Orphaned Kitten Care How to

April 2013 by Laurie Peek, DVM and Heidi Beyer, CVT

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

These short videos will provide essential care instructions for orphaned kittens. Whether you are a seasoned foster parent or just getting started saving these orphaned baby lives, these videos will guide you through the basics.

After viewing all of the videos, click here to take the quiz and receive a Certificate of Attendance!

Examining an Orphaned Kitten 

The physical exam gives you valuable baseline information to help you know if your kitten is thriving or in trouble. Learn the basics in this short video.

Video Length: 5 Minutes

Bottle Feeding an Orphaned Kitten

How do you get a kitten to drink from a bottle? How often should you feed him? How do you know if the nipple flow is too fast or too slow? Get a step-by-step guide to doing it right in this short video.

Video Length: 7 Minutes

Stimulating an Orphaned Kitten to Urinate and Defecate

Mother cats take care of stimulating their kittens to urinate and defecate, but kittens without mothers need help. This step-by-step guide can get any human up to feline mother standards in no time, and provides guidance on what to do if problems arise.

Video Length: 3 Minutes

Bathing an Orphaned Kitten

Orphaned kittens are messy, and without their mother can become covered with stool or food very quickly. Spot baths are best for kittens, but sometimes a full bath is necessary. In this video, caregivers will get tips on giving spot dry and wet baths as well as full baths, including how to avoid chilling.

Video Length: 3 Minutes

Weaning Orphaned Kittens onto Solid Foods

The transition from formula to solid foods begins at about 3-4 weeks of age for orphaned kittens. But adjusting to solid foods can stress the kitten's digestive system. This video will guide caregivers through food selection and preparation, along with tips for handling the transition period.

Video Length: 3 Minutes

Giving Orphaned Kittens Probiotics

Orphaned kittens often have digestive problems, including diarrhea. Giving probiotics may help prevent or reduce the severity of diarrhea, but getting them into the kitten can be difficult. These tips will help caregivers know which probiotic formula to use, how much to give and how to give the probiotics correctly.

Video Length: 2 Minutes

Slideshow: Happy Endings for Orphaned Kittens
Nothing makes the sleepless nights and anxiety worth it to a kitten caregiver like seeing their little charges grow up and get adopted. Check out this slideshow documenting the steps from the earliest days to the happily-ever-afters!

Dr. Laurie Peek

Laurie Peek, DVM

Dr. Peek graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1996. She has been involved with Maddie's Fund® since its inception. As Maddie's Fund Director of Veterinary Programs, she has guided decisions on veterinary school grants and guidelines and advised on veterinary related issues. As Director of Maddie's InstituteSM, she has launched a series of live and on-demand webcasts on various shelter medicine topics designed to help shelter personnel address medical and behavioral problems in shelter dogs and cats, thereby helping them save more lives. Dr. Peek has also practiced small animal medicine and surgery and provides spay/neuter and adoption assistance to several animal welfare organizations in her community. She has been a foster parent to many kittens over the years.

Heidi Beyer, CVT

Special Thanks to Heidi Beyer, CVT, for Her Invaluable Contributions

Heidi Beyer received her Veterinary Technician license from Canton College in New York in 1984. She served 6 years on the Board of Directors for Dane County Friends of Ferals. Working closely with local feline rescues has given Heidi the opportunity to help hundreds of kittens.

With 29 years as a practicing technician, and nearly 20 years of experience caring for orphaned kittens, Heidi has the passion and commitment to help these vulnerable babies. Her expertise is fostering neonates, some just hours old, and raising them through to the socialization period (8 weeks of age).

Heidi lives in Mount Horeb, WI, with her husband, Chuck, 3 dogs, 5 cats and varying numbers of foster kittens and cats.


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