Is The Mother Present
The first question you need to consider when caring for a newborn kitten is whether the mother is present. If she is, then there is less that you will need to do. Most cats know instinctively how to raise their young and will do all the necessary actions at all the right stages in the kittens life. It is your job to simply make sure they are warm, safe and protected.
But if you have found a newborn kitten that doesnt seem to have a mother, you will need to take on all her duties. If this is a stray kitten, do make sure the mother is not coming back before taking the kitten in. If you are not careful, you could separate the mother from her young.
Provide Newborn Kittens With A Clean Warm And Dry Environment
Firstly, you will need to provide your kittens with a suitable, enclosed bedding area to keep them safe. A queening box or a large cat carrier work well. Kittens of this age are incredibly vulnerable so you will need to keep them away from other animals.
Young kittens are susceptible to the cold so maintaining a constant temperature is essential. The nest temperature should be between 85 to 90 °F for the first 2 weeks of life. Then reduced to 27°C at 2 weeks. When your kittens reach 4-weeks old, the temperature can be reduced again to 22°C. A heat source can be provided for kittens by using a covered hot water bottle, heat pad, or heat lamp. The temperature can be maintained by providing plenty of bedding. However, you should refrain from using too many blankets as young kittens can get tangled in them. A soft pet bed is a safer choice.
Check the temperature in the nest regularly to make sure it doesnt get too hot. You can use a reliable thermometer for this. You will also need to make sure the kittens can escape from the heat if they need to by providing a cooler and a warmer end of the nest.
Adopting Out The Kittens
The final step. Successful socialization is the most important part of the process, so make sure you teach them to trust and like humans as early as you are able! Please spay and neuter them before you adopt them out , they will not only be more attractive to adopters, but it will also help prevent this cycle from happening all over again. Once they are fixed, advertise liberally! Use social networking sites, tells friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances, and get them adopted out as early as you can! The older the kittens get, the harder it will be to find them homes.
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Keeping You And The Kitten Safe
Let Your Cat Set The Pace
Just as human mothers have strong maternal instincts, so do feline mothers. While formula is useful and convenient, nothing is better for kittens than their mothers milk, which provides all the essential nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong. However, some mothers are unable to produce enough milk, and others even neglect their newborns. If thats the case, youll want to bottle-feed your kittens and help them eliminate waste and urine every three hours.
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Factors To Consider When Taking Care Of Newborn Kittens Without The Mother
When taking care of a newborn kittens without the mother, there are a number of things you need to do
What Should I Track In A Logbook
Maintaining a logbook about the orphaned kittens does not need to be complicated. The reason for the logbook is to simply keep track of how the kittens are doing so you can identify if there are any potential concerns with their development.
Tracking their weights, milestones, and routines are key, so be sure to record details of when their eyes open, when their teeth begin to erupt, their food intake, and stool consistency.
TIP: Individual kittens must be identified in some way, so consider colored collars or nail polish on a few front toenails.
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How Much Should A Newborn Kitten Weigh
Newborn kittens usually weigh about 3.5 ounces, depending on their breed and the litters size. A healthy kitten should gain at least 10 grams per day. If you dont see growth in their body size, this is often a sign of illness.
Its essential to track and write down your kittens weight and how much they’re eating every day. You can use a gram scale for accuracy in weighing animals this small. If your kitten isnt eating or growing as expected, contact your veterinarian right away.
How Do I Know If My Kitten Is Sick
Keep a close eye on your kittens, and if anything seems out of the ordinary, its always worth asking your vet for advice. Newborn kittens are defenseless and fragile. As their tiny bodies grow and mature, theyre also working on building a strong immune system to fight off infections. Until theyre around 12 weeks of age, a kitten wont have a fully functioning immune system. They can pick up a few different illnesses during this time. The main things to watch out for with newborn kittens are the following.
