There are 2 kittens outside our house, only a few weeks old (perhaps a month) but their Mom died in an accident. Now there is no one to take care of them. We have decided to step in and take care of them but I don't know what to feed them as they are very young and may not have teeth to chew kibble.

Another question, should I give them a bath, they are very dirty as they were outside in dirt. Thanks!

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    Kittens at this age can often be "adopted" by other cats. Take them to a vet and see if they can help. The best outcome for these kittens is to have them raised by an adoptive mother cat. – Jack Aidley May 15 at 9:07
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    If only there was some profession that knew about animals and how to care for them. That would be handy, don't you think? :-) It's likely that a vet would be so impressed with your good will that they'd fall over themselves to give you advice. – user12137 May 16 at 4:55
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    and probably smitten by the kittens – can-ned_food May 16 at 14:46
  • @paxdiablo - do you really think your sarcasm towards OP is warranted? Your suggestion is pure nonsense in the overwhelming majority of the world, where getting basic medical care for humans is not an option, let alone animal shelters and vets who will just accept random animals. I'm in Eastern European country, with a standard far higher than Pakistan where OP is, and vets here are still basically just people who you pay to treat your cattle. – Davor May 17 at 9:32
  • @Davor, I prefer to think of it as humour rather than sarcasm, since that was what was intended (see the smiley). – user12137 May 17 at 12:52
up vote 36 down vote accepted

At this young age the kittens still require milk, you can probably get some kitten milk from a vet store, a quality pet store with a knowledgeable staff, or make your own (only if not available elsewhere, as it is extremely hard to get the nutrition correct, but should be safe for a few days until you find a commercially available one). They will have to be fed with a bottle or tube of proper size.

If you have a vet available, please get in touch with them as soon as possible as they will be able to give you advice and help you with the supplies you will be needing.

From the first article linked below:

Emergency Kitten Milk Replacer

3 oz condensed milk

3 oz water

4 oz plain yogurt (not low fat)

3 large or 4 small egg yolks - no whites

It is very important to accurately age the kittens, as they may not be able to properly urinate or defecate yet, which is something they are able to do at about 3 weeks. If they are under three weeks, you can take a cotton ball or piece of very soft cloth moistened with warm water, and gently rub the anal and genital area; within one to two minutes the kitten will urinate and/or defecate.

Washing: Most washing should be done with a damp cloth, to also teach them to groom themselves, but if they are very dirty it's ok to use warm water under a faucet to clean dirt out. Be careful not to get water in their noses, mouths, and ears. If these areas need cleaning use a dry or moist cotton swab or cotton ball, or a clean piece of cloth. It's important to not leave them wet for too long, as this is a sure way for them to get too cold.

Links to help you along:

I helped raise a pair of infant kittens last year (my wife found them abandoned at 3-4 days of age). We gave them kitten milk replacement from a vet. Because the milk replacement wasn't very high quality I tried giving them meat at a very young age (I can't remember exactly how young, but they they were too young to chew anyway, probably ~3 weeks old).

Specifically, I started them on very small slivers of raw chicken heart, they would suck the sliver of meat into their mouth and suck on it - I think they wanted to suck it in, but it would get caught on their tiny teeth. After a couple of days they learned how to eat it properly and pretty quickly lost interest in the milk replacement, at that point I also started feeding them a wet food for kittens to ensure they got the nutrients they needed. They gained weight much faster once they were eating food. Overall they were "weaned" from milk at a significantly younger age than kittens with a mother would be, but they still thrived and are both now very large and healthy cats.

Tangentially related we also found a severely emaciated young kitten at about the same time (probably 4-6 weeks old), which I also initially fed slivers of raw chicken heart. It seems to be particularly tempting for them.

If/once they are big enough to chew you can try giving them raw chicken necks or wings (in pieces too large to swallow whole), even small kittens are remarkably effective at chewing the meat from bones and it will help them with teething and jaw development. They also make adorable growling noises while chewing.

The final thing to note is that the first few months of a kittens life are extremely formative in terms of what it grows up believing food is. While cats can be fussy, a young kitten will try eating almost anything and it will tend to remember what it ate as a kitten. Since I didn't intend to keep any of these kittens, I fed them all a broad range of food: raw meat, raw bones, wet food and kibble, so as adults they would eat anything their forever owner deemed fit to feed them.

This conditioning also makes it easier to give cats medicine or special medical diets, a concrete example of this is that these kittens were extremely hard for the vet to handle (being hand-raised by humans made them uppity) and he couldn't give them squirt-in-the-mouth oral medicine due to all the squirming and wriggling. I asked for pills instead and just stuffed a pill into a chicken heart, which the kitten would swallow whole, oblivious to just being fed medicine. We have another cat who obviously only ever ate kibble as a kitten and she is a nightmare to give pills to as she never mastered the art of snaking down whole pieces of meat and is suspicious of things that smell funny. So this is your chance to condition the kittens into being easy to feed and medicine cats.

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    Overall a good answer, but I'd avoid giving cats (or dogs) bones from chickens as they fracture into sharp bits which can cause internal bleeding as they move through the digestive system. – Stig Tore May 15 at 10:36
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    @StigTore I've never known a cat (let along a kitten) to actually chew up bones, they just chew off the meat and perhaps the cartilage. They do swallow chicken necks, either whole or biting through the vertebrae but shouldn't be any splinters there. It would seem to be a wise precaution to not break the bones. I've heard the bones should always be raw since cooked bones are apparently more prone to forming sharp splinters, though commercial chicken bones are ridiculously soft, my parents would give our dogs cooked bones from chicken but not wild duck, the hardness difference is very apparent. – Blake Walsh May 15 at 11:06
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    @StigTore Splintering is a problem with cooked chicken bones only, not raw chicken bones. Mind you, I would not recommend feeding raw chicken to cats either due to the chances of food poisoning. – Jack Aidley May 15 at 12:30

Don't give solid till they are 4weeks. Eyes and ears open at 5 to 10 days. Irrigardless of age they probably need feeding every 3 hours. If you can get wet kitten food that might be easier or dampen the kibble with a little water.

KMR to start, from a bottle, easy to buy, google it, until they reach solids then moisten dry food, put on your finger and try to get them to eat it, put some in their mouth, same with wet kitten food on a finger, once they take to it, and they will off your finger, then getting them to eat from plate then a bowl is simple. Call your local rescue, they will coach you. They love people willing to step in and do the work.

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