If you find yourself with a motherless infant kitten you want to do your best to help the baby survive. What is caring for a kitten exactly? The most important aspect of caring for a kitten is feeding it correctly. I had a mother cat and an entire litter, save one, die – and with the following tips managed to raise the surviving kitten from infancy to healthy adulthood.
You will need to gather a kitten-size bottle with small nipples, a large towel, rough wash cloth, warm water, and purchase commercial kitten milk. Never feed your kitten cow’s milk, it causes diarrhea and digestive problems.
Warm the kitten milk up to body temperature (90-100 degrees F) – always test the milk’s temperature on your forearm before offering it to a kitten to make sure it is not too hot or too cool. Milk that is too hot can burn and injure your kitten, and milk that is too cold can lower your kitten’s body temperature and be fatal.
You should feed your kitten every 2 hours for the first 5 to 6 weeks. A kitten should have about 9-12 meals a day. A baby kitten drinks about 1.1 oz (32 cc) of kitten milk a day. Follow the directions on your commercial kitten milk container for specific directions on mixing it.
Place your kitten on your lap facing down on a warm towel. You should be sitting in a comfortable position in a warm and quiet place. Your kitten must be warm at all times, just as the milk must be warm – digestive problems ensue if the kitten is too cold. Leave the kitten's head down and offer it the nipple of the bottle. It is important that the kitten’s head is down; otherwise milk can aspirate the lungs and lead to death. Let it nurse as much or little as it wants. To help stimulate nursing reflexes gently rub your kitten’s head or pet his back with your fingers.
Just like a human baby an infant kitten needs to burp as it drinks milk. Gently put your hand under a kitten and pat its back with your other hand. Do this half way between feeding your kitten and again after your kitten is done drinking.
After your kitten has had its fill of milk you need to stimulate the bowels. A mother cat naturally does this by licking her warm, rough tongue along the anus and genital area. You will need to use a warm, damp, rough wash cloth to mimic a mother cat’s licking tongue. A kitten will not necessarily release bowels or urine immediately, it may take a few feedings.
A kitten generally sleeps after eating. Sleep is important for the kitten to be able to grow and stay healthy. If you don’t have time for the kitten to sleep on your lap, make a place for it to sleep. A large stuffed animal with a heating pad turned on low or a hot water bottle wrapped in cloth with warm water in it should be placed with the kitten for the kitten to snuggle up with. Make sure the kitten has blankets to snuggle with and is in as normal of an environment as possible. The bed should be in a dark, warm , quiet and secluded place. I used the closet floor corner of my bedroom.
Introducing solid kitten food.
It is possible to introduce a saucer to a kitten at about 3 weeks of age. It is not guaranteed that the kitten will understand how to lick up its kitten milk from a bowl or plate immediately, so be patient and also offer it the bottle. Between 5-6 weeks you should slowly introduce soft kitten food. I mixed the kitten food with the milk on a plate. At first introduce a little amount, and slowly add more amounts of kitten food and reduce the amount of milk in the mixture. Once your kitten is eating entire soft kitten food slowly introduce hard kitten food mixed into the bowl and stop mixing in kitten milk. As time progresses your kitten should be eating solid kitten food. Always keep a fresh supply of water available for your kitten in addition to milk and kitten food.