Newborn kittens that have been abandoned should be taken to the vet for an assessment. After this, either speak to your vet if you think that the kittens have picked up an illness, or schedule another wellness check at around 9 weeks, when their first set of vaccinations are due. Kittens should have a booster vaccination at 12 weeks old, and its at this point that breeders will often allow them to go to their new homes.
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What To Feed A Neonatal Kitten
Stick to kitten formula, such as kitten milk replacer , which can be purchased at most pet supply stores.If you find yourself with a kitten and pet stores are closed, this emergency kitten formula can be made at home. Only use it in emergencies.
- 8 oz. can evaporated milk
- 1 beaten egg yolk
- Mix all ingredients well and strain. Warm before serving. Keep refrigerated.From Feline Neonatal Care DVD from the Loudoun SPCA.
Should you feed newborn kittens goat milk?
Never feed kittens cows or goats milkthis causes diarrhea.
10 days or younger every two hours around the clock
11 days to 2½ weeks every three to four hours
2½ to 4 weeks every five to six hours
4 weeks and older two to three times a day. Weaning occurs around this age.
Mix formula with wet food so kittens can begin to lap it up, or put the mixture in a bottle. Then mix with dry food and begin providing water. If you are having trouble getting a kitten to latch onto the bottle, try pulling on the nipple when they start to suck, this will encourage her to suck harder and latch on.
You can also try moving the nipple back and forth in the kittens mouth. If your kitten is too ill to suck on a bottle, you may have to resort to other methods like tube feeding. In this case, consult a veterinarian.
Is Evaporated Milk Okay For Kittens
Evaporated milk is cow milk that has a lot of water removed from it. It is therefore creamier and thicker than ordinary milk. It is however not good for kittens as it may make them have stomach upsets. Most cats are intolerant to lactose present in cow milk.
When cats consume cow milk they develop diarrhoea and vomiting. You should therefore not feed evaporated milk to kittens as it can make them have stomach upsets.
In cases of emergency, you can make kitten formula using evaporated milk and 1 egg as described above. However, we do not recommend using this formula for more than 24hrs unless it is really necessary.
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Second Determining The Age Of The Kittens
Once your kittens are inside in a warm, dry place, try to determine how old they are. Depending on their age, kittens have different needs. There are a few things to look for which may help you:
- Kittens eyes are closed the first week. They begin to open them from about a week to ten days, and somewhere between two to three weeks, their eyes should be completely open.
- A kittens first teeth begin to erupt at around 3 weeks, with the first canines appearing at 3-4 weeks. All 26 primary teeth have usually appeared by 6-7 weeks old.
However, if you are not sure about how old your kittens are, ask your vet. In any case, it is very important that you take them as soon as possible to the vet who can assess their overall health and recommend treatment if needed.
Low Blood Sugar In Kittens
If kittens are not receiving enough food, they can develop low blood sugar. This usually manifests as severe depression, muscle twitching, and convulsions. If you see any of these symptoms in your kittens, you will need to see a vet immediately. Kittens with low blood sugar have no energy reserves so will deteriorate very quickly, Sugary solutions placed on the tongue may help in an emergency, but the underlying problems need to be corrected for the kitten to survive.
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Should I Take In An Abandoned Kitten
Access the situation to determine if the kittens are truly orphaned before removing them from the street
If you come across a kitten or 2 or 4 on the street, do not assume the kitten are orphaned. It is common for the mother to leave the kittens alone as she scavenges for food or when she is in the process of moving them to a new place.
Access the situation to determine if they are truly orphaned. To do this, give the kittens distance and observe.
Stand as far away from the kittens as possible . The mother will not approach the kittens if she senses the presence of humans.
You may need to leave before the mother cat comes back. Evaluate if the kittens are in immediate danger. Are the kittens in an area with a lot of traffic? Is it raining or snowing? Are there dogs or wild animals that might harm the kittens? Are there kids in the neighborhood who could harm the kittens?
Rescue the kittens only if they are in immediate danger. If not, note that the mother may take several hours before she returns. Watch out for the kittens for as long as you can at a safe distance before removing them.
