Orphaned kittens are very delicate and need constant care. Please monitor your Orphaned fosters carefully and report any decline in health immediately.
Care: Non Food Related
Very young need attention: If the kitten(s) do not have their eyes open, they are young and they should be held a minimum of three hours per day. Without this affection, young kittens will often die. Hold them SEVERAL HOURS A DAY and you should have success with the kitten.
Clear Urine: Urine should be clear, not with mucous, blood or yellow. If there is blood or mucous, contact us immediately. If the urine is yellow, the kitten is probably dehydrated.
Bathroom stimulation: Stimulation is required for the release of both stool & pee until 3-4 weeks of age. use rough material, not cotton, to resemble mom’s tongue. Use a warmed, wet wash cloth or a rough paper towel. Make sure the towel is wet. Slowly massage the genitals until the kitten has peed and pooped. The stool should be softly formed, not runny. If the stool is runny, it is likely you are overfeeding the kitten or it has a parasite. It is better to feed more often and give less food each time than to overfeed a kitten. Potty them before and after each feeding.
Keep warm and away from drafts: Young kittens do not keep a steady body heat. Keep out of drafts. Also, heating pads are essential. Put the pad on low and cover with a towel. The kitten will move off the pad when warm enough, so allow enough room in their ‘area’ for them to move off the pad.
Sucking on each other: If the kittens suck on each others genitals, separate them immediately. This can be painful to the kittens and can cause sores as well as protruded genitals (which will calm down when separated) Once they stop sucking, you can put the kittens back together. This can take several days.
Litter box usage: When starting to use a litter box, if the kittens poop outside the box, pick it up and place it into the box for training. Most kittens train themselves with a litter box with a little nudge from us. If you have the kittens in a large area, you may wish to provide more than one box so ‘accidents’ don’t happen.
Type of litter: Do not use clumping litter with kittens under 4 months. Litter can get into the eyes and cause infections. Kittens also tend to eat the litter when young. You may wish to start out with a small container for the litter box with sides that are only 2 inches high.
Keeping the kittens clean: While you are feeding the kittens, they will get food all over them, especially while you are weaning them. You need to clean them regularly to keep the food off them. They have sensitive skin and can get red, irritated skin if you leave KMR on their skin. A damp washcloth usually cleans them. You don’t want them to get too wet and therefore get cold.
Parasites: Remove all fleas. A citrus based shampoo is good, it doesn’t kill the fleas, but slows them down. This also takes the dirt off them. A metal flea comb works great, too. Fleas can cause anemia in a kitten which can kill the kittens. Intestinal parasites can also kill the kitten. If you suspect parasites, let us know. We will generally offer dewormer at the beginning anyways.
Care: Food Related
Feeding all kittens: Food should be warmed to room temperature prior to feeding any kitten under 4 months of age. This includes mother’s milk replacement. You should only put as much milk in the bottle that will be used at this feeding. After the feeding is over, throw out all remaining milk and clean the bottle and nipple. Re-using milk can cause bacteria in the kittens stomachs, which can make them stop eating. If kittens DO get a bacteria in the stomach (and stop eating), a dose of amoxicillian should fight the bacteria within 12 hours.
How much to feed and how often: 8cc per ounce of weight per day, do not overfeed. Feedings should be every 3-4 hours when the kittens are young and should be round the clock. The stool should be soft formed, not runny. If the stool is runny, it is likely you are overfeeding the kitten or it has a parasite. It is better to feed more often and give less food each time than to overfeed a kitten. Kittens should eat on it’s stomach. Do not put them on their backs and feed like a human baby. This can lead to the formula going into the air pipes which can cause pneumonia and can kill them. Kittens should suck the bottle, not be forced down the throat. If the kitten is sucking, the ears move and the mouth creates a suction around the bottle. This prevents the food from going down the air pipes which can cause pneumonia. If the milk comes out of the mouth or nose, the hole is too big and you need to replace the nipple with one with a smaller opening.
Weaning kittens: Weaning kittens can be frustrating, especially if they don’t want to give up the bottle and the special attention you are giving them. Start by mixing baby food (meats like chicken or turkey) or wet food mixed with KMR. You can also puree dry food in a blender and add with KMR. Kittens should start drinking water on their own at 4-5 weeks of age. Don’t get frustrated when they are only playing or walking in it. One day, you will see them drinking.
What to feed: Goats milk or KMR should be used on young kittens. Regular milk (whole, low-fat and non-fat) is not recommended. There are some home made remedies which work, too.
Single Kitten Syndrome:
Single kittens tend to be biters. This can be helped by putting in a stuffed toy for the kitten to snuggle up to. You may also wish to find another single kitten to merge with this kitten. It is a health risk to merge them together for either kitten, but it can be really hard to break the habit of biting with a young kitten.
