How Long Can Newborn Kittens Survive Without Their Mother?

You may have found a kitten alone and wondered whether you should adopt them.

Well, that’s not a bad option; however, you need to realize that the chances of the kitten surviving are minimal.

how long can newborn kittens survive without their mother

This low mortality rate happens because a lack of maternal care can easily lead to the kitten’s death.

Also, if the mother cat dies during birth, you must ensure the kittens are in good hands.

You need to take care of them well to ensure they don’t lack the necessities they would have gotten from their mother.

A kitten cannot survive for more than 12hours without the mother’s milk.

That’s why you need to look for an alternative, like kitten replacement milk, to keep the kitten alive.

The kitten can live longer with proper care!

Why Do Mother Cats Abandon their Kittens?

Firstly, mother cats can leave behind kittens if they die shortly after giving birth.

Secondly, whenever a mother cat senses that one of her kittens is afflicted by a disorder or bacterial illness, she abandons the kitten so it will not infect its siblings. 

In such situations, the mother cat abandons the sick kitten and cares for the remaining healthy kittens.

As sad as it sounds, consider that cats do everything based on their inherent survival instincts.

Lastly, mother cats abandon their kittens when they get lost and cannot find them anywhere.

Why Can’t A Newborn Kitten Survive Without Their Mother?

Lack Of Mother’s Milk

A mother cat’s milk contains enough nutrients required by the kitten to grow up well. However, when a kitten is born and doesn’t have a caregiver, it reduces its chances of survival.

A newborn kitten can’t last more than a few hours without milk. They will live for 12 hours and then perish!

Three-week-old kittens can survive for at least 2-3 days without maternal or kitten replacement milk.

It is only until a kitten reaches 6weeks that it can survive for long without a mother cat.

What to do?

It is recommended that a cat should nurse its kittens for at least six weeks. Once that’s over, the kittens can now survive effortlessly.

However, if you find a newly born stray kitten, you may opt to feed the cat with kitten replacement milk.

This milk helps the kitten survive more because of its nutrients.

However, you will need to provide the cat with enough necessities that equate to the maternal love they would have gotten from the mother cat.

It would help if you fed the kitten with bottle-fed milk formula every 2-3hours. Do this until the time the kitten can entirely eat from a bowl.

With the transition, you can now provide softened cat food.

Cat owners can give their kitten’s canned kitten food or dry food soaked in water to the cat 4-5weeks after birth.

Frequently monitor the kitten to see if it is adjusting well, and it does not skip some days without eating healthy kitten food.

Lack Of Certain Nutrients

A kitten is as fragile as a human baby.

Just like a mother’s milk contains nutrients required for a baby’s growth, mother cat’s milk also contains essential nutrients that help maintain the cat’s immune system.

Thus, when a kitten lacks nutrients, it can’t survive for long or may become sickly throughout its life.

What to do?

You need to feed the kitten with the kitten replacement milk and hold the kitten in the right way while providing it.

Also, ensure to keep the kitten warm and in a suitable environment.

Feed the kitten every 2-3hours to ensure it stays strong.

Also, as time goes by, visit a veterinary to deworm and vaccinate the kitten before six weeks are over.

Veterinary visits are essential because, without a mother, kittens don’t get the nutrients from maternal milk that is important for their growth.

Lack Of Affection And Care

Mother cats are generally protective of their kittens, and External interferences can make kittens feel unsafe. 

Without a mother, a kitten can feel lonely and develop the urge to be taken care of by a human.

Lack of care and attention causes kittens to get stressed out and depressed, leading to death.

What to do?

In the case that you have found a kitten or the mother has abandoned the kitten or neglected it, you can start showing it affection in the best way possible.

Also, ensure you don’t leave it alone for long and provide food regularly. Constant monitoring helps the kitten to remain strong for longer.

After feeding the kittens, ensure they get enough sleep which is essential for their growth.

Lack Of Training On Survival

Kittens learn from their mother how to live, what to prey on, and how to use their claws.

Thus, without such training, a kitten may feel unfit to live in the world and won’t even know how to defend themselves.

As a cat owner, you need to train the abandoned kitten how to maintain her claws and socialize with other cats to ensure they are comfortable and don’t hurt anyone with their actions.

What to do?

Do the best research to ensure you learn all the tips and tactics.

Moreover, to know the best way to train your kitten, you need to consult the vet.

You can also read knowledgeable facts about cats and know how best to make them adapt to the environment.

This research will help raise the kitten’s chances of survival.

It would help if you also considered that a kitten should urinate and defecate after each feeding. If the kitten doesn’t, you need to consult a vet.

You can also do this by stimulating the hind end gently using a warm washcloth. Ensure you do it using a circular motion.

Lack Of Warmth

Suppose a kitten is alone and feels cold; the chances of it being on the verge of death or dying are high.

Thus, if you find a kitten with no sign of the mother around, you must take the necessary measures to ensure its survival.

Also, the kitten may have sustained some wounds that can quickly increase their chances of infections and diseases.

However, before concluding that a kitten is alone, check whether where they are staying is clean and if the kitten looks healthy.

It might be that the mother has gone out for a few minutes.

What to do?

Take a box and place plenty of bedding in it; this will help it get as much heat as possible and ensure it stays safe.

You should also monitor to see the kitten’s age and provide the right food or milk for it.

It might be hard for kittens to know how to feed themselves at such a tender age.

Also, immediately you find such a kitten, go and see a vet to give you the right advice, and check the kitten’s health.

Also, check the kitten for any injuries or wounds.


Always remember that when you come across a kitten, check whether the mother is nearby.

If you see that no one is coming for it, place it in a box with bedding and ensure it is warm.

Chances are the kitten may be hungry; you can provide kitten replacement milk to help make it more potent in the absence of the mother’s milk.

It would be best if you took the kitten to the veterinary to see whether it has any complications or wounds.

When you take it home, keep the kitten away from other larger pets and protect it to prevent it from stress, fear, or anxiety.