Tips For Caring For A Stray Kitten
13 February, 2012

My friend, Susan, found a stray kitten and wanted to take care of him to the best of her ability.  She asked me for some tips on what she should do to help him thrive while she decides whether or not to add him to her family.  She and her big heart knew that kittens have a harder time surviving outdoors than do adult strays so she wanted to help him.

The first thing anyone should attempt to do when finding a stray kitten is to look for the mother cat. A stray kitten may belong to a feral cat that is moving her kittens. If the kitten is in no immediate danger, wait at least a couple hours for the mother to return. If the mother doesn’t appear, take the kitten home.

Below are the next steps in care:

PROVIDE FOOD AND WATER

A young kitten can’t eat solid food yet, so you’ll need to feed him or her kitten milk replacement from a bottle. At around five weeks of age, kittens begin eating solid food. If you can’t tell the kitten’s age, you can attempt wet food and see how the kitten reacts.  Kittens between five to seven weeks old can eat wet or moist cat food or dry food moistened with water. For kittens younger than one year, choose a food formulated for kittens. These foods provide the higher amounts of fat, protein and nutrients that a growing kitten needs.

Thanks for taking me home!


TAKE THE KITTEN TO THE VETERINARIAN

Take the kitten to a veterinarian to be treated for parasites. Strays inevitably come with fleas and worms and may also have ticks or other parasites. These parasites can cause serious health problems, and therefore must be dealt with immediately.  Further, at six weeks, kittens will also need vaccinations.

Not all health problems will be visible, but if you notice anything, you can alert the vet during the check-up. Look for issues such as lack of appetite, limping sneezing, coughing and discharge from the eyes or nose.

GROOM THE KITTEN

A stray that has been outdoors is likely to have dirt in its coat. Use a wide-toothed comb to work out smaller tangles and a brush to remove dirt. Use care because the kitten may have an injury you didn’t see earlier. If the kitten seems healthy, you may also want to try to bathe him or her.


TRY TO SOCIALIZE THE KITTEN

Kittens learn social skills from birth; however, five to seven weeks is the most critical period. Bring your kitten into a small room or dog kennel large enough to hold the kitten’s food, water and litter box. Gently handle the kitten and play with him or her using toys the kitten can swat at or pounce on.  Eventually, you will be able to carefully introduce your kitten to dogs, cats and/or other pets in your home.

While taking in a stray kitten is not the easiest job, it will be worthwhile in the end.  And, you can feel great about saving this kitten’s life and providing him a wonderful home.

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