Saving an Abandoned Kitten – The First Days
By Laura Hearsons
If you are one of those people who cannot walk away from the sight of a small, helpless kitten that was tragically abandoned, welcome to the club. It is hard to turn away from these dependent animals and enormously rewarding to help them. Now that you have taken on this responsibility, what do you do with this tiny thing, whose eyes are barely open, and is probably shivering and constantly crying?
Usually its mother was killed or for some reason they have become separated and it is difficult to know how old it is or for how long it has survived on its own. There are a few things that you must be concerned about, first you must keep it warm and out of harm’s way. Second, you have to try to get it to eat. Begin with whatever you have in the house, it may be a small syringe or dropper, make sure to clean it thoroughly. You can start by giving it some milk until you can get a special formula for kittens that you can find in pet stores. Cow’s milk is not best; therefore if you have baby formula, other milk substitutes or powdered milk it is better to use those. If you have baby formula that needs to be mixed with water, put in double the amount of powder, the same goes for powdered milk. Hold the kittens head and while gently opening its mouth drop a few drops of the milk you have prepared. Make sure it is not cold but slightly warm or room temperature. The kitten will probably respond well, usually they are very hungry and need to eat quite often for the first few weeks. It is best to get a small bottle to make the feedings easier. You can get a special kitten or small animal bottle from a pet shop or you can even use a small baby’s bottle, just make sure the hole in the nipple is not to large so that the flow will not be more than the kitten can handle.
For the first week the feeding schedule will be like this: up to seven days 3-6 ml. every two hours, 7-14 days 6-8 ml. every two hours during the day and every four hours at night, 14-21 days 8-10 ml. every two hours and once between 11:00 pm and 8:00 am. Once you have the kitten formula you will know that the kitten is getting the proper nutrition and will probably fall into a routine. Kittens are usually very happy at mealtimes and will grab the bottle and frantically begin the feeding. Very quickly, they will settle into sucking, often with their eyes closed. Although during the first few weeks it is demanding to have to feed them every few hours it goes by quickly and the actual feeding does not take more than a few minutes. After the first week if you are occasionally forced to be late for a feeding, they will still survive. Do not let that stop you from adopting a kitten in the first place.
Between meals, your kitten should have a nice clean box; a shoebox is fine, with some old clothes or blanket placed inside for warmth. If it is cold, try to put a covered hot water bottle inside. The other thing that you must pay attention to is stimulating excretion. Usually accomplished by the mother licking her kittens, this is important to prevent blockage. Wipe the anus area gently with cotton balls dipped in warm water, daily. In addition, it is important to massage softly the kitten’s stomach at least once a day.
Within a few weeks, your kitten will provide you with delight and entertainment as it begins discovering the world. There is nothing more fascinating to watch and enormously rewarding to develop a relationship with this beautiful creature whose life you have saved.
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