Orphan Puppy & Kitten Care (2023)

Orphan Puppy & Kitten Care (1)

Photo by MarVistaVet

The Nest Box

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Keep the babies together as long as they are about the same age; this will help socialize them to their own species and will help in keeping them warm. Try to assemble the following equipment.

  1. The nest boxin which the babies live should have tall sides so that they cannot climb out by mistake and become chilled. A cardboard pet carrier is perfect as it is portable, dark inside, and closable. These are inexpensive and should be available from a pet store or from your veterinarian.
  2. Place towels in the bottom of the box and cover them with a disposable diaper so the babies rest directly on the diaper. Most diapers have elastic leg holes and may have to be trimmed so they will lie flat. Expect to change the diaper several times daily. Keeping the babies clean and dry is very important and a diaper is perfect for wicking away wetness.
  3. Place a heating pad under the nest box so that only half of the nest box is warmed. This way the babies may crawl off the warm side of the box if they feel too hot. Alternatively, a water bottle filled with warm water can be buried in the blankets as a heat source as long as the babies have room to move away from it if they are too hot.

If the baby's temperature drops below 94⁰F, the heart rate drops and intestinal motion ceases. Death occurs if this is not corrected.

Initial warming when babies have gotten cold should take place over an hour or two to avoid shock.

The Diet

  1. There are several brands of orphan formula on the market. For kittens, KMR® by PetAg and Just Born® by Farnam Pet Products come in both a powder and a liquid. The powdered form seems less associated with diarrhea than the liquid plus with the powdered form, the water content can be increased in the event of dehydration. For puppies, PetAg makes a canine formula called Esbilac® plus there is a canine version of Just Born formula. Again, both powder and liquid forms are available.
  2. Mix up the powder according to the directions on the can. If you are using the liquid form, you may want to dilute it with one part water for every two parts of formula. As the babies get older, less water may be used whether you are mixing up the powder or the liquid. If diarrhea occurs at any time, you should add more water to the formula to make up for fluid lost as diarrhea.
  3. Store the can of powder in the freezer after opening. Do not mix up more than a day's worth of formula. Use a blender to mix the formula several hours ahead to allow time for the bubbles to settle.

Makeshift Formula Until Commercial Formula can be Obtained

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1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. salad oil
1 drop multi-vitamins (if you have any)
2 egg yolks

1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg yolk
1 drop multi-vitamins
3 crushed Tums (antacid)

For either one, then mix in a blender.

The Bottle

  1. Obtain a pet nurser bottle from a pet store or your veterinarian.
  2. Use 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 - some areas of the bottle can be scalding hot.

How / When To Feed

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  1. Expect to feed them everytwo to threehours 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. It is more natural to feed them right side up rather than on their backs like human infants.
  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 your veterinarian.

Tube feeding involves using a syringe and lubricated tube to introduce formula through the mouth and directly into the stomach. Your veterinarian will need to show you how to do this should it become necessary. A babywho rejects three meals in a row will need tube feeding.

Urination / Defecation

  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 loose but should not be watery.
  3. It is normal for baby kittens and puppies to have round bellies. If you think the baby might be constipated, usually taking the temperature rectally with a normal rectal thermometer provides enough extra stimulation to get things back to normal. Only the bulb of the thermometer tip needs to be inserted rectally.

Expect the baby to need stimulation for urination/defecation for the first three weeks of life.


  1. Using kitten or puppy 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 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

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Starting Solid Food

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 three ounces) at birth have a high (59%) mortality rate.

  • When the babies start biting and chewing at their bottle instead of sucking (three to fourweeks 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. Prescription recovery dietshave a very soft texture and are readily accepted but any pate style canned food should do well.Your vet's office will most likely have a recovery formula diet available.
  • Between agesfour and sixweeks, they should begin readily accepting solid food. New homes may be found for them at ageeight weeks.

A Note on Colostrum

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. Colostrum is only produced for a day or two and the baby is only able to absorb its antibodies for a day or two.

Without colostrum (if their mother did not nurse the kittens during the first two days of life) the babies have a serious immunological disadvantage. Especially great care should be taken in cleanliness and the babies can be vaccinated as early as age two weeks depending on circumstances. They may require a plasma transfusion to make up for the colostrum. There is no substitute for a real mother.

(Video) Orphaned puppy is adopted by a CAT 🐶 | Pets - Wild at Heart - BBC

See more information on raising orphan kittens.

Many foster parents have difficulty distinguishing male and female kittens at this early age. See some guidelines and (illustrated) instructions.


