Monday, March 21, 2016

 Raising Orphan Kittens

One cold wet October Saturday a man dropped off a box at the Alley Cat Rescue office. Inside were 2 tiny kittens. By the time they got to me, they looked as though they would not live for another hour. I quickly dried them with a towel and started warming a heating pad to put them on. 

Note 1--If you find cold kittens you cannot feed them right away until their body temperature rises.
Finally they started to warm up and I got some warm KMR (kitten replacement milk) into them via an eye dropper. Sadly one of the babies only lived for a few hours. That left poor Dennis without a sibling and without a feline mother.

Note 2-- I had to step in to be “Mommy”. He was only a few days old, eyes still closed, and umbilical cord still attached. Dennis made a lot of noise for such a tiny kitten. He cried a lot and it was very hard to comfort him. I have raised many neo-natal kittens and he was one of the most demanding and needed more care and attention than any of the others I have raised over the years.

Note 3--He did settle down a bit when I put a warm, fuzzy dog toy in with him, and he would cuddle into it. But mostly he would only stop crying when I put him up against my neck. So in order to be able to do any work, I had to sit on the couch with my laptop, with Dennis nuzzled into my neck.  

Note 4-- Thank goodness in a couple of weeks, someone else dropped off an older litter of 4 gray babies. I put Dennis in with them, and they kept him company so I could get some Alley Cat Rescue work done!
Not a bad idea to consider fostering some older kittens to keep a single orphan company.

Note 5-- Then Dennis developed a terrible bout of watery diarrhea. It just poured out of him and I had to get him to the vet immediately. We dewormed him in case he had parasites, and took him off the Kitten milk. We put him on a diet of ID canned cat food mixed with warm water. This did help and in a few days we had the diarrhea under control.

Note 6--Couple things Dennis did really well. (a)  just a few days old, he took to the kitten bottle really well and loved sucking the milk from that. (b)  The second thing was that the gray babies taught him to use the litter box early on, and I was relieved of wiping his bottom and stimulating him to do potty. Something their mothers do, and you will have to take over as “Mommy”. 

Note 7-- Whereas my many other neonatal kitten babies often started to eat canned kitten food mixed with KMR on their own from around 3 weeks old, Dennis totally refused and demanded the bottle for 5 whole weeks! I was getting really worried as I was going to California for Thanksgiving and could not expect the kitten sitter to bottle feed such a big kitty.

So it was a real celebration when he finally decided to start eating on his own. Although before he turned in for the night, he would still come and ask for a bottle before bed! He sure had a way of manipulating me!
Now a happy, healthy, Dennis!!

Conclusion--  Do consider fostering orphan kittens, or mama cats with a litter. The shelters are always flooded with kittens in Spring, and you will be saving lives!  Many will be killed as most shelters cannot do this work on their own. Alley Cat Rescue can get you started.