Ideally, puppies and kittens should stay with their mother and littermates until they are at least eight weeks of age. This gives them the time needed to learn valuable lessons about how to be a well-socialized member of a group.
Unfortunately, circumstances do not always cooperate. Puppies and kittens may be orphaned or otherwise separated from their mothers at a very young age. In some cases, individuals can be introduced into another litter, and assuming that their new mother accepts them, they can continue almost as if nothing happened. It is more common, however, for people to have to intervene.
Bottle raising puppies and kittens is not difficult, but it does take dedication and a lot of time. Orphaned youngsters generally need to be fed by bottle until they are about four weeks old. To do this properly, purchase several kitten or puppy nursing bottles as well as puppy or kitten milk replacer and plan to feed them every two to three hours from the time you wake until you go to sleep. If they eat this frequently during the day, overnight feedings should not be necessary.
Young puppies and kittens also need stimulation in order to urinate and defecate. Do this after each feeding by wiping their urogenital region and anus several times with a warm washcloth. Then use the washcloth clean them up well.
Once they begin chewing on the nipple of the bottle (usually around 3-4 weeks of age), you can start offering pâté-style kitten food mixed with a little milk replacer. Once they are eating well and drinking water from a bowl, you can discontinue bottle feeding. Keep track of the animal’s weight to make sure they are thriving. Any weight loss should immediately be reported to your veterinarian.