What Are Some Special Handling Techniques To Keep Them Healthy And Safe
In the first four weeks of their life, minimize the number of people who handle the kitten. During that time, they have not yet built up their immune systems, and they are prone to illnesses and infections. Be sure to wash your hands before and after each time you handle them.
Avoid allowing the kitten to interact with other animals even other cats. You never know how another animal will treat a small kitten, and neonatal cats are fragile in this stage of life.
If you have more than one kitten from the same litter, you can definitely keep them in the same box. They can help keep each other warm. If they are from different litters, you can still keep them in the same box, unless they are radically different ages or sizes. Also, dont mix sick and healthy kittens.
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How Do I Feed Orphaned Kittens
Most kittens will suckle on small pet nursing bottles, also known as pet nursers. When bottle fed, kittens will nurse until they are full and then reject the bottle.
Be sure the opening in the nipple restricts the outflow of fluid to one drop at a time in order to avoid a flow rate that is too rapid for the kitten. When the flow rate is too rapid, it can lead to aspiration, pneumonia, and/or death.
When feeding, hold the kitten in a horizontal, head-neutral position. If the kitten is too weak to suckle, your veterinarian can show you alternative feeding methods and assist in tube feeding if needed.
TIP: Handling kittens during feeding contributes to critical socialization.
Try To Verify The Age Of The Kittens
This is important because you dont want to take a nursing kitten away from their mom or leave a kitten with their feral mom too long if you want to socialize them.
- Under one week: Eyes shut, ears flat to head, skin looks pinkish. Part of umbilical cord may still be attached.
- 1 week-10 days: Eyes beginning to open, ears still flat. A kitten this age is smaller than your hand.
- 3 weeks: Eyes are fully open, ears are erect, and teeth are visible. Kittens this age are just starting to walk and will be very wobbly.
- 4-5 weeks: Eyes have changed from blue to another color and/or kittens have begun to pounce, leap, and are more mobile. Kittens this age will begin to eat gruel or canned food.
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Touching A Newborn Kitten In Distress
The only other reason to touch a kitten is when theyre considered as being in distress. If a kitten is listless, coughing and sneezing, feels cool to the touch or is bleeding, this is considered as being in distress. That being said, if you feel that something is wrong, you can trust your gut and check on your kittens.
The reason why you should limit touching the newborns is that the mother cat may be protective of their kittens. This means you may be hissed at, biffed or scratched if the mother feels there is a danger. As well as this, some mother cats may move their brood to a more remote area, which can make it harder for you to keep an eye on your cat and kittens.
This may also mean they move away from an area that you have set up specifically to keep everyone safe and happy. The environment your kittens live in is one of the most essential aspects of ensuring their wellbeing, and we discuss how to create the best environment for your kittens in further detail, below.
Touching A Newborn Kitten That Isnt Suckling
As mentioned above, there are very few reasons to touch a kitten. The first reason to touch a kitten that has just been birthed by the mother cat is if they arent eating/suckling from mom. In this case, youll need to start manually feeding them we give full instructions as to how to do this, below.
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How Do You Take Care Of A Newborn Kitten Without A Mother
Caring for orphaned kittens is a 24 hour/ 7 days a week job. For the first few weeks, you’ll need to bottle feed the kittens every few hours using a kitten milk replacer. This comes in liquid or powder form and is an absolute essential. Never use cows milk bought from the supermarket – it does not contain the right nutrients. Plus, most cats and kittens are lactose intolerant.
How To Burp A Kitten
Similar to their human counterparts, baby cats can be burped by placing them upright against your shoulder. If theyre a little too small to hold comfortable against your shoulder, then place them in the palm of your hand. Once theyre in position, give them gentle pats against the back until they burp.
Remember that keeping their food tilted slightly while feeding should reduce the amount of air they drink down with their formula. This will help to keep them more comfortable and safe, while getting the right amount of food before they feel full.
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