If you find a litter of unweaned kittens, don’t remove them. Instead, monitor the area to see whether a mother cat returns to care for them. Chances are, a mother is nearby foraging for food and will soon return. The kittens’ chance for survival is greatest when left with a mother. If after monitoring the area for a reasonable period of time (2-3 hours), it becomes clear the mother is not returning, then you can remove the kittens in order to feed them and provide other necessary care.
If you have already ensured the kittens you have found do not have a mother, we appreciate your opening your heart and home to them so that they may be guaranteed a second chance at a happy and healthy future. Angels of Assisi can provide you with supplies and other support in order to help you care for these stray orphans. By following the care instructions below, you can help save a life!
If possible, please return any remaining supplies so that we may offer them for use to the next gracious temporary infant pet parent.
How To Care For Your Infant Kittens
If your orphans are not eating on their own and require bottle feeding:
- To remain healthy, orphans’ temperatures must be maintained carefully. Young orphans cannot conserve body heat or shiver in order to create heat. Keep infants in a warm area of your home inside of the crate provided. Please line the carrier with towels or small blankets. If you have a litter, its members will curl up together in order to produce heat.
- Commercially-prepared infant milk formulas are readily available and are nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of an orphan. We have provided you with milk replacer that is ready for use. Add its contents to your orphans’ bottles. Place each orphan on a towel or blanket. They should be fed while they are lying on their bellies rather than in the position that human babies are fed. Offer them the bottle after it has been warmed to an appropriate temperature. (You may test this by placing a couple of drops onto your inner wrist). The temperature should be lukewarm. Be sure to hold the bottle upside down. Holding it any other way could cause aspiration, which means the air or food travels to the lungs. Your orphans must be fed every 2-3 hours (including overnight) and must be warm at the time of feeding.
- Newborn orphans are unable to urinate or have a bowel movement on their own. They lack the necessary muscle control over these functions. Your orphans must be stimulated to urinate and defecate. They must be stimulated after each and every feeding. A cotton ball or piece of very soft toweling works well. Moisten it with warm water and gently rub the anal and genital area. Within one to two minutes, your orphans will urinate and/or defecate. You will want to place the infants on a washable towel on your lap, which you can launder afterwards.
How to Feed Newborn Kittens — powered by ehow
If your orphans are eating on their own and do not require bottle feeding:
- Feed the wet food found in your kit. You may mix the contents together with warm water to make it more inviting to your orphan. Your orphans should be fed every 3-4 hours, and they must be warm at the time of feeding.
- If they are not urinating or having a bowel movement on their own, please follow the directions from the previous section.
If your kitten becomes soiled during feeding or in his crate, you may warm a washcloth and gently wipe him clean. Please be sure to dry him thoroughly (you may even use a hairdryer to do this so long as you don’t hold it too close to the infant) so that he stays warm.
Because the infants you found are strays, you should call the animal control jurisdiction in the county or city where you found them to report them as found. You can continue to provide care for your infants during their requisite stray period, at the conclusion of which, you can contact Angels of Assisi to inquire about enrolling the kittens in our Surrender and Foster program (typically starting at about 8 weeks of age).
The instructions above pertain to the care you will give to kittens without a mother. If you happen to have a social mother cat with kittens that you are temporarily delivering care to until the kittens can be weaned and everyone can be spayed or neutered, then this is actually one of the easiest fostering situations because the mother will do the majority of the work! You will want a room or a large crate along with a nesting area (a box turned on its side with a sheet or light blanket draped over the front for instance). The mother cat will need a litter box. The mother cat will feed, clean and socialize the kittens. You will need to feed the mother, clean her litter box and bedding, help handle the kittens (so they can become comfortable around people) and monitor everyone’s health.
Please be on the lookout for the following health concerns (some of this information was provided by Alley Cat Allies):
- Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) – Though this is common in kittens, you should not ignore it. If heavy yellow discharge develops or the kitten has trouble breathing or eating, see your veterinarian immediately. A mild URI can be cleared up by simply wiping away discharge with a warm, wet cloth and keeping kittens in a warm, damp environment.
- Fleas – Fleas on a very small kitten can cause anemia. First, pick fleas off if they are small in number. Remember that fleas do not live on the kittens, but in the environment. You may also use a flea comb lightly sprayed with SAFE flea spray from your veterinarian. For a bad infestation, you have to treat the environment. It is very risky to bathe young kittens since they cannot regulate their body temperature very well. If they are still on their mother, then flea control on her is very important. Do not use flea shampoo or topical flea treatments on kittens 6 weeks of age or younger without the direct supervision of a veterinarian.
- Parasites/Diarrhea – Any drastic change in stool consistency can mean trouble. Parasites can often cause diarrhea, strange looking stools, and dehydration. Kittens can begin a deworming treatment schedule as young as 10 days old; see a veterinarian for this. If you notice any unusual signs, your kittens should be seen by your veterinarian.
For more information about socializing kittens born to community cats, please click here
Thank you again for your time and patience. None of this would be possible without you!
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