Feeding orphaned kittens is a difficult job. Ensuring proper nutrition requires nearly constant feedings, making this project even more difficult if you have a whole litter of kittens. Still, if you want orphaned kittens to survive, it may be your only option. Here's how to feed orphaned kittens:
- Make sure it is necessary. If you find kittens you think have been orphaned, first try to find the mother. She may be out looking for food and may return to find her kittens gone. Only try to feed kittens if you know that the mother has died, has abandoned her litter, or is not producing milk. If you can locate a cat nursing her own newborn kittens, you may be able to group both litters with the mother kitten nursing all of them.
- Use the right supplies. To feed orphaned kittens, you'll need specially made bottles and nipples, or those designed for a human preemie. If you can't find either of these, you an also use a syringe with no needle, or an eye dropper. Use a special formula designed for kittens, not cow milk, soy milk, or any other formula. Kitten milk replacement can be found at pet stores and at Wal-Mart.
- Measure the right amount of milk. One-week-old kittens need about 13mL of milk per 100g of body milk, 2-week-old kittens need 17Ml for every 100g, and 3-week-old kittens require about 20mL of milk for every 100g body weight. Measure out the right amount of milk each day for each kitten. You'll need to feed the kittens four to six times per day, so divide this daily dosage by 6 for younger kittens and 4 for older ones.
- Warm the milk. Before each feeding, warm the milk and test the temperature on the inside of your elbow like you would for a baby.
- Feed the kitten. Place the kitten on his stomach, and then feed him using the special bottle. Do not squeeze the bottle; allow the kitten to suck the milk out of the bottle. If you squeeze, too much milk will enter the kitten's mouth and he could choke.
- Stimulation. Young kittens must be stimulated in order to urinate. Normally, this is done by the mother. Soak a cotton ball or soft washcloth in warm water and gently rub the underside of the kitten's back end. When he has urinated, keep him clean and warm until the next feeding.
- Transition to solid food. By the age of about 3 to 4 weeks, your kittens should begin eating solid food. Start by mixing canned cat food with the kitten milk, and then add less and less milk.
Unfortunately, sometimes things happen and it becomes necessary to feed orphaned kittens. Remember that their mother's milk is always best for them, but if it's really necessary it is possible to hand-feed kittens. This job is very difficult, but it is also very rewarding. The older the cats are before they are separated from their mother, the better their chance for survival. If the kittens seem too weak to drink from a bottle, take them to the vet immediately. In fact, when feeding orphaned kittens, it's always best to stay in close contact with your vet in case any questions arise.