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Orphaned Kitten Care: what the human parent should be
You have one or more orphaned kittens below weaning age that
you need to care for and you don't have access to a foster
mother cat. What can you do?
If you have time and care to give to the
abandoned kittens, you
can raise them yourself. It does take commitment and some
careful nursing, but it is a very rewarding experience and
results in cats that make excellent pets since they are so
imprinted to humans.
We are going to assume for the purposes of this article that
you have been out walking and have found a lost kitten or
kittens and can't find a nest or a mother cat nearby. Adjust
the instructions accordingly if your circumstances are
As soon as you are aware of orphaned kittens you need to get
them someplace warm before they become chilled and suffer
from exposure. The fastest way to get the kittens warm in a
hurry is to put them under your shirt close to your skin.
Your body heat will quickly warm them much faster than a
blanket or even a heating pad.
Kittens, like many other young animals, do not generate
their own heat well and have trouble maintaining their body
heat. Most of their body energy is taken up with mewing for
food and growing. In the ideal situation the mother cat and
any other littermates will provide the heat that is
necessary for the kittens to be comfortable. But since the
kitten has no mother, you must take her place.
In the first week of a kitten's life it is best to keep it
at between eighty-eight and ninety-two degrees Fahrenheit
(thirty-one and thirty-three degrees Celsius). In the next
two weeks it will still need to be kept at around eighty
degrees F. (twenty-six C.). When kittens reach five weeks of
age they can tolerate lower temperatures.
When you get home and the kittens are snuggled up against
your tummy and are either drowsing or yelping for food and
nuzzling you, do not simply put them in a box with a
blanket. You should prepare a box with a heating pad and a
blanket and get the area to the right temperatures before
putting the kittens in the box.
Make sure that the container for the kittens is in an
isolated place that has no drafts. Kittens are typically
born in dens where it is dark. Covering the box with a thick
blanket, making sure that the blanket cannot fall on them
and possibly suffocate them.
The dark box will give the same atmosphere as a den and so
will reduce the kittens' stress. After you have the kittens
in the prepared area you should then call your veterinarian
and try to see him or her immediately to get the kittens
checked for general condition and dehydration. The
veterinarian can then point you in the right direction for
care and feeding.
When they are born kittens feed often and if they are not
supplied with milk readily they will become dehydrated
quickly and may need for the veterinarian to give them
fluids by injection under the skin. Kittens that become
dehydrated will demonstrate symptoms such as loss of
appetite and lethargy.
It is very important to take care of a case of dehydration
as soon as possible. Kittens can become dehydrated quickly
from diarrhea as well. You should also have the vet check
the kitten's feces for parasites and worms.
Without a veterinarian visit you may not be able to raise
your kittens. Kittens are very susceptible to disease and
sickness and will die if proper care is not taken, and often
you will not be able to tell a kitten is sick before it is
too late. Better pay for a vet check rather than put in your
time and love and then the kitten not survive anyway.
Understand that caring for orphaned kittens takes time,
patience and care. Even the most conscientious foster parent
may lose a kitten. The important thing to understand is if
you did everything you could do not blame yourself. Kittens
die, they are fragile. But if they live they are loving and
adorable, and you will be well rewarded.
Start your kitten off with the Finest Kitten Food out
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