babies are virtually without an immune system. Especially great care should be taken in cleanliness and the babies should be vaccinated at 2 weeks of age. They may require a plasma transfusion to make up for the colostrum. There is no substitute for a real mother. 

For more information on raising orphan kittens see: http://www.hdw-inc.com/tinykitten.htm