ARK News

Kitten care advice

December 1, 2007

If you find yourself temporary guardian to tiny, stray kittens here is some excellent advice from David Wybenga of Japan Cat Network.

By David Wybenga
Japan Cat Network



If you see a tiny kitten and want to help it, you probably have just
the one chance. If you wait till a more convenient time, or call
someone else to please help it, it may be too late. If you see it with
a mother cat, don’t remove it, but if it is by itself then it was
probably abandoned there by a person. Search the vicinity for other
kittens. There could be more a few steps away. If you don’t have much
experience with kittens like with feeding or recognizing the signs of
dehydration, then get to a vet right away.



Little kittens won’t get a fever even if they are very sick. They
can’t because their bodies cannot control their temperature. They
will easily die from exposure to the heat or to the cold. So get them
to a room or basket where there is a good temperature. Kittens will
dehydrate easily, You can syringe liquid into their mouth for them to
swallow. Light sugar water or pet milk is good. Check well for cuts
and scrapes, bumps and swellings. A small cut can abscess and kill in
no time. Kittens get icky eyes for lots of reasons. Most are not
serious but need medicine. Medicines that are fine for adult cats may
not be ok for kittens. Ask your vet.



Little kittens need milk about every 4 hours. Try to get 6 hours of
sleep if you can – feeding last thing before bed and first thing in
the morning. We greatly prefer the esbilac powdered milk, and the
esbilac bottles and nipples. Get extra nipples at the start. They will
wear out, be bitten through and you’ll screw some up cutting too big a
hole. In bottling kittens, the goal is to get the kitten to suck. If
the kitten is merely swallowing the milk that you drip into their
mouth, they will not drink enough to survive. That is really just
first aid. If they are too stressed they won’t suck. So be patient.
Try and if you don’t have success after a few minutes, set the kitten
back in its box and try again soon.



They can’t do it on their own. They will need to pee soon after
bottling. There is some technique but basically take a tissue and pat
pat pat. Then out it should gush into your tissue. Have the box handy.
Depending on the age they will not poop every day. Keep ’em clean but
be careful not to irritate. If their genital area gets red and
sensitive, they may need ointment from your vet.



Let’s say you rescue three different kittens from three different places, and they have the typical things kittens get. One has a sneeze maybe from exposure to herpes. One has diarrhea from coxidium. One has ringworm (a fungus not a parasite). If you bunk them in the same box, after a few days all three will be sneezing, pooping diarrhea and losing hair and whiskers from ringworm. You have to separate kittens until you know they don’t have something which can be passed to another kitten. Also wash or disinfect your hands when going from kitten to kitten, which are from different litters.



Little kittens that did not get enough of mother’s milk are vulnerable to all the germs we live with. Cats may clean themselves but kittens don’t.
That’s momma’s job. So, you will have to learn to wash the kittens.
Don’t get water in their eyes. Don’t get soap on their face. Don’t let
them be exposed even for seconds to the cold air while they are wet.
Use a blow dryer to dry them completely.



Some kittens will not make it no matter what you do. It’s hard to lose
them because of the intensity to which you have cared for them. Even
the most skilled kitten carer (their mother) would lose some. There
is much more detailed information to be found on line through many
sources. And a good kitten vet will give you the practical help that
could only be given when the kitten and vet are there in person.

Esbilac bottle and nipple. (sold separately) (nipple only) (nipple) (bottle)