Finishing Up The Routine
When you have finished feeding, play with the kitten for a while to encourage movement: this will assist with burping, removing gas that may have entered the stomach.
It makes sense to carry out other aspects of kitten care at this time. This includes wiping under their tails with a moist cotton ball or washcloth to encourage urination and defecation . As urine and feces are passed, be sure to clean it all up thoroughly.
Remember to thoroughly clean all utensils including bottles and nipples: cleanliness around young kittens is very important as their undeveloped immune systems leave them very vulnerable at this time of life.
Your Cats Dietary Needs Evolve Over Time
As your cat moves through kittenhood, early adulthood, and beyond, his nutritional needs will change. Meeting those requirements at every phase of life sets the stage for good health.
Your first stop when choosing the right food for your cat? The nutritional adequacy statement.
Usually located on the back of the bag or can, this statement indicates whether or not the food is nutritionally complete and balanced for its intended life stage. The label will read, for example, formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO cat food nutrient profiles for all life stages.
Foods that arent nutritionally complete and balanced will usually be labeled for supplemental feeding only. These foods dont contain the appropriate balance of macronutrients and micronutrients and shouldnt be your cats sole source of nutrition.
While youre looking at the label, check out the feeding instructions as well. For the average house cat, the appropriate feeding instructions are usually already placed on the packaging of the cat food.
The nutritional guidelines on the package will point you in the right direction, though you may need to make some modifications to fit your cats exact needs.
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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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.
What Are Some Best Practices For Proper Kitten Hygiene
Orphaned kittens require you to pay strict attention to their hygiene for optimal health and development. Follow these best practices for proper kitten hygiene:
- bottles and nipples should be cleaned and then boiled in water to sterilize them between uses.
- never prepare more milk replacer than can be used within 24 hours and always keep it refrigerated.
- discard formula after 1 hour if left at room temperature.
- once or twice each week, gently wash the kittens with a moist cloth.
|Contributors: Krista Williams, BSc, DVM Robin Downing, DVM, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CRPP
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What Makes A Good Nest For The Kittens
The easiest way to provide a clean, safe and warm nest is to take a cardboard box, line it with Vetbed, use either hot water bottles or a heating pad for warmth, and placing it away from draughts. Vetbed can be easily cleaned, is warm and comfortable. If this is not available terry nappies or old towels can be used. Some people use plastic plant propagators as incubators however, care should be taken to ensure the temperature within them is adequate.
Feral Mom Returns Do Not Fear
Leave the family outside, and provide food, water, and shelter. The mother will likely move the kittens, do not worry. If she knows this is a safe place with a stable food source, shell return with them. If you are able to commit, the kittens should be taken away from their mom when theyre able to eat on their own . When you bring them inside, handle them often to get them used to human socialization. The kittens should be fixed and adopted out around 8-10 weeks of age. If you cannot foster and socialize the kittens, leave the kittens outside! Dont socialize a kitten that you cannot place they will learn survival skills from their mother that will give them their best chance at outdoor survival as a feral cat.
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How Much To Bottle Feed A Kitten
Newborn kittens should be fed every 2 to 3 hours. Kittens who are 2 to 3 weeks in age need to eat every 4 to 6 hours. See how much to feed your kitten for every age with this feeding chart. Avoid overfeeding, which can cause digestive problems.
When your kitten is about 4 weeks old you can begin offering a small bit of formula on a spoon, slowly mixing in a bit of canned food to start the weaning process. Until kittens are eating solid food on their own, you may need to continue bottle-feeding several times a day to keep them healthy. During and after weaning, offer a shallow bowl of fresh water at all times.
When Should The Kittens Be Weaned Onto Solid Food
Weaning should begin at three to four weeks of age. Initially, the kittens should be offered milk replacer diluted 1:1 with water, in a flat shallow dish. At three weeks introduce either moistened dry growth diet or tinned growth diet mixed with a small amount of milk solution. Again holding the kitten, use a very small spoon and introduce the semisolid food to the kitten, using the spoon tip only. Gradually lower the spoon to encourage and tempt the kitten to eat from a shallow dish. Only try a few very small mouthfuls at first until the kitten gets established on its own. This is continued until the kittens are taking just solid food. They can be fed either wet or dry diets, but it is best to feed only diets designed especially for kittens. Dog food and human baby foods should not be fed since they are deficient in nutrients essential for cats.
