Care of Orphaned Or Rejected Kittens
Orphaned or rejected kittens are quite a challenge to care for, and the chances of saving them are directly proportional to their age when abandoned. Once in a while, a mother cat will reject one or all of her kittens. Rejection of the whole litter is usually due to shock or some other psychological problem. If only one kitten in the litter is rejected, it is usually found to have some serious defect, and seldom survives even if it is given intensive care.
What and How to Fee Orphaned Kittens
Today, fortunately, there is a canned formula called “KMR” (Kitten Milk Replacement) available at veterinarians or pet stores. Other milks are not as rich in protein as a mother cat’s milk, but if you have nothing else available, a number of temporary formulas can be made up- 1. 8 oz of commercially canned or fresh goat’s milk, beaten with one egg yolk. 2. 8 oz of canned, evaporated cow’s milk, with one egg yolk Vitamin and mineral supplement are for orphan kittens. An eye dropper, or toy baby’s bottle from a dime store can be used for feeding up to 4 weeks of age. At 3-4 weeks, you should begin to wean the kittens off the all-liquid diet and onto solid foods plus milk the can lap from a dish. They should be fully weaned by 7 weeks.
How much and how often to feed
Kittens should weigh at least 31/2 oz at birth. Here is a guide to quantities you should feed during the first 3 weeks, but the ultimate judge of quantity is the kitten itself, which will let you know you have feed enough at any one time by refusing any more- Age Weight of food per day 3 days 20% of body weight 7 days 25% of body weight 14 days 30% of body weight 21 days 35% of body weight For example, if the kitten weighs 5 oz at birth, feed it about 1 oz of formula over 24 hours, up to 3 days old. (There are about 30 “average” droppersful in 1 fluid oz.) Kittens should be fed at least 6 times a day (24 hours) and more frequently if they are very weak. The daily quantity of food should be spread over the 24 hours so that 1oz of food would become one-sixth oz per feeding, or about 5 average droppersful. After 4 weeks, 4 feedings in 24 hours should suffice, and you should be weaning the kittens by this time. From 8 weeks to 6 months, 3 feedings are advisable.
Make sure the kittens are awake before you start feeding. Burp them, as you would a human baby, after they have fed. Stroke their stomachs to stimulate urination, and once a day massage the opening of the kitten’s rectum with a cotton applicator stick dipped in mineral oil to help bowel movements. Once the eyes are open, make sure they are kept clean by a light daily washing with water. Keep the kittens warm (about 80 degrees) for the first week. A heating pad set on low is satisfactory. Gradually reduce the temperature to 70 degrees over a six week period. Always handle the kitten very gently and allow them to sleep except when they are being fed, for the first few weeks.