The reasons why a newborn kitten was left without a mom cat can be very different, ranging from a simple rejection of offspring and ending with her illness or death. In such cases, the person has to take care of feeding and caring for the baby. These concerns can be compared to caring for a newborn baby, so it’s important to understand that it won’t be simple and easy. At the same time, the first month of life is the most difficult period, since the baby’s body is practically not adapted to independent life. The main thing is to arm yourself with patience and useful tips regarding the basic aspects of caring for a newborn kitten.
Cat's milk is able to fully provide the nutritional needs of the offspring during the first 4 weeks of life. But if newborn babies are left for some reason without a mother, you should first of all take care of the competent selection of a milk substitute.
Important! To choose the right nutrition for newborns, you need to know the composition of cat's milk. It is characterized by a higher content of fat, vitamins and minerals compared with cow's milk, and the amount of protein in it is almost doubled. Additionally, it contains taurine - an amino acid necessary for the cat's body to break down fats.
If the problem of food selection was taken by surprise, at first you can use mixtures intended for infants, which are diluted with boiled water 1.5-2 times more than the norm specified in the instructions.
Whole cow's milk is not suitable for feeding, since it practically does not contain taurine and other vital nutrients, therefore it can be a cause of digestive disorders, diarrhea and even death. Goat is more similar in nutritional composition to cat's milk, with the exception of very low levels of taurine. When using goat milk, dilute it with boiled water in a 1: 1 ratio and add 1 quail egg for every 50 grams of the mixture.
An ideal option for replacing cat's milk is special mixes for kittens, which can be purchased at a pet store or veterinary pharmacy. They are as close as possible to the composition of cat's milk, enriched with the necessary amino acids and do not cause digestive upsets or allergic reactions, provided that they are used correctly. Some manufacturers use packaging in small disposable bags and also complete the mixture with bottles and nipples, which is very convenient for use.
In addition to choosing the right milk replacer, you must properly organize the feeding process itself without a cat.
An approximate feeding schedule depending on the age of the kitten is as follows:
- 1-13 days - after 2-3 hours, regardless of the time of day;
- 14-24 days - after 2-3 hours in the afternoon, 1 time at night;
- 25-35 days - after 3-4 hours in the afternoon, night feedings are optional.
With an increase in the intervals between feedings, it should be borne in mind that babies are not always able to eat a full serving at one time, so sometimes they have to be fed an additional half an hour or an hour later.
It is important to control weight gain in the first 3 weeks of life: the minimum figure is 5 grams, the optimal is 10-15 grams per day.
The best option is to imitate the behavior of the mother cat: to stroke the baby before feeding on the back and forehead. This can be done with a sterile wipe, simulating the movements of the cat's tongue to stimulate the sucking reflex and improve digestion. While eating, you can also make light stroking movements and even purr or quietly pronounce something by analogy with a cat's rumbling.
Serve the mixture from a small container through the nipple. If the bottle with the pacifier was not sold complete with the mixture, it can be purchased separately at the pet store or you can use the rubber part of the eye dropper for this purpose by making a hole in it.
In some cases, you can use a disposable syringe without a needle, but it is not advisable to do this constantly, because:
- firstly, there is a great risk of choking and drowning;
- secondly, the sucking reflex is weakened, which is fraught with digestive problems.
It is also important to maintain a certain food temperature: in the first 3-4 days, it should be within 36-38 °, and in the next - 30-32 °. Too cold food is fraught with digestive disorders and hypothermia, which is unacceptable for newborns.
The feeding procedure is as follows: put the baby belly down on her lap or on the table, but in no case belly up. Next, carefully insert the nipple into the mouth, holding it at an angle of 45 ° and shaking it slightly so that it starts to instinctively suck the contents. You need to feed until he sucks. A well-fed baby rounds his tummy, he does not squeak, but falls asleep almost immediately. When it is full, you should wipe the face and other soiled parts of the body with a piece of cloth dipped in warm water. After this, you need to give the animal a vertical position in order to remove excess air from the stomach from the stomach and promote digestion.
