ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tips for Fostering Kittens

Updated on May 14, 2009

First of all, spaying and neutering should be done to prevent kittens.

If you have a surprise litter, are fostering kittens, or come across kittens in need of fostering, this hub will provide you with helpful links, tips, product ideas, and tricks.

4-week old feral kitten Rori being held for the first time, with one of her foster moms
4-week old feral kitten Rori being held for the first time, with one of her foster moms
6-week old Knut being held for the first time
6-week old Knut being held for the first time

Catching feral kittens

Many fosters start out as kittens of feral (wild) cats or previously abandoned cats. Unfortunately, many abandoned cats are dumped because they became pregnant. If this is the case, try to lure the kittens or the (tame) mother cat to you and catch the kittens this way. Catching the mother will bring the kittens closer to you, and vice versa. If you catch one first, put it in a closed carrier and keep it outside so that its cries will call the others to you.

If the kittens won't come, put out a live trap with tuna or the smelliest cat food you can find. Live traps will catch the cats without harming them, containing them so you can bring them inside. Many feral groups and animal control groups use the Havahart trap.

Rori eating from a ferret bowl on a human baby lap pad
Rori eating from a ferret bowl on a human baby lap pad

Setting up an inside home

Dog crates and cat playpens (see links at the end of the hub) make excellent inside homes for kittens. They are small enough to provide safety, but large enough for the kittens to move around. The space should be big enough to allow food and water containers at one end and litter box space at the other. The kittens will want to sleep in their litter box, and may poop in the food, but at least the two designated areas should be distinct.

Cover the bottom of the area with puppy training pads (disposable) or human baby lap pads (washable). Provide a small, shallow dish or lid of dry food for weaned or kittens learning how to eat kibble. Provide a shallow dish of water as well. Monitor the water closely and replace it when the kittens tip it over.

Provide a small litter box with non-clumping litter. Clumping litter can get stuck in kittens' paw pads or digested, causing medical issues. Ferret or rabbit litter pans are excellent choices, since they have a cut-out area that the kittens can walk into rather than jumping. Small plastic boxes or personal-sized pizza boxes work as well. Keep the litter box scooped and clean.

Very young kittens need a heat source. It should be small enough so they can move away from it if they get too warm. Some sources, like the SnuggleKitty listed in the links, have a heartbeat for comfort as well.


Weaned kittens or those close to weaning can be offered canned, pouch or dry food. Commercial kitten food is small-sized for little mouths and softer than adult food. This hub has guidelines for choosing quality food.

Bottle-feeding kittens is actually easy to do. Look in the small animal or puppy section at the pet store for small bottles, then cut the very end of the nipple. KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) can be bought at pet stores as well. There is a weaning formula called 2nd Step for older bottle-feeders and for those learning to lap from a shallow bowl. KMR and 2nd Step come in both premade and powder forms and have clear instructions on the package.

After bottle-feeding, kittens need to be burped. Tap them gently on their backs until they burp. Then take a warm washcloth and rub their bottoms to "potty" them. This needs to be done, because they are too little to pee and poop on their own.

Knut after his first bath
Knut after his first bath
Spooky in his foster mom's lap drying after his first bath
Spooky in his foster mom's lap drying after his first bath

Flea Control and Bath Time

Kittens younger than 8 weeks old should never be bathed with hot water or submerged in water. They should also never have commercial flea treatments. Check cat shampoos to see if they are approved for kittens or use Dawn dishwashing liquid (blue kind).

Bathing and flea treatment can be done at the same time for kittens. First, set up the bath area, usually the sink. Place a small measuring cup and a towel on the counter, along with Dawn dishwashing liquid (the blue kind, not the citrus). Fill up the sink part-way with warm (not hot) water.

Bring the kitten in and shut the door, preventing escape. Hold the kitten over the sink with one hand and pour warm water over it with the measuring cup. Put the measuring cup down and place a tiny amount of Dawn on the back and underside of the kitten, massaging in like shampoo. Do not put shampoo on the kitten's face, ears, or eyes.

Rinse the kitten by pouring water from the measuring cup. Change water when needed and repeat until all suds are gone. Wrap the kitten in the towel and gently rub it dry. DO NOT USE A HAIR DRYER, as this will overheat the kitten.

Make sure the kitten stays in a warm place as it dries from its bath. Many like to curl up on a blanket in a lap while they're drying.

Common Kitten Ailments

Bulging stomachs are a sign of roundworms, a very common kitten problem. Kittens can be dewormed safely, and products for this are available at the pet store. Be sure the product you choose is for roundworms and is approved for kittens.

Sneezing and goopy eyes are common signs of "kitty colds", otherwise known as upper respiratory infection (URI). Medicine is available from veterinarians for this. Kittens with URIs should be kept away from well kittens and cats, as this is contagious.

Young kittens should be kept away from adult cats until the little ones are tested for FIV, FELV, and other diseases. Kitten-proofing a room and/or keeping them in a crate is the best way to do this.

Socializing a Kitten

Socializing is as important to a kitten's growth as feeding or keeping it healthy. Kittens need a lot of daily contact. If the kittens have tested negative for common diseases, they can be around adult cats who will teach them how to behave. They should be socialized to humans as much as possible, too. Hold them while you are bottle-feeding them, pet them while they eat, play with them, talk to them, and have a radio going in their room if they are separated from normal house-life.

Play with them and allow them to play with others. Rough-and-tumble games, supervised play with toys, and chase games/toys are excellent. Discourage biting hands or feet or clawing by squirting with a spray bottle or rattling a jar of coins. Do not spank a kitten or cat, because this will make them afraid of humans. If severe behavior modification is necessary, shut the kitten in another room without playmates for about 10 minutes. This gives them time to calm down, and they will usually go to sleep before their "time-out" is up.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)