And, I am still trying to take time to get all my ducks in a row with two websites of my own, ontop of a client workload that just exploded.
I’m not complaining, believe me. But if it seems we’re very Facebook-centric as of late, that’s why. I haven’t had time to do much more than fall over on the couch and pass out. The Fish is yet again teething, the baby kitties are…baby kitties and it’s in that spirit, I thought I would sit down and write this out.
What To Do If You Find Orphaned Kittens: Part 1
First of all, make sure they really are orphans and don’t imagine you can do a better job caring for them than momma can. If you know the momma and you know she’s gone for sure- then read on. If you sort of know her and she’s more domesticated- wait. She’ll probably be back. Ferals are another story entirely. Their lives aren’t as cushy as domesticated cats and sometimes, kittens get left behind. If you know for sure that the mother is gone- you have two options.
1. Contact an established and experienced rescue. I can’t emphasize this enough. There are reasons for this. First off, hand raising baby kittens is a lot of work and a lot can go wrong in really short order. If you feed them the wrong way, they can get pneumonia and die. Don’t help them to properly regulate their body temperature and they will die. If you feed them the wrong thing, they won’t be able to absorb it and they will die. They’re very fragile, handle them the wrong way and they will die. Not enough glucose, they will die. Not enough fluid, they will die. Mix the food the wrong way, they won’t get enough nourishment- and they will die. Mix it the wrong way another way and they’ll get constipated and…can…you guessed it. Die. Sometimes, they can’t take a bottle nipple and you have to tube feed them. This is a VERY complicated process and it should only be done by someone with experience doing so and if you cannot find someone who is, then you have to do it exactly right. I’m not including the information on this so you’ll skip the rescue and try it yourself. I’m doing so, because if you can’t get them in to a rescue and you do need to do it yourself, I want you to know what to do so that they don’t die. The ways they die, for the most part, are not kind. They involve some level of suffering.
Sensing a pattern here? I’m not being morbid. I’m just saying you cannot allow “Oh cute, how hard can it be?” to get the better of you. Because the answer is: it can be very hard. For a lot of reasons. If you aren’t experienced and you can find a rescue: take them to it.
2. Hand raise orphaned kittens yourself.
(I had to stop at this point because…reeew…reeew…meeew…it’s about that time again…)
First, you need a veterinarian. If you cannot afford a veterinarian, find a rescue. Eventually, the kittens you save will need vet care and at the very least, spaying and neutering. So, if you cannot do that, then, don’t. Find someone who can. I prefer more holistic means of vet care and rarely take my pets in: but I have one. And I get them spayed and neutered. If you save a life, you are responsible for it. That’s a big thing to remember. I may sound like I need to lighten up, but I don’t think so: this is one of my deepest convictions. You don’t save a life to introduce it to a life of suffering.
Barring that, the first thing you need to do is get those babies warm. This is my kitten box.
You don’t have to have a box like this, I just do because I have an older cat and dogs. If you do have other animals, you have got to keep them from the babies. If you do not, a cardboard box that is tall enough to keep them from tumbling out will do. Keep them away from your kids and your other pets. Small children and kittens make for adorable photos but they also make for accidents. Don’t do it. If that isn’t enough reason: there’s a good chance your kid can catch ringworm from the kittens.
I have a baby quilt, a heating pad set to low ONLY, a pillow case, and a towel in here. This provides warmth and comfy-ness for them to burrow into, for more warmth. Some people use paper towels and the like for ease in clean up but I prefer things I can reuse. They cannot regulate their own body temperature so keeping them “just right” is key. The heating pad is on only one side of the box, so they can get out of the heat as needed.
Open the door….annnnnnd…look out. Kitty stampede.
Next you need to check them for dehydration. You do this by a gentle pinch up of the skin at the neck. If it doesn’t spring back when you do this, the kitten might be dehydrated. If it doesn’t spring back and the kitten is lethargic and weak acting- it’s almost definitely dehydrated. Your best bet in this scenario is to call the vet because sterile sugar saline under the skin is what they need and if you don’t have it on hand, odds are pretty good you don’t know how. If you do, go for it. But it’s not something you wanna Google and do. Secondly, check for fleas. Fleas can and often do vampire a kitten to death. Don’t bathe newborn kittens. Instead, use tweezers and gently take the fleas off. You can usually find the bulk of them in the crotch or on the belly.
What do you feed newborn kittens and how much?
First answer: NOT PETMILK.
Second answer: NOT COW’S MILK.
You feed them KMR or Pro-Biolac.
You can usually find KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) at Wal Mart, if you do shop there. Your vet will likely have some on hand or know where to find it. I get Pro Biolac off of Amazon. I put a little bit of yogurt in their feeding every other day. Just about a teaspoon per bottle I mix up.
Don’t feed your kittens cow’s milk. Don’t feed your kittens cow’s milk.
Don’t feed your kittens cow’s milk.
I just did that because, well, in research for keywords on this, I discovered that people still believe that this is okay. It’s not. Why do they still think this?
Because they’re stupid.
Both cow and goat’s milk contain sugars and lactose that are hard for the kittens to digest which leads to painful bloating and even diarrhea to the point of malnutrition and death. I don’t care who you knew who had a cat that was “just fine”. It’s not an adequate replacement. PetMilk is okay, but very temporarily and only the evaporated milk variety. They really need the specific nutrients found in kitten milk replacement formulas.
Newborn orphan kittens eat about every 2 hours, and it’s only about a teaspoon the first week each feeding. The milk should be warm, but not hot with no lumps. You should feed them on their belly only, and believe me, that’s a pain in the butt as they get older- but that’s how you do it. If you don’t, they could aspirate an- yeah, you know. The hole in the nipple should be so that fluid drips very slowly out when you apply a little pressure. the kittens will eat more as they grow, and the feedings will become less frequent.
I’ll finish this up in part 2 very soon. 🙂