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Week One Feeding Schedule
A kitten typically weighs about 3 to 3.7 oz. at birth but will gain weight rapidly from nursing. For the first several weeks of life, a newborn kitten will depend entirely on its mother to provide it with food. Its eyes and ears are sealed shut when it’s born, so it will rely on the pheromones its mother gives off to find milk and warmth. Most kittens do just fine without human intervention, but if a kitten needs to be bottle-fed, either because the mother cat is absent, ill, or rejects the kitten, you’ll want to weigh the kitten regularly to make sure its weight reflects a healthy and normal growth rate of a kitten.
A kitten will nurse for about 45 minutes at a time every 2 to 3 hours for the first week of life. The rest of the time will be spent sleeping. Kittens that are bottle-fed should consume about a tablespoon, or 15 ml, of special kitten formula at each feeding. This is very time consuming for someone who is bottle-feeding a newborn kitten, so if at all possible, you will want to try to keep the kitten with its mother or a surrogate lactating cat who can nurse it.
How Much Should You Feed Your 4
At this stage, kittens still need about twice as many calories per pound than adult cats. Refer to the feeding guidelines on your kittens food to determine how much to give him per pound of bodyweight.
Kittens in this age group need around 60-65 calories per pound of body weight per day. For example, a 5-pound kitten should consume about 325 calories per day.
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Spay Or Neuter And Adoption
Eight-week-old healthy kittens are fully weaned and should soon be ready to be spayed or neutered and to find their new forever homes. It is much easier to find homes for eight-week old kittens than it is if you wait longer, so start setting a plan early on. Sharing photos of the kittens with friends and family as they grow, and telling everyone you know that youll be looking for homes for the kittens is a great way to find homes. For more advice on finding homes for the kittens, see this guide on finding homes for homeless pets.
It is also important to ensure that all the kittens are spayed or neutered, so they dont accidentally add to the thousands of unplanned litters of kittens that enter shelters each year. Find a low-cost spay/neuter clinic near you.
While caring for orphaned kittens is a lot of work, its also a lot of fun. The most rewarding part is watching your charges grow up and go into new homes. And the best part is that you can feel good knowing that you helped keep kittens the most at-risk animals to enter shelters safe and sound.
Pick The Right Supplies
For small babies, I recommend a 3cc oral syringe You can find these online for less than ten cents a piece. In a pinch, ask your local veterinarian or animal shelter for a few 3cc syringes they will definitely have some on hand.
Ideally, you will use the 3cc syringe in combination with a Miracle Nipple. The Miracle Nipple is a very helpful tool that fits on a bottle or on a syringe. The nipple comes in both small and large sizes, and is perfect for helping tiny kittens get a good latch. If no Miracle Nipple is available, it may be challenging to get a kitten to latch, and you may want to opt for a standard bottle.
You will also need to purchase kitten formula. Do not attempt to feed a kitten cow’s milk or other dairy products, dairy alternatives, or human baby formula, as this can be dangerous or fatal for the kitten. Kitten formula can be purchased at most pet supply stores, or can be found in rural areas at feed stores. You can also buy it online by visiting the links on my supplies page.
Tip: Be sure to pick up at least a dozen syringes, as you don’t want to use them over and over again, even if you’re sanitizing them. Used syringes can operate less smoothly, making it harder and more dangerous to feed the kitten.
A neonatal kitten with a 1cc syringe
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How Much And How Often Should I Feed Orphaned Kittens
Orphaned kittens should be fed on a strict schedule, preferably every 2-4 hours. Kittens up to two weeks old can generally consume their daily intake in 4-5 meals per day. Small breed kittens should be limited to 10-15mL per feeding during the first week of life in order to prevent diarrhea.
