- All About Kittens You Need To Know
- Bottle Feeding Kittens: Everything You Need To Know • Heartbeet Kitchen
- Feeding A 1 Month Old Cat: Everything You Need To Know
All About Kittens You Need To Know – The sheer thought of handling immature kittens tends to frustrate many organizations. Vulnerability, the time commitment required to keep life alive and the fear of poor outcomes add to the stress of employees already performing their daily duties. (Just seeing someone walk into a shelter with a litter of neonatal kittens can trigger an anxiety attack!)
But we are here to tell you that you should not be afraid of neonatal kittens. This toolkit is designed to help any organization build a prepared, educated and confident team that will be better equipped to shepherd these little ones through the system when a box full of babies arrives at the door.
All About Kittens You Need To Know
Even if it’s not yet time for a neonatal kitten to wander through your door, it’s always a good idea to advise your community on what to do when you find a baby that appears to be abandoned. Best Friends offers infographics in English and Spanish that you can download and share on social media.
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There are also many great campaigns that stress leaving kittens somewhere, like the Jacksonville Humane Society’s (JHS) “Don’t Kit-Nap Kittens.” (The JHS webpage also includes a Best Friends video showing what to do when you find a kitten!)
It is always easier to manage a kitten if there is not much to find at first. If your shelter has not yet implemented trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) and return-to-field (RTF; also called shelter-neuter-return or SNR), now is the perfect time to start prevention efforts. as many pregnancies as possible. The Community Cat Program Handbook can help organizations begin robust TNVR/RTF programming.
Once you start receiving calls from community members who have found kittens, you’ll want to have a list of basic questions ready for them:
Gathering this information can help determine if the kitten is staying put or if it needs help. In the latter case, this is the perfect time to turn your opinion into an orphanage instead of encouraging them to bring a kitten to a shelter. For more information on how to do that, see the section “Foster parent recruitment tips and tricks.”
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Once neonatal kittens begin arriving at your facility, the first 24 hours are critical to planning the path to success. Assessing your cat’s age and health status is the first step you should take upon arrival.
Newborn kittens need different care than two-week-old kittens, who have different needs than four-week-old kittens, so it’s important to age your kitten correctly. Having a handy cheat sheet for intake handlers can speed up the process and remove any doubts about the steps to take during the intake exam. Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends have developed a great guide with photos and details about each stage of growth.
Evaluating your cat’s health status begins by taking his basal temperature when he eats. The ideal body temperature for cats is 100 to 102 degrees. If it is not in this range, it must be cooled or warmed before feeding, as is the case with cats that are hypothermic (cold; temperature below 98°F) or hyperthermic (extremely hot; temperature above 104°F). can be very dangerous.
Your organization’s veterinarian will prepare standard operating procedures regarding other critical steps to evaluate health at intake for this vulnerable population. These should be clearly written guidelines in the intake area, clinic and cat house.
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To reduce disease transmission to these immunocompromised infants, limit handling to a minimum of key staff. Some additional tips to reduce disease transmission during intake exams are:
Kittens under the age of four weeks cannot regulate their own body temperature and should ideally be placed in a small carrier or crate with a heating disk or pad placed under a blanket. Do not place the cat directly on the heated surface!
Also put a small stuffed animal (nothing that can get stuck in a non-retractable nail) and a nursing blanket inside the carrier to help him curl up with a “mom-like” figure. Commercially available “snuggle cats” are another option, and have a heat function as well as a heartbeat to comfort orphaned kittens.
When the kitten between four and eight weeks does not need to remain closed in such kennels, even if it has been moved to a cage that should not be located with the rest of the general population. (Although the AVMA Shelter Guidelines recommend that shelters place kittens under five months of age into separate locations, if your shelter cannot accommodate this, at least create a private space for kittens under two months of age.)
Bottle Feeding Kittens: Everything You Need To Know • Heartbeet Kitchen
Before you start the feeding process, gather everything you need to reach it. Recommended items are a scale that reads in grams, bottles or syringes and formula, wet wipes or warm washcloths, gloves or hand sanitizer and a blanket for the baby while breastfeeding.
Before feeding the kitten, it is necessary to stimulate it first so that it can urinate and drink, because it will be more comfortable when eating. Use a warmed washcloth, baby wipe (sensitive and odor free) or paper towel and rub the back gently in a circular motion. Continue stimulation until complete.
Kittens should always be fed in the sternum position, which means they are laying on their stomach with their head slightly up, just like when they are nursing from their mother. Feeding a kitten upright or on its back can cause aspiration, which is dangerous and can be fatal. While some kittens are fine with bottles, others prefer syringes as a method of transporting formula.
Remember that patience is key! The National Cat Coalition has some additional bottle feeding tips that can be used not only by shelter staff, but by foster parents as well.
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Tracking your kitten’s progress is very important. Weight loss, lack of elimination within 24 hours or decreased appetite can be early indicators of health problems. Document tracking helps monitor changes and avoid surprises.
Kittens, unlike puppies, do a good job when they are full. He will start to turn his head, avoiding the syringe or bottle nipple. It is common for kittens under two weeks of age to sleep while weaning from a bottle, so be careful when you stop sucking and remove the bottle at that time. If you guessed wrong, don’t worry, they will tell you and start crying out for the bottle again. If you’re right, he’ll just keep sleeping. To complete it, we recommend that you re-stimulate it and then place it back in the carrier or home location.
Kitten U at the Best Friends Salt Lake City location put together a series of videos to help with each step above. These links will not only help the shelter staff but will also be a great resource for foster parents, so they don’t have to guess what steps to take.
Kittens should start nursing and litter box training at three to four weeks of age. The most common mistake is to think that kittens can learn this quickly. Some kittens have a hard time changing their eating habits and others may not take to the litter box right away. The journey takes time and patience and if you don’t think your cat is ready, it’s okay to wait.
Feeding A 1 Month Old Cat: Everything You Need To Know
Weaning is the process of transitioning a kitten from eating out of a bottle to eating gruel, then wet food, then dry food (usually eight to nine weeks old). You will know that he is ready to move on to the wet food added to his diet when he starts chewing on the nipple.
Wet food should be placed on a shallow dish or plate, and you can make gruel by mixing it with milk substitute to entice him. It is useful to give this at each feeding, but do not force the kitten to eat only gruel. Allow people the opportunity to also still nurse from the bottle to ensure that they take the right number of calories and complete nutrition in each meal. Not until the molars come in should solid food be introduced. More information on weaning can be found here.
Litter box training is the process of getting your kitten comfortable with urinating and defecating in the box. It is important to choose litter that is safe for kittens as some may try to eat standard designs. Paper litter or pellets can help train your kitten safely.
Make sure the litter box is low enough that the kitten can get in and out easily. Cardboard trays from canned food boxes work well and can be thrown away and replaced often. When you stimulate the kitten to feed, when he starts urinating or defecating, immediately put it in the box so that he finishes. Give many pets when
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