If you find a nest of tiny kittens, obviously needing to nurse, to not pick them up unless YOU are prepared to bottle feed them. They have a better chance of survival with the mother. Most rescues will not take feral cats with babies, or babies under 8 weeks of age. Step 1 is making calls and finding a rescue who will take them. If none can be found and you are determined to rescue them, note where they are located and proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Locate a trapper or find a live trap. If you can trap the mother cat, THEN pick up the babies and get the family into a safe place. If the mom if feral and you had to trap her, this would mean a cage with a litter box, food and water and a bed. Do not proceed to step 2 unless you are willing to let mom raise her babies or have found a rescue willing to take them.
Tiny kittens who are still nursing need to be kept warm! They cannot maintain their own body temperature. A bottle or jar filled with hot water and wrapped in a towel will work, or a hot water bottle or heating pad on the lowest setting. Be sure to separate the space between the heat source and the kittens with towels or the baby can overheat. Kittens need kitten milk replacer, not cow’s milk. If you cannot locate kitten milk, use goat milk until formula is obtained. Feeding can be done with a syringe or a bottle made for kittens. Even an eye dropper will work. Newborns need to be fed every three hours until they are about 10 days old. They can usually sleep through the night between 10 days and two weeks. Formula needs to be warm! Kittens under 3 weeks old need to be manually stimulated to potty, so use a warm cotton ball, tissue or wash cloth and gently massage the genital area until urine or feces are produced.
Any kitten found wandering, injured or distressed needs to be taken in! If you cannot afford to take the kitten to a vet, please call rescues until you find one willing to help with the cost. Do not leave them to suffer and die miserably. Wholly Cats has never said ‘no’ to a bottle baby, and many groups will post a plea for help on social media and will network until a rescue can be found.
It can be difficult to determine the age of a kitten, since they vary in size. Any kitten with eyes still not open is less than 10 days. If the umbilical cord is still attached, it’s probably less than 5 days days old. These babies are definitely going to need formula. Kittens keep blue eyes up to about 8 weeks of age, but some kittens, like Siamese mix, will keep the blue eyes. Kittens will begin to eat canned food, or even dry kitten food, at about 4 weeks when they don’t have a mother.