In spring, I had several comments on my blog about how to care for and feed kittens that have been abandoned by their mothers. For this reason, I decided to write an article with the steps to follow in the care and feeding of orphaned kittens.
After looking for information on this topic on the Internet, I found the one I needed on the global pet website in their article: How to feed a newborn cat without a mother?
Based on the previous article and with other information that I have found on the Internet, I offer you, below, some tips so that you know how to feed kittens abandoned by their mothers .
- Mother cat and her kittens the first days
- First, keep the kittens warm
- How to bottle feed kittens
- Milk for newborn cats
- Number of feedings to feed the kittens
- Feeding kittens properly
- When to wean the kittens?
- Final conclusion
Mother cat and her kittens the first days
Kittens from birth should live in the care of their mother cat until they are at least 6 to 8 weeks old. Taking care of the mother and her milk provide important antibodies and protection for kittens as they develop.
Unfortunately, there are times when a mother cat can no longer care for her kittens (illness, death, abandonment) and the responsibility of saving her kittens rests with you. This circumstance can be difficult for you if you have never raised kittens before.
In some cases, although highly unlikely, you may find a surrogate cat (a cat that already has a litter of kittens or a milk-producing cat that has lost her kittens). Not all nursing cats will accept new kittens, but if you are able to locate that surrogate cat, your kittens will have a much better chance of survival and normal healthy development.
When it comes to orphaned kittens, time to act is of the essence . Gather the hatchlings and make a plan for the next 24 hours of care . You can always modify it later, but at that time it is essential to meet your immediate needs .
Next, I offer you more information necessary to know what to do when a cat does not love her kittens .
First, keep the kittens warm
Newborn and young kittens are extremely delicate, a drop in body temperature can be detrimental to their health. Make sure they have warm bedding and are kept together. Kittens help keep warm, but may need extra help to maintain a proper temperature.
You may need to put them on a heating blanket, or you can use a rice sock to help provide additional warmth if needed. It is very important to take care that the kittens do not get burned by these items, so make sure there is a blanket or clothing under the kittens so that they do not come into direct contact with the heat source.
Also make a little nest so they can share their own body heat.
How to bottle feed kittens
To begin with, you should know that feeding orphaned kittens is a complex process, therefore, the first and most advisable thing is to go to a veterinarian. The specialist will assess the health of the litter, will offer you advice and the best formula for the little kittens.
Milk for newborn cats
In the absence of breast milk, you should use a formula developed specifically for kittens , never feed the kittens cow’s milk. The cats are lactose intolerant and cow’s milk can alter your system causing discomfort, gas and diarrhea.
There are both liquid and powdered options available for kitten formula that you can find at pet stores, or through your vet.
Even a high-quality formula will not be able to deliver maternal colostrum antibodies to newborns . Therefore, if the kitten is left without a mother before having ingested the colostrum, you should try to maintain a clean environment to prevent infectious diseases.
Formula should be offered to kittens with sterile bottles or syringes . Syringes are suitable for kittens less than 4 weeks old, as bottle nipples are too large for them or can supply too much fluid.
The milk should be given at a temperature of 37-38 ° C , it is convenient to heat it in a water bath. The kitten must suck to be able to feed him with the bottle if you could not cause swallowing problems.
Number of feedings to feed the kittens
Kittens when they have their mother usually drink milk in small quantities , which can reach up to 20 times a day.
It is advisable to offer 4 to 8 daily intakes , and feed them every 2 or 3 hours . You can do this every 4 hours during the night, as long as they have been eating properly during the day. As they grow older the feedings may be delayed. It will be essential to respect the rest times of each kitten and avoid constantly waking them up.
The capacity of the stomach of a newborn is about 50 ml / kg. As a rule, a kitten only absorbs about 10-20 ml per milk intake.
The first week the kittens should drink about 13 ml of milk per 100 g of weight each day; in the second week it is increased to 17 ml, then they take 20-22 ml per day every 100 g of weight in the third and fourth week.
Artificial feeding can cause a deficit in kitten development. This lag should not exceed 10% and, where appropriate, should be compensated with more feeding at weaning.
Feeding kittens properly
To feed these kittens you should try to reproduce the same position they would adopt if they were with their mother: the head raised and the belly on top of a towel . Never hold or lay a kitten on its back to feed it. This can cause the kitten to breathe in (inhale the formula), putting the kitten at risk of developing pneumonia or even causing death.
Place the bottle at a 45-degree angle to prevent the kitten from taking in air along with the formula. If your kitten is having trouble sucking or does not respond well to bottle feeding, you may need to use a dropper or syringe to feed him. When feeding a kitten that is not nursing well, be careful not to force the formula into her mouth.
It is also important to prevent air from mixing with the formula during breastfeeding , so make sure the formula does not have air pockets if you use a syringe to feed it.
Once they have finished sucking, you wait a few minutes and try to imitate the stimulation that their mother would give them, so that they can perform their pee and poop needs. To do this, he massages the area of his genitals, imitating his mother’s licking.
Doing it right is very important. You will feed it like this until the weaning age begins , which is around three or four weeks old .
When to wean the kittens?
The weaning cats it will start around 3-4 weeks of life , although some kittens may be later. Anyway, you should know that weaning is not an exact science. There will be kittens who are interested in food later, while others will be more forward. You must respect the times required for the development of each kitten .
Once you determine when weaning proceeds, you should know how to do it. To do this, you can choose different formulas . Prepared wet food or feed is sold in pet stores for growing cats, or you can choose to prepare homemade food for them .
If you choose to feed the orphaned kittens , you will mix it with warm water to make a gruel, as the kittens will have a hard time swallowing the hard pellets. On the other hand, if you choose to make homemade food, it is not worth giving them scraps of your food. The right thing to do is to go to the veterinary specialist in nutrition and prepare a suitable and balanced menu.
When they are around three weeks old, you can offer the kittens a plate of your chosen food 2-3 times a day . A low plate will facilitate access. Thus, you will put them solid food if they want.
Little by little you will observe that they will eat more solid and less milk, so you will adapt the amounts, always gradually. If you feed porridges, you will make them more and more consistent. It is very important that you accompany the increase in solid food with the contribution of water , since it is essential that the kittens are always well hydrated.
You must keep fresh and renewed water at all times at your disposal. Weaning of kittens should never be finished before 6-8 weeks . If you wean too early, you can have consequences for the future character of the cat.
Consult a veterinarian if you notice any setbacks in the kittens’ development, eating habits, urination, bowel movements, or general health.
Kittens that do not have their mother’s antibodies in their system may be more likely to get sick or develop slowly, so keep an eye on the kittens’ health and be proactive if something is wrong (diarrhea, dehydration, eye discharge, sneezing, missing appetite, low body temperature etc.)
Caring for orphaned kittens without their mother cat is not an easy task. It takes time, attention, care, and you have to think that some of the kittens may die.
All the necessary information for the care of orphaned kittens and much more content about cats, will be provided by the Globalmascota.com page , a website that I encourage you to visit, it will surely surprise you!
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