One way or the other, you might have come across a neonatal kitten without you even knowing. How does one know what a neonatal kitten looks like? Well, kittens, ranging from birth to three weeks of age, are often referred to as neonates. During the first few weeks, kittens are extremely vulnerable. For defense, warmth, and nutrition, they are completely reliant on their mothers. A vision of contentment is a healthy infant cared for by their mothers. In this article, you will be taught about the necessary things to do; peradventure, you come across neonatal kitten(s) without the presence of the mother cat.
What to Do When You Find a Neonatal Kitten
I’m pretty sure you know what a neonatal kitten looks like before you landed on this page. If otherwise, you should understand what those tiny baby cats look like now, with the brief description above.
These tips will help you be the best caregiver possible if you find yourself caring for kittens that are newborn to four weeks old (also known as neonatal kittens).
A Little Caution…
However, be aware that, despite your best efforts, some neonatal kittens will not be able to survive. All you can do is give in your best and be proud of yourself for taking on such a significant responsibility.
1. Request Assistance with Neonatal Kitten Care
First and foremost, you should contact veterinarians and no-kill shelter facilities/units to see whether they have a nursing mother cat that could “adopt” the kittens or have experienced volunteer caregivers who can render advice even help to raise and feed the kittens.
Suppose you are lucky enough to circumvent this first option. In that case, it’s a win-win situation as the kittens have greater chances of surviving infanthood, while you will be relieved of taking up such huge responsibility at the same time. However, you should be prepared to take the mantle if you can’t find a centre that will adopt the neonatal kittens in your possession. And that takes us to the next item on the list to-do, in line with the context of this article.
2. Keep The Neonatal Kitten Warm
So, how do you keep a neonatal kitten warm? Kittens should be placed in a cat carrier with several layers of towels wrapped around it. Keeping pets warm with a heating pad or heat disc (often the better option) and a soft fleece blanket is also a good idea. Ensure your kitten’s carrier is big enough for them to get away from the heater when they want to.
This is what we are using for our kittens bought from Shopee online.
It’s essential to keep your cat carrier in a safe, warm location away from other animals. It’s an excellent idea to check on your kitten many times during the day. If your kitten is freezing, you should try to warm them up right away. Keeping the kitten warm will help to keep it alive and not die from cold.
3. Feed The Kitten
How to give feeding to neo-natal kittens?
Kittens under 4-weeks old are unable to consume solid food; It makes no difference if it is canned, fresh or dry. To live and get the nutrients they need, they depend solely on their mother’s milk. If the kitten’s mother isn’t around, it will depend on you.
If the kitten’s mother isn’t around, you can feed a nutritional supplement called kitten milk replacer to your newborn kitten. You mustn’t give your kitten the same milk that you are taking as a human. Also, cow’s milk has the potential to make cats fall ill. A veterinarian will help you pick the best kitten milk replacer if you’re unsure which one to use.
This is the milk formula we are using bought from pet shop. Never feed your kitten cow’s milk. It can cause diarrhea and dehydration very quickly. Kittens lack the enzymes to digest the lactose found in cow’s milk.
After feeding the kitten, if there is some leftover milk, it should be kept refrigerated. Follow these simple instructions to feed your kitten:
- Get the formula ready. Get your kitten formula to a temperature just above room temperature. Before feeding your cat, always check the temperature of the formula. Place a few drops on your wrist to be the formula isn’t too hot.
- Maintain a safe environment. Wash your hands and the bottle you used to feed your kitten before and after each meal. It’s also a good idea to invest in a “kitten gown.” This may be a shirt or robe that you only wear while feeding or caring for your kitten. The use of a kitten gown helps to reduce the spread of germs.
- Gently feed them. Handle your kitten with caution when it’s time to feed it. The kitten should be lying next to you on its back, nursing from you as it would from its mother. When your kitten sits on your lap, wrap it in a soft towel. Finding a role that is comfortable for both of you is the key.
- Allow them to take the initiative. Hold the formula bottle to your kitten’s mouth and allow the kitten to suckle at its pace. Stroke the kitten’s forehead softly if it doesn’t feed right away. The stroking stimulates the kitten mother’s cleaning routines. It makes the kitten want to feed.
- Feed them at regular intervals. Kittens must feed every three hours, regardless of the time. People set the alarm most of the time to ensure the baby cats don’t miss a meal. This is particularly useful during the night. It would help if you fed your kitten regularly. Diarrhea and extreme dehydration will result from skipping or over-feeding your kitten.
