In case you ever find yourself caring for a newborn or orphaned kitten, here are important steps to follow to set them up for survival.
Taking in a little orphaned kitten (or kittens) is a very huge task but in the end, the reward far outweighs the hard work.
First and foremost, keep the kitten warm and get it to a vet to be checked out immediately. They can show you how to care for and feed it. However, if you feel that you are unable to assume this responsibility, it would be wise to hand the kitten over to the vet or a no kill shelter so that the kitten can be looked after by more experienced rescuer/volunteer so her chance of survival will be higher.
And if you do want to take care of the little kitten now, here are some of the things that you can do…
You need to set up a comfortable nesting box for the kitten. Find a hard and sturdy card box, lined it with old towels or clothes and shredded newspaper.
Newborns cannot regulate their body heat so it is very important to keep them warm. You can fill a bottle with hot water, wrap a towel around it and place it in the nesting box. Or, you can use some uncooked rice, fill it into a sock, and zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Make sure to check the temperature so it is not too hot and can burn the delicate kitten.
Feeding wise, purchase kitten replacement formula from any pet store. You will also need a feeding bottle or two. Warm her up gently before feeding her by either using the water bottle wrapped with a towel, or by gently caressing her by your chest and allowing your body heat to warm her up.
You need to feed the kitten around the clock, at 2-3 hour intervals. A kitten needs approximately 8 cc’s of formula per ounce of body weight per day.
Remember to feed the newborn kitten while they are laying on on their stomach on a hard surface or on your lap. Kittens are not newborn babies and should not be fed like one. Cut the bottle nipple with a sterile blade or scissors. Make sure the hole is big enough so the formula will drip smoothly without applying pressure to the bottle.
Also, make sure it’s not too hot. You can soak the bottle in warm water for about 10 minutes to make it warm. Test the temperature by dripping the formula on your wrist.
Go slow when feeding. The kitten will feed on their own space. Make sure the flow of formula is not too fast so the formula doesn’t get into their lungs. If you see formula coming out from their nose, hold them upside down by their feet gently.
After each feeding, make sure you place the kitten on your chest or shoulder, belly down, and give them a pat until they burp. This is important so be sure not to skip this step.
Newborns are not able to go pee/poop without your help. The mother will usually lick them to make them defecate and urinate. When the mom is not there, it can be your job to stimulate their bowel movement. Wet a cotton ball with warm water and gently rub or pat their bottom. You don’t need to use too much pressure. Just a light tap or rub will initiate the flow of urine and defecation.
Newborn kittens are fragile so when you pick them up, always be gentle. Cradle the hind legs with one hand thus supporting his body weight and hold the front of the body under the chest and behind the forelegs with your other hand. This will make them feel secure and comfortable.
You can also place a ticking clock into the kitten’s nesting box to mimic the mom’s heart beat. Make sure you wrap the clock in a towel or place it inside an old sock. This will help calm baby kitten who misses his mom.
And don’t forget to schedule a vet appointment soon so that the kitten’s health can be assessed. The kitten will also need to be de-wormed and receive it’s first round of vaccinations.
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