Caring for an unweaned kitten is difficult and time consuming. It will therefore be necessary to arm yourself with courage. It is strongly recommended that you turn to a veterinarian, who will give you advice tailored to your situation. A clinical examination of the kittens may be necessary in order to rule out any malformation or health problem which could have justified its abandonment by the mother. If the kitten is weak or not very vigorous, it may require a stay in an incubator and probing feeding which cannot be done at your home. But if the kitten is in good health and you decide to take care of it, then it will be necessary to provide it with a suitable environment, to take care of its feeding, and to take care of its education and its socialization.
Ensure colostral intake
At birth, the kittens’ immune system is functional, but it is immature. The kitten, which was until then in a sterile environment, comes into contact with the external environment without antibodies. He therefore benefits from those produced by his mother in colostrum, which is the first secretion from the udder after giving birth. Most colostrum is taken in the first 24 hours of life, and it is completely completed after 48 hours.
If the kitten cannot suck at all at birth, or if the mother dies during childbirth or in the hours following, the kitten cannot receive colostrum and therefore becomes very vulnerable to germs. environment. Therefore, contact your veterinarian very quickly to consider administering artificial colostrum (ideally within 15 hours of birth).
Make a cozy nest for a young kitten
The young kitten needs a comfortable, dry, warm, and easy to clean nest. The ideal is a plastic box with walls high enough so that it cannot escape. You can cover the bottom with towels that will need to be changed regularly. Newborn babies are particularly sensitive to cold, on the one hand because they are almost immobile and do not warm up when moving, on the other hand because their body is still unable to shake to warm itself. The nest must therefore be placed in a room at 22 ° C minimum. When there are several, the kittens stick to each other to be warmer. If it is alone, the kitten should be placed near a radiator with a temperature of around 30 ° C. Another possibility is to place hot water bottles wrapped in a towel in the box, but they must be changed regularly for this to remain effective.
During the first month, the box should be placed in a quiet room, away from noise and children. During the first two weeks of its life in particular, the kitten spends 90% of its time sleeping and eating.
Feeding a unweaned kitten
The orphan kitten should be weighed once or twice a day, at least during the first 2 weeks: if it does not gain weight, or if it loses weight, this is not normal and should alert you. At 2 days, he weighs about 110 grams while at 28 days he weighs about 450. Around the age of 4 weeks, the weight gain is less important: it is the beginning of weaning, which will end. around 8 weeks.
Before weaning, kittens eat exclusively milk. In the absence of breast milk, replacement milk can be used. It is most often powdered milk, the composition of which is very similar to that of cat milk. This is the preferred solution because this milk covers the nutritional needs of the kitten well, and is easily stored. In all cases, cow’s milk should be avoided: it does not provide enough energy, and risks causing digestive disorders.
Before 3 weeks of age, kittens are not able to lap, iYou will therefore need to bring a bottle. The cleanliness of the bottle and the perfect preservation of food are two very important points: it is absolutely necessary to avoid the proliferation of bacteria because the digestive balance of the newborn kitten is fragile. The nipple of the bottle must allow the milk to ooze, without flowing too quickly. The kitten should be placed on its stomach, without having to stretch its head excessively to drink. This position is important to limit the risk of false swallowing.
The frequency of meals decreases with age. At birth, the kitten should be fed an average of 6 to 8 times a day. It is important to warm the milk to a temperature of around 38.5 ° C.
From 3 weeks, the kitten should be able to start lapping the milk in a bowl. At around 4-5 weeks of age, you can add kitten kibble to her milk, so that she gradually gets used to eating solid food. Gradually, increase the amount of kibble and decrease that of milk. Remember to offer the kitten fresh water at will.
The education of the young kitten
As a “surrogate mother” you will have to potty train the kitten. The first 3 weeks, kittens must be stimulated to defecate. To do this, after each meal, massage the anogenital area with a cotton ball soaked in lukewarm water. This can be done on a newspaper for example, but away from the sleeping area so that the kitten gradually learns to be clean.
In order for it to become an adult cat with normal behavior, psychologically balanced, the kitten must learn to live with its congeners. Normally, the mother teaches her young to hunt and to control their aggressiveness. By gradually moving away from them, she teaches them independence. This is why it is preferable that the new born kitten remains in contact with a fellow creature. If this is not possible, it will still be necessary to introduce him to other cats from the age of 4 weeks. You will also need to gradually detach yourself from it, encouraging remote play behavior, using toys that simulate prey. It is best not to encourage him to play with your hands, and to bite them. Thus, you decrease the risk for the kitten to develop later behavioral problems such as aggression.
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