How do you raise a kitten and a puppy at the same time? ›

Introduce Them Slowly

The first time you introduce your kitten and puppy to each other, make sure each of them can see the other, but provide them with their own individual space. We recommend doing this by setting them up in connected rooms but having a baby gate separate them.

Can a puppy and kitten live together? ›

While introducing your puppy and kitten early in their lives is a great start to helping them get used to one another, the way you introduce them is important too! When first introducing your kitten and puppy to one another, make sure they can see one another, but each have their own personal space too.

How long will it take for my cat to adjust to a new puppy? ›

While there are some parings that work out in days, in some rare cases, it never works out. Liz Palika noted that, in her experience, the "get acquainted" process usually takes two to three weeks. Dr. Landsberg noted that sometimes it's not easy to tell by their interactions if a dog and cat are getting along or not.

Can a puppy be left alone with a cat? ›

Dogs and cats living together can be complicated. Even if your feline doesn't seem to mind your puppy's behavior, it is very important that your canine companion never chase the cat. They should not be left together unsupervised. Use baby gates to keep your dog from entering certain spaces.

Will my dog hurt my new kitten? ›

All dogs have the potential to hurt a kitten so, before allowing face-to-face introductions, you'll need to backtrack a few steps and introduce something called 'impulse control'. This means helping your dog to be calm in exciting situations, rather than reacting immediately to them.

Is it good to get a puppy and a kitten? ›

By getting both a kitten and a puppy at the same time, you can help eliminate the tough territorial instinct and introduce them to one another at a young age so they don't know a life without each other. When an older pet and a new puppy or kitten are first introduced, there can be scuffles, scratches, and fights.

What do I do if my cat hates my new puppy? ›

Regular exercise and play help your cat exert any pent-up energy and aggression that might otherwise be taken out on your pup. If your cat is prone to lashing out when they're overstimulated, move your dog to another room until playtime is over.

Can cats get jealous of a new puppy? ›

Many cats show aggression and other signs of insecurity toward new animals, and that includes dogs and puppies. Dogs can be particularly difficult, because they often move into the house and seem to simply “take over” as they explore the house, eat from the cat's bowl, and take away some of your attention.

Is my cat depressed because of new puppy? ›

Cat behaviorists explain that depression occurs when a pet experiences events beyond their control. This might be moving home, the loss of a companion, or an owner returning to work. Any stressful event that affects the cat can trigger the blues, including: Arrival of a new pet.

How do you bring a puppy home with a cat? ›

Keep the puppy on a leash during the initial encounters so that you can supervise and direct his activities until you feel comfortable that both pets will tolerate one another. Reward your puppy for being calm and quiet when near your cat. Avoid allowing your puppy to chase, harass or otherwise torment your cat.

How do you socialize a puppy with a cat? ›

Never force any interactions but just give your cat a lot of attention and positive experiences such as grooming, playing, and treats while they are in the same room as your dog/puppy. Just let the cat get used to the dog being there and vice versa.

How do I train my puppy to ignore my cat? ›

Train your dog

As soon as your dog looks away from the cat, praise him profusely and give him a treat. Repeat every time your dog ignores the cat. Your dog will learn that whenever he sees your cat, rewards are forthcoming from you if he looks away from the cat.

Where should my kitten sleep on the first night? ›

This means that the best place for a kitten to sleep is a secure spot, sheltered from draughts and warm enough is the best set up. It is a good idea to have the kitten close to you for the first few nights. Find a cosy place next to your bed and you can even choose a spot up off the floor if possible.

Can a dog take care of a kitten? ›

Dogs will make friends with a kitten because they are social animals and would rather have company than be alone. Once they have established that bond, the dog will take care of the kitten as part of its pack. Taking care of other species' young is not exclusive to dogs and cats.

Is it easier to raise a kitten or a puppy? ›

They may watch you curiously but don't tend to follow their owners around the way puppies do. This makes cats, in general, more low-maintenance than dogs. Kittens require less one-on-one attention and can usually be left alone for most of the day without any issues.

Do puppies do well with cats? ›

Most dog breeds can live calmly with a cat if they are socialized as puppies and are trained to leave the cat alone. Teaching your dog a “leave it” cue and a strong “stay” can help keep the peace. Proper introductions will also help, and it's a good idea to make sure the cat always has an escape route.

Is it easier to introduce a kitten to a dog or a puppy to a cat? ›

Introducing a new puppy is often easier with an existing dog than a cat, however, this process still needs to be handled appropriately to prevent potential harm to either dog. In this situation: Ensure both dogs are healthy and up to date with their vaccinations.