- They should be burped. Kittens, like infants, need to be burped after each meal. Lay your kitten on their stomach and softly stroke their back until you hear a small burp. You will need to repeat this process many times during each feeding.
- Stimulate the kitten after feeding. After every feeding, stimulate the kitten to pee and poop. Steadily hold the kitten using one hand, and gently rub the genital region in a circular motion with a soft tissue. The kitten should begin to pee. Continue to stimulate the kitten until she is no longer peeing. The kitten might also poop as you stimulate the area. Your kitten should pee every after feeding, but pooping once a day also indicates a healthy sign.
If you can’t get your kitten to eat for some reason, call your veterinarian right away.
What Do Neonatal Kittens Feed On, Besides Milk?
You should wean your kitten off the bottle when he or she is around 3.5 to 4 weeks old. This is a long-term phase that requires patience and practice. Typically, the procedure goes like this:
- Start by spoon-feeding your kitten food.
- Start giving your kitten formula in a saucer later.
- Add canned food to the kitten formula in the saucer gradually.
- In the saucer, gradually increase the amount of canned food while decreasing the amount of kitten formula.
If your kitten isn’t interested in the spoon or saucer right away, keep offering the bottle.
As you go through the weaning process, keep an eye on your kitten’s stool to make sure they’re digesting everything properly. If your baby cat is doing well and hasn’t developed any stomach problems (such as loose stool or diarrhea), you should gradually increase the amount of food she eats. It’s also necessary to provide your kitten with a bowl of fresh water at this point to ensure that they stay hydrated.
How Often Is A Neonatal Kitten Expected To Eat?
The frequency at which your neonatal kitten eats is usually determined by their age, as explained in the list below:
- Each 2-3 hours for the first one week of age.
- Every 3-4 hours at 2-weeks old
- Every 4-6 hours when they are 3-weeks old.
- 6-weeks old: three or more canned food feedings spaced uniformly during the day.
- 12-weeks old: three canned food feedings spaced uniformly during the day.
Make sure to contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns or need more information about how much or what kind of food to feed your baby kitten(s).
How Much is a Neonatal Kitten Expected To Weigh?
Depending on the breed and the size of the litter, infant kittens typically weigh about 3.5 ounces. Every day, a healthy kitten should gain at least 10 grams. It’s usually a sign of sickness if you don’t see any development in their body size.
It’s vital to keep track of your kitten’s weight and how much they eat daily. When measuring animals this small, a gram scale should be used for accuracy. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your baby kitten isn’t growing or feeding as expected.
Can You Hold The Kittens In The Presence Of The Mother Cat?
Veterinarians advise against handling kittens when their eyes are still closed unless necessary. You should keep an eye on them and make sure they’re doing well and gaining weight, but avoid making any physical contact with them.
The kitten’s mother will also express her feelings about you handling her offspring. It’s critical to take things slowly at first. Give the mother cat and her kittens some room if she seems nervous or stressed.
How To Bathe Neonatal Kittens
Young kittens are unable to go to the toilet on their own. A mother cat will usually clean her babies to encourage urination and bowel movement. If the kitten’s mother isn’t around, it will depend on you.
Use a clean, soft, wet cotton ball to gently massage your kitten’s neck, genital, and anal areas to help them pee or poop. When your kitten has finished, wipe them down with a soft wet cloth.
You should add your kitten to their litter box when they are 3 to 4 weeks old. Incorporate a cotton ball into the process in the same way you did when they were younger. This will assist them in comprehending what needs to be done.
Place your kitten in their litter box gently and allow them to become accustomed to it. Please continue to work with them. To make them feel at ease, ensure their bathroom is in a secure location away from people and pets.
Final Thoughts on What to Do When You Find a Neonatal Kitten
Raising baby kittens from infanthood to adulthood isn’t an easy responsibility. It requires dedicated care, frequent feeding, and many time factors from you to keep the neonatal kittens in excellent and healthy shape.
It’s even more complicated when the mother cat is not available with the babies. Furthermore, part of the kittens might not survive even with your utmost care for them. You don’t have to feel bad about it. It’s one of the harsh attributes of nature.
However, adhering to the healthcare tips in this blog post will significantly increase their chances of survival whenever you find a baby or cluster of neonatal kittens.
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Cha of Little Misadvencha is a Filipino Civil Engineer, researcher and a fur mom. She came from General Santos City and finds that everything in life teaches her a lesson. She is inspired to write about and out of her experiences, but later found out that it was her experiences that actually inspire her.