Fading Kitten Syndrome
If a kitten looks lethargic and is having trouble standing up or opening it’s eyes it is fading. This is the worse thing for a kitten. Immediately wrap up the kitten like a burrito in a heating pad set on low. Give it warmed sugar water in the mouth with a syringe. Immediately call a vet or contact a PKR representative so they can walk you though the process. The most important part of this stage is staying calm and concentrating on getting the kitten well.
If you find an over warmed kitten: If you find an over warmed kitten, cool it down before trying to feed the kitten. Put in cool water to lower the body temperature. Administer room temperature water into the mouth. Then, give the kitten room-temperature sugar water.
Some need to knows for weaning newborn puppies. Please contact us if there are any concerns with your foster’s health. Also to make sure to weigh your fosters TWICE day to make sure they are never loosing weight.
Nesting Box: You will need to have a nest box for the puppy(s). Since the infants often soil their container, a small cardboard box that can readily be replaced to keep the babies in work well. Pick up a few and replace them as need be. Just be sure nothing toxic was stored in them. Be sure the sides are tall enough so that the puppy can not fall out. Line the box with clean bathroom hand towels, diapers discarded underclothes, etc. Be sure that there are no threads or holes in the material for the puppy to get tangled in. To maintain temperature, keep a heating pad set at its lowest setting under one side of the box. Wrap the pad with sufficient bath towels so that the inside of the box stays at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit but no higher. Puppies housed at that temperature will themselves be a few degrees warmer – more so if more than one are huddled together. With only one side of the box heated the puppy will be able to crawl away from the heat source if it gets too warm. Place the box in a draft free location. As the baby matures the temperature in the box can be gradually lowered.
Singletons: Single orphans can become more aggressive and bite on objects more often. Offer them a stuffed animal to cuddle with and spend more time with them then normal. As soon as they are vaccinated make sure to introduce your singleton to other pets in order to prevent developing animal aggression in the future.
Food Care: Use a Esbilac formula – it is not cheap, but is the best and the others will fall short. Formula is only good for 12 to 24 hours after you make it and only if it is kept cold.
Scrub and boil the bottles and nipples EVERY DAY – without fail. Do not leave formula in the bottles out of the refrigerator longer than you are using them. Ideally you should have a separate bottle and nipple for each pup. The small size human baby bottles re usually good for larger pups since the veterinary ones are really small and the nipples don’t fit into most pups mouths well. Warm formula prior to using it. Either by holding under hot water or in a microwave for few seconds at a time. If you microwave, shake REALLY well to avoid hot spots that can burn the pup’s mouth. 10 day old pups still need to be fed every 4 hours and possibly more frequently if they seem hungry before four hours is up.
Weaning: Offer high quality dry puppy food and small dish of water somewhere between 4 and 5 weeks of age. They will mostly walk in it and make a mess, but it will eventually dawn on them that this is food. Weaning will happen somewhere 5-7 weeks of age. Don’t rush this and make sure you have seen a pup both eat and drink before you stop giving the bottle.
Stimulating: Every pup needs to be stimulated to pee and poop at each feeding. Normal puppy stools are yellowish brown with a jam-like consistency. After every feeding, gently massage the anus and urinary orifice with a cotton ball or Kleenex moistened with warm water until they urinate and defecate. Be very gentle when you do this and don’t worry if no urine or stool is produced after every feeding. By the time the pup is three weeks old it should be able to go without your help. If a pup has not pooped in a day, your pup is constipated. Please contact us so we can make an appointment with a vet. If the pup doesn’t pee with each feeding, feed it formula more often and if this doesn’t fix the problem right away, notify us so we can see if the pup is dehydrated.
Puppy Baths! Puppies need to be kept clean. This means lots of baths (remember the mom would have licked the pups all the time to keep them clean). Use a gentle, puppy shampoo, like Halo Herbal Shampoo. Don’t get water in the ears or soap in the eyes. Use warm water. Dry well and warm the pups up very quickly. During their first 2 week of life it is best to just clean puppies with a damp pledget of cotton. Younger puppies should get only partial baths. Do one section of them at a time with a soft, wet hand towel. Check the underside and hind end of all puppies carefully for fleas when you groom them. Fleas can quickly get out of control. If you find any, pick them off with tweezers and drop them into some isopropyl alcohol or vodka. At the same time, throw away their nest box and put all reusable bedding through a hot air cycle in your drier. Don’t be surprised if you are washing the pups more than once daily.
Medical: At 6 weeks of age puppies are ready to be vaccinated since they won’t have any maternal antibodies from nursing. Be really careful not to expose them to any dog diseases until they are fully vaccinated. Let us know when your puppies are ready for a vaccine appointment.
If a puppy seems lethargic or not quite right, get it to a vet RIGHT AWAY. These guys do not have the reserve to hang on until the morning or the end of a work day, etc. Bottle fed pups have a poor survival rate, but this is usually because folks don’t feed them correctly and don’t see vet care ASAP. Remember that they are infants and lack the benefit of their mother. Their care is hard, but they can and will survive if handled correctly.