The development of kittens is negatively affected by both underfeeding and overfeeding. The main indicator will be the color of the chair, which normally should be golden brown and a dense consistency. Possible deviations:
- yellow liquid - negligible overfeeding;
- greenish - moderate overfeeding;
- gray - constant overfeeding (it can also be a manifestation of infection, therefore, in such cases, consultation with a veterinarian is required).
In the third or fourth week of life, it is already possible to offer a milk substitute in a shallow bowl. The same time is suitable for gradual accustoming to solid food. The introduction of new products begins with minimal servings (literally the size of a pea) and requires constant monitoring of the stool. Food should be given in a small bowl, leaving it in an accessible place. It is also important to ensure free access to water.
As complementary foods, you can give:
- dairy products (kefir, fermented baked milk, cottage cheese, sour cream);
- chopped meat, previously scalded with boiling water (beef or chicken);
- boiled and chopped vegetables;
- ready-made feed with a specialized, age-appropriate composition.
Kittens need to be fed from a bowl several times a day, so that by the age of 5 weeks they will become accustomed to a new diet.
Arrangement of the place
After solving the problem of nutrition, it is important to organize a nest for the baby - a safe, warm and dry place that will be protected from drafts. To equip the house itself, you can use a small size dense cardboard box or plastic basin. A waterproof oilcloth, soft cloth and a disposable diaper are placed on the bottom, which must be regularly changed. The bottom should be soft, but elastic so that the cat can crawl and not get confused in rags. The box should be installed in a quiet place and provide twilight inside, covering it with a lid or a piece of fabric. You can put a soft toy in it that will imitate the presence of a cat and additionally provide babies with protection and reassurance.
The cat heats its cubs, maintaining the optimal temperature and protecting them from hypothermia, so first of all you need to take care of the surrounding temperature. In the first week, the temperature in the cat's house should be within 30-33 °, starting from the second week - 27-29 ° and gradually brought to 24 °. It is advisable that one of the sides be a little cooler, so that the kitten can crawl there and avoid overheating. To ensure constant heat, you can use:
- infrared lamp (in this case, the distance at which it will be suspended is determined using a thermometer);
- bottles of warm water or an ordinary heating pad, wrapped in several layers of towels, but they are suitable for emergency heating at first, because they require frequent changes, which creates additional chores.
It is dangerous to use electric heating pads or heaters for heating!
During the first two weeks (until the peephole is opened), the kittens will feel comfortable in the twilight, therefore, feeding them is also recommended in dim light.
Despite the fact that the nutrition of newborn babies requires basic attention, other functions should be remembered. Newborns are not able to empty their bladder and intestines on their own. That is why in the first weeks of life, a cat-mother constantly licks offspring. This is necessary not only to maintain hygiene, but also to activate the work of internal organs and systems (intestines, stomach, blood formation) and muscle relaxation, due to which emptying occurs.
You can do the same with a soft brush or a piece of cotton wool soaked in warm water. Twice a day, you need to wipe the muzzle and the anus, and after feeding, do a light massage of the tummy and the anus to stimulate emptying. You should also gently massage the hips from the inside near the urethra, which will cause urination.
When the kitten reaches 4 weeks of age, you can begin to gradually accustom to the toilet tray. To do this, place it there after each meal. To make it easier for him to enter and exit the tray, you can trim one of the sides a little.
It is also important not to forget about the care of the eyes and hair of newborns, since they can only wash themselves on their own by the fourth week of life. Eyes begin to open by 6-10 days, and already at two weeks of age comes complete insight.
We should not forget about the development, because the cat-mother communicates with her offspring, teaches him survival, the development of hunting instincts and other wisdom. So that the baby gets used to the person, from about the second week of life, you can often pick him up and gradually increase the time spent together. Kittens require very gentle and careful handling, as they are very prone to injury. It is especially important to control their stay with young children.
At the age of three weeks, they hear and see well, actively move around, so this is the right time for games, encouraging hunting habits, as well as stopping unwanted behavior.
Of course, the care of a person for a kitten is not able to replace the natural care of mom cat. But patience, attention and knowledge of the physiological characteristics of development, combined with unlimited love will help to successfully leave the baby, even if he was left without a cat.