Commercial milk replacers are labeled to help you calculate the total volume to be fed per day. To calculate the amount for each feeding:
- dilute the total daily volume of milk replacer to a final volume of about 180mL/kg of kitten body weight, and
- divide that total into the desired number of meals per day.
It is recommended that you warm kitten milk replacer to approximately 100°F before feeding, but be careful not to overheat it. Cold formula, overly rapid feeding rates, and overfeeding can lead to regurgitation, aspiration, bloating, and diarrhea.
If the orphaned kitten develops diarrhea, reduce the formula volume. It is better to slightly underfeed than to overfeed neonatal orphaned kittens. Kitten milk replacer should be the sole source of nutrition until 3-4 weeks of age at which time the weaning process may begin.
I Have Heard That Kittens Cannot Urinate Or Pass Motions Without Assistance Is This True
It is necessary to stimulate kittens of less than two weeks old to urinate and defecate as they cannot do this without stimulation from the mother cat. The voiding reflex by which urine and faeces are released, is normally initiated by the mother licking the kittens anogenital region . Where the mother is not available, urination and defecation must be maintained by the human carer for approximately four weeks or until the kitten is independent. It is quite normal for a distressed cry to be heard when the kitten needs to pass faeces, which should cease afterwards It may be useful to use fragrance-free wet wipes for newborn babies and soft tissue. Stimulate the ano-genital area gently both before and after feeding, as they feed better with empty bladder/bowels.
From three weeks of age, the reflex should begin to be triggered while the kitten is placed on the litter tray. Leaving a small amount of soiled litter within the tray will serve as a reminder to the kittens of where to perform.
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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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Can You Touch A 2 Week Old Kitten
If you are taking care of an orphaned kitten, of course you can hold them! The biggest thing to keep in mind when touching and holding them is to keep them warm.
With our kitten, we would wear a sweatshirt backwards and swaddle her in the hood of the sweatshirt. This kept her warm and nestled like should would be if she was cuddling with her mother.
Im sure there are many other ways to keep kittens warm while holding them.
But it also allowed us to be partially hands free. We would usually only have to use one hand to support her while she was sleeping and had the extra hand to attempt to be productive.
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How Much Should You Feed Your Adult Cat
As your kittens metabolism starts to slow down and he reaches adulthood, you might notice him start to put on excess weight. Obesity is a common issue among adult cats and, when not corrected early on, may lead to complications later in life. Regular exercise and a well-controlled diet will help to prevent obesity and keep your cat in good shape.
Whether you feed your cat homemade cat food or the best commercial cat foods, its critical to feed him the right amount per day. But theres no single amount of food that every cat should eat each day.
Calorie needs vary from cat to cat, with many factors coming into play. When deciding how much to feed your cat, youll have to consider his breed, age, reproductive status, underlying health conditions, and more. In general, however, the recommended daily caloric intake is about 20 calories per pound of bodyweight.
that helps you identify how many calories your cat needs per day.
Should Kittens Be Weighed Regularly
It is advisable to monitor the kittens growth rates by weighing them regularly. It is best to weigh the kittens daily at the same time, as in all cases daily increments will vary from kitten to kitten. It is good practice to keep daily records. They should double their birth weight in the first 7 to 10 days, then continue to gain weight steadily.
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Newborn Kitten Care Week By Week
Your new kittens have arrived, and even though the mother cat did most of the work, you still have things to do. Before long, those helpless kittens with closed eyes and ears will be enthusiastic bundles of energy. In the meantime, you’ll need to guide them through their first weeks of life.
If your kittens have a healthy and loving mother cat, they’ll rely on her to perform much of the important early work. You’ll help out and provide valuable care, but you’ll stay out of mom’s way as she cares for the litter. Or, you might find yourself with a litter of kittens whose mother cannot care for them for some reason. In that case, you’ll be responsible for additional care. Either way, here is a basic outline of newborn kitten care, week by week: