Raising Orphaned Kittens
Orphaned or rejected kittens are a challenge to care for. Their chances for survival are directly proportional to their age. Mother cats will reject one or all of their kittens for a variety of reasons including illnesses and psychological problems. For the first two weeks of life, kittens can’t regulate their body temperature and need to be kept warm. They need to be fed every few hours for the first week. Commercial formulas are available. You can also make a formula using a cup of fresh milk (½ cup goat, ½ cup cow), one egg, two tablespoons of honey, and an appropriate vitamin/mineral supplement. You can use an eyedropper or a nursing bottle for feedings. Special kitten nursing bottles are available – they are designed to keep air bubbles out of the kitten’s stomach and as long as the kitten is able to suckle, these bottles are best. Most kittens weigh between two and four ounces at birth. Use this rule of thumb for a general guide on how much to feed: kittens require about 8cc of formula per ounce of body weight per twenty four hours – divide this total daily requirement into feedings given every three to four hours. Be sure the formula is warmed to body temperature, and let the kitten nurse at its own pace – don’t force-feed, otherwise you can fill the lungs with milk and cause pneumonia. As the kittens get older, feeding every six to eight hours will be enough. Between three to four weeks of age, the kittens will develop teeth, start walking, and begin to play.
Start weaning now by offering small amounts of canned food mixed with milk three to four times each day. By the time the kittens are eight weeks old, they should be fully weaned and ready for new homes.