Orphaned Kitten Care
One other thing you will need to do, since mom isn’t there to clean up after the kittens, is to stimulate the kittens to eliminate waste during or after each feeding. You can accomplish this either of two ways. You can either mimic mother cat (which I do NOT recommend!) or you can use a warm, wet paper towel to gently massage or wipe the anal and urinary openings. Your kitten should immediately urinate and or defecate. Dry the kitten after each time, and be gentle so you do not irritate the anal area.
As the kittens get older and more mobile and exploratory, you can provide a low-sided cardboard box with a small amount of litter for the kittens to get used to. It is generally instinct for them to scratch in something for their elimination habits. Once they start urinating and passing stool on their own (generally by three weeks of age), you will be able to give up that particular job of assisting them.
Some things to monitor over the course of the next few weeks are appetite, activity level and growth. You will need to call the veterinarian if a kitten won’t eat, or stops eating. Bathroom habits should be predictable and you will want to talk to your veterinarian if urinating or defecating changes, or if the kitten’s attitude or activity level also changes. Other health concerns include upper respiratory infections that create sneezing, eye and nose discharge.
Many times the eyes will get so much discharge the eyelids will gum up and stick together. Use a cotton ball with warm water to gently clean the eyes and open them up until you can contact your veterinarian.
A number of different parasites are a concern and can weaken a young kitten. Your veterinarian should treat fleas, mites, lice and intestinal parasites. Don’t use over-the-counter medications without consulting your veterinarian since very young kittens may not be able to tolerate some of these products.
Many types of problems can be determined at the time of the first visit. I'd suggest that you drop off a stool sample at 4 weeks of age (the kittens' age!) for your veterinarian to check for intestinal parasites.
By six weeks of age kittens should be well on their way to eating, drinking and exploring on their own and be quite the entertainment focus. Have your veterinarian check them over and start them on their vaccinations.
Oh, and good luck giving them up to new owners. It will be very difficult to let these little orphan pups and kittens go off to their new homes without you
Image: Vladimer Shioshvilli / via Flickr
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