You are here:

Ask the Veterinarian/Orphaned kittens


I have 3-4 week old kittens (all girls, I found them in my backyard) I don't think they're eating properly and they're not putting on any weight. They drink half an ounce of mothers milk replacement at each feeding (3-4 times daily) they have teeth but they aren't getting the hang of drinking ad eating out of a dish. They sleep mostly all day and when they are active all they do is cry and I can't get them to stop. If you have a list of instructions please let me know my vets office really isn't that helpful with my questions. Thanks so much.

Bless you for taking these little innocents in! Did their mom get hit by a car? So sad...

Maybe the milk replacer was old when you bought it and it hasn't got much nutritional value left in it. Get some fresh. If you can, get some Nurturall, it's the best we have ever used.

Are you feeding them at night before you go to bed a well? That will help them make it all night.

Make sure they are warm. Cold kittens will cry a lot. Put a heat lamp way above them so that you can barely feel the heat when you hold your hand about 2 1/2 feet above the kittens. Make sure they have a lot of soft, but not shreddable bedding. Tee shirts are good for this reason and towels are really bad. The strings can wrap around their toes and feet and cut them off!
Spend time with them as well. Are they eliminating on their own are you are having to help them by stroking them?

The best way to get them to start eating is to just leave it out for about 15 mins or so. If they are only 4 weeks old, or 3 to 4 weeks old, (not sure which it is by what you wrote), they are too young to eat. Most kittens won't eat solids until they are starting into their 5th week. If they can't smell the food they are less tempted as well to eat it. Get them some really smelly tuna cat food and start them with that, slowly working into some Science Diet kitten growth in canned and then dry. It's made with superior nutrition to help them really be healthy and strong.

Kittens do cry a lot when their cruise around if they are not sleeping. It's just the way they can be. If their little tummy's are barely rounded when they are done drinking then they are getting enough. A four week old kitten should pack in about 1/2 to 3/4 of kitten baby bottle. They are really growing fast at this point.

I'm sorry that your vet office isn't being more helpful. Here is an article with all the information you might need to get them on track:

Let me know how they are doing in a week or so!  

Ask the Veterinarian

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

©2016 All rights reserved.