“We have a kitten without its mom. What do we do??
Friends in the county live on a farm, rural property. The first question I asked is
“Where is the mother?”
The most, very most important thing for a kitten less than 4 weeks is the mother’s milk. The colostrum passed on is the most important preparation for a healthy, happy life. Mother’s milk contains the antibodies that are the building blocks of a healthy immune system.
In this case, the kitten was separated from the mother, who had rejected the kitten, and was in danger of being culled and destroyed by another feral female. “Nuff said. Let’s get to work.
· A chilled kitten can’t eat. A chilled kitten will die without additional warmth. A covered heating pad or hot water bottle—use it immediately. Place it halfway so that kitten can move if too warm. Good sign if she does.
Use this outline to determine age and what to do next: (Credits to Friends of Feral Felines)
· Under one week: Eyes shut, ears flat to head, skin looks pinkish. Part of umbilical cord may still be attached.
· 1 week- 10 days: Eyes beginning to open, ears still flat. A kitten this age is smaller than your hand.
· 3 weeks: Eyes are fully open, ears are erect, teeth are visible. Kittens this age are just starting to walk and will be very wobbly.
· 4-5 weeks: Eyes have changed from blue to another color and/or kittens have begun to pounce and leap. Kittens this age will begin to eat regular cat food.
· 8 weeks: Kittens this age weigh approximately two pounds. If they have not been exposed to humans, they will likely be feral and unapproachable.
Don’t use any pesticide or flea powder on a kitten
Do use a fine comb to remove fleas and eggs
You can dilute apple cider vinegar and spray or dampen a cloth and wipe, but not too wet. Don’t chill.
Look It Up:
· First-CAUTION! Cows milk causes diarrhea!
· Follow the above outline based on age, and feel free to google around for other ideas. Friends of Feral Felines has a great recipe. http://feralfelines.net/fs_kittencare.htm
· Feed every 2 to 6 hours
· In the case of this kitten, we determined between 2-3 weeks. My first choice is to find a lactating mother to fill in the gap and provide the colostrum. Second to that, the following will work for a baby
o Kitten formula
o Homemade formula
· Feeding with a dropper, miniature baby bottle, and lastly, a syringe (but don’t force)
Pooping and Urination
Kittens under 4 weeks just need their butts swabbed with a soft cotton pad. It’s all liquid. If you’ve changed your baby’s diapers, you know about that drill. My friend’s dog wanted to be helpful and lick the kitten’s butt. They said thanks, but no thanks.
Veterinarian, and Spay/Neuter
Get the kitten to a vet for check up and tests. Altering should not take place until after 14 weeks.
Get the feral females fixed, fast. This is going to happen all over again if you don’t.
Keep or adopt out?
If you decide you are going to adopt this kitten, good for you.
If not, be prepared to be the foster family. Reach out to an independent rescue, or non-kill shelter who can promote the kitten through PetFinder, adoption fairs, and networking placements.
DO not surrender the kitten to a public shelter. 95% of those will be destroyed.
DO NOT advertise the kitten on Craig’s List.
Network with neighbors, family, friends, and your vet for a good match
If the kitten is black, and many ferals are, be very watchful and cautious around Halloween time. There are wierdos out there. Keep any black cat indoors and safe during that “Holiday”.