Will my cat ever accept the new dog? ›

In time, you may find that your cat and dog simply learn to tolerate one another. If you are lucky, they will become friends, perhaps even playing and snuggling together. In some cases, the cat and dog can never be safely left alone together.

How will my cat react to a puppy? ›

Puppies are very social animals, while cats are very territorial and may become suspicious of a new guest. So, it's critical to take very small steps when beginning introductions. The first step is to keep them completely separated, with their feeding and playtime essentials in their own rooms.

Can I Leave My kitten Alone at night? ›

Can I leave my kitten alone overnight? You can probably guess the answer to this one: kittens need attention at least every four to six hours, so they cannot stay alone overnight. In addition to their food, water, and litterbox needs, kittens can get themselves into trouble when left alone for too long.

How do you get a dog to accept a cat? ›

Help! My Cat and Dog Don't Get Along - How to Introduce your Cat and Dog
  1. It's All About The Smell. ...
  2. Ensure Your Cat Has Their Own Territory. ...
  3. Raise Them Together. ...
  4. Plan The First Time They Meet Carefully. ...
  5. Make Sure Your Cat Is Relaxed. ...
  6. Show Equal Amounts Of Fuss To Both Pets. ...
  7. Separate Them After Their First Meeting.
25 Nov 2019

How do I get my cat and dog to be friends? ›

Tips on how to make a dog and cat become friends
  1. 1)Obedience training. When there is a problem between cats and dogs, it is usually caused by the dogs. ...
  2. 2)Allow interaction only under your supervision. ...
  3. 3)'Safe spot' for cat. ...
  4. 4)Swap scents. ...
  5. 5)Desensitization. ...
  6. 6)Let your cat go. ...
  7. 7)Keep the situation positive. ...
  8. 8)Go slow.
18 Jul 2017

Can you train a dog to not hurt cats? ›

Introduce cat and ask for alternative

If he does not pay attention to your command but lunges toward the cat, pull the dog away from the cat and repeat the 'sit' command. Repeat this until you are far enough away from the cat that your dog obeys your sit command and ignores the cat, then give a reward.

How long will my cat hiss at new puppy? ›

If the cat is growling, hissing or attempting to scratch, it means she is currently uncomfortable. That doesn't necessarily mean that she won't accept the dog; it might just take a little more time. Keep in mind that a new interaction or relationship may not succeed in the first few minutes or even the first few days.

How do I get my cat to accept a new dog? ›

How to introduce a dog and cat
  1. Getting started. Make sure the cat has access to a dog-free sanctuary at all times. ...
  2. Keep the pets separate at first. ...
  3. Feed them on opposite sides of a closed door. ...
  4. Teach basic commands. ...
  5. Begin face-to-face meetings. ...
  6. Repeat sessions daily. ...
  7. Allow pets loose together. ...
  8. Proceed with caution.

How do cats adjust to a puppy? ›

Give them both a chance to accept each other's scent, this can go a long way into them adjusting to their housemate. Your cat will get used to this change if you give them a toy that has been near the puppy. Leave a blanket or dog bed with the puppy's scent on it in a common area.

Why is my cat stressed from my new puppy? ›

Since dogs and cats are completely different specifies, they need time to figure out how to peacefully live with one another. Cats, in particular, can be extremely territorial. Bringing a new puppy into the house is a stressful experience for most cats. Your cat may act uncharacteristically out of fear and jealousy.

How long until my cat accepts my dog? ›

While some cats and dogs take to each other right way, it will usually take a few weeks to a few months for a cat to get used to a dog. Of course, the personalities of both pets have a large impact on how long it will take. Remember, you're not necessarily looking for the pets to become BFFs.

How do I know if my cat likes my puppy? ›

Katy" on Washington DC's NewsChannel 8, to figure out how you can tell if your pets are getting along.
  1. Your pets enjoy playing together.
  2. They like to snuggle up close to one another and fall asleep.
  3. One pet doesn't want to leave the other one behind.
  4. Your cats don't have any issues sharing a litter box.
5 Jul 2019

How long will my cat hide after getting a dog? ›

Some cats may take weeks or even months before they are fully adjusted to another animal living in their space. After a few days of your cat bring comfortable with leashed introductions, you can take your dog off of its leash.

How do I get my grumpy cat to like my puppy? ›

Here are some of the steps that can help a cranky cat adapt to a new dog.
  1. Pick the Right Dog. Not every dog will be able to safely live with cats. ...
  2. Establish Separate Spaces. ...
  3. Establish a Pecking Order That Favors the Weaker Pet. ...
  4. Share Your Affection. ...
  5. Be Cautious, but Project Calm Confidence. ...
  6. Celebrate Small Successes.
13 Mar 2013


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