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How Long Can Newborn Kittens Survive Without Their Mom?

If you have newborn kittens that appear to be without their mom you may be wondering how long they can survive and what you should do…

How Long Can Newborn Kittens Survive Without Their Mom?

How long a newborn kitten can survive without their mom will depend on whether or not a human intervention is available. A kitten under four weeks old that doesn’t have a mom around needs to be cared for constantly, ensuring they are eating, eliminating, and learning basic skills.

Mothers don’t always stay by their kitten’s side throughout the whole day, especially if they live outdoors, but rest assured she consistently checks in on their kittens and ensures they have the care they need. It’s also pretty common for moms to move their kittens to different spots to stay safe and avoid attracting predators.

When Are Kittens Old Enough To Look After Themselves?

A gray and white kitten lying on a bed.

A gray and white kitten lying on a bed.

Kittens tend to reach a fairly substantial level of independence when they are six weeks old. At this age milestone, kittens have learned almost everything a mother could teach them. However, if the mom is still around, it’s not recommended that you separate your kittens from their mom until they are eight weeks old.

If a mother can help it, she won’t push her kittens to be independent until she knows they are ready and capable. This doesn’t mean she stays with them at all times before they are ready to be on her own; she’ll leave them for short periods to eat or sleep.

Can A New Kitten Drink Cow’s Milk?

Cow’s milk is not a healthy choice for kittens. Should you need to feed a newborn kitten and your mom isn’t around, kitten formula is readily available on the market. Kitten formula is more nutritionally dense than cow’s milk, and is formulated specifically for a little kitten to grow healthy and strong.

Kitten formula will have to be fed to a kitten with a bottle until they are old enough to eat on their own. It’s very unlikely that a young kitten will know how to drink the formula from a bowl.

What Is The Best Food For A New Kitten?

What you feed a new kitten will depend on their age. Kittens should be fed kitten formula in a bottle for the first few weeks of their life. Afterward, a dry kibble suitable for kittens is ideal.

If you are leaving food out for kittens, be sure there’s a lot of space between the food and any shelter you leave out, or the kittens and their mother will refuse it.

It is not recommended to feed a young kitten any kind of human food, even if it’s meat or something else that’s known to be healthy for cats. Proper nutrition is of the highest priority when cats are still kittens, so they don’t need any excess treats.

Can A 1-Day Old Kitten Survive Without Its Mother?

A one-day-old kitten cannot survive without its mother. The good news is that it’s extremely rare that a kitten that young would be left alone by its mother for very long, if at all. It would be extremely rare for a mother to leave a one-day-old kitten to survive on their own.

Should you happen to stumble upon a very young kitten, you can keep a watchful eye from a distance if you’re concerned about where mom is.

Will A Mother Cat Abandon Her Kittens If You Touch Them?

Moms won’t abandon their kittens unless she feels that the space they are in is immediately unsafe. As tempting as it might be to pick up newborn kittens, you should avoid doing so. Mother cats have enough maternal instincts to take care of their kittens, even when they live outdoors.

How Can You Tell If A Kitten Is Abandoned?

Two kittens outdoors walking on a dirt path.

Two kittens outdoors walking on a dirt path.

When you’re concerned about whether kittens have been abandoned, stay far away, but watch to see if mom comes back. If the kittens look to be extremely young and only a couple of weeks old or so and the mom has been away for more than four hours, it may be because something unfortunate happened to her.

Should you happen to discover that kittens have been abandoned and can confirm this, you should handle the kitten very gently and get some veterinary assistance as soon as you can.

Why Does My Cat Keep Leaving Her Newborn Kittens?

Your cat will leave her newborn kittens occasionally so that they have an opportunity to learn how to take care of themselves. Cats will prepare their litter to be independent, strong, and self-sufficient at a very early age. Your cat might also need some rest, as it’s a lot of work taking care of so many little ones.

How Do You Keep Newborn Kittens Alive?

Caring for newborn kittens takes a time commitment, as well as the ability to keep a close eye on the kittens at all times. They will need to be bottle-fed, kept warm and clean, and will likely need assistance going to the bathroom.

It’s not an easy task, so reaching out for help or advice is recommended. You can try contacting a local shelter or a veterinary office to see if any previously pregnant cats are still producing milk and can nurse the babies, or see if they have anyone who can volunteer to take care of the kittens if you cannot.

How Cold Is Too Cold For Newborn Kittens?

Temperatures that fall lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 degrees Celsius can be extremely dangerous for newborn kittens. Since kittens cannot keep themselves warm, they will need your help staying warm. Should you find a cat and kittens outdoors, consider building them a proper shelter so they can warm up when needed.

To build an adequate shelter for cats, you want something that’s fairly enclosed other than a hole for the cats to climb out of. Many people will use large plastic totes and keep the lid on. You can use either a heated blanket or a mixture of dry straw and a blanket.

Be sure you change the blanket or straw frequently, as any dampness will quickly turn that shelter into an ice box.

Lindsey Browlingdon