For the first few weeks of a kitten’s life, he/she is totally and totally dependent on his/her mother. If the kitten is taken from the mother, or if you find orphaned kittens, then they will need to be taken care of by humans to even stay alive. With proper care, orphaned kittens have a good chance of survival.
Raising newborn kittens without a mother necessitates keeping the kittens warm, feeding the kittens, and helping the kitten eliminate.
If at all possible, orphaned kittens should go to a foster mom. Many times, when a cat is nursing her own kittens, she will be able to help an orphaned kitten or two. The surrogate mother will be able to nurse the newborn kitten and the baby kitten will grow up with the rest of the natural litter. However, if no mother is accessible, then a human can take on the difficult job of raising a baby kitten.
To do this you will need a clean, soft fluffy towel, a heating pad and a safe area for the kitten to sleep in. Kittens need to be warm at all times and depend on their mother for this.
Wrap a towel around a heating pad and place it in the kittens’ sleeping area. With no mother, the abandoned or orphan kitten or kittens will need the heat to remain warm and to regulate the body temperature.
It is very imperative you monitor the heat generated from the heating pad. It should be warm but never hot. Moreover, the kittens should be able to walk away from the heat if they get too hot.
To feed them you will need a small feeding bottle or eyedropper, Kitten Replacement Formula and a towel. Kittens grow at a rapid rate and will need plenty of nourishment during this time. Kittens will have need of bottle feeding until they are about 8 weeks of age. It is key never to give the newborn kitten cow’s milk because they cannot digest it suitably. Therefore, a suitable kitten replacement formula, such as KMR is required.
Take the kitten by the scruff of the neck as mom does and when you have a good grip, try to feed the kitten the formula by either squirting the formula in the mouth or allowing the kitten to suck from the bottle or eyedropper—both methods work.
If the kitten paws and scratches at you when feeding, simply wrap the kitten in a towel. Not only will the towel keep the kitten warm, it will keep the baby kitten from scratching you as you feed it. Newborn kittens need to eat every 1 to 2 hours for the first three weeks.
You will also need to help the baby kitten eliminate waste: To do this you will need warm water and gauze. Newborn kittens can’t eliminate without the help of the mother. The mother usually licks the anal area of her litter to encourage elimination. As surrogate, you will have to imitate this action. That is why you need gauze. Gauze duplicates the roughness of the mother’s tongue. Kittens should be wiped right after every feeding to stimulate the elimination process. You will only need to do this until the kittens are 4 weeks of age.
At 4 weeks, you can start to introduce the litter box. The litter box will need very low sides so the kitten can climb in and out with ease.
At four weeks you should start to wean the kitten. You will need a shallow feeding bowl and soft kitten food. A mother kitten will begin weaning her newborn kittens at this age that is why you must too. By this time, kittens are able to smell and can begin eating solid food. Many kittens will take to this on their own so it should not be a problem
At any rate, start by putting the formula in a shallow bowl mixed with the canned kitten food. As time moves on, you will want to increase the kitten food while decreasing the formula. Remember, your kitten still does not need cow’s milk.
By the time the kitten is 12 weeks of age, he/she should be completely off kitten formula and exclusively on kitten food. Around 7 weeks, you will want to launch dry kitten food as well. At this point, the teeth should be in and the kitten should be able to chew kitten food with no difficulty.
Kittens need heaps of love to grow up social. This means tenderly petting and holding the kittens so they can begin to trust humans. If there are small children in the home, make sure they don’t handle the baby kittens. The kittens are tremendously fragile and young children are not appropriate playmates for newborn kittens. However at 12 weeks they can hold the kittens under close supervision.