Caring For Young Kittens The Correct Way
For cat lovers, few experiences can be more rewarding than saving a young kitten’s life. Due to irresponsible pet ownership, many cats – particularly those allowed outdoors – can get unwanted litters. Unfortunately, the resulting young kittens often get discarded like objects. This means that those who rescue kittens have a tough job ahead of them to ensure that those tiny lovely creatures under their care have everything that they need to grow into healthy, beautiful young cats.
It is worth keeping in mind that young kittens should not be taken from their mothers before they are at least six weeks old, as they are still nursing and learning valuable life skills. Therefore, it is important only to hand rear animals if they have been abandoned and their mother is not around to do it herself.
While the below list is by no means exhaustive, it covers the basics of what young kittens will need to become healthy pets.
It is important to first of all, take the kittens to a vet for a routine check. The vet will be able to assess whether the kittens are in good health, and will also be able to advise you on how to best care for the kittens. They will also let you know when to spay/ neuter them, to ensure that they cannot produce any unwanted litters.
Young kittens are small and very fragile. However, their curious natures mean that from a very young age, kittens can get into a whole lot of trouble. So it is essential to cat-proof your house. This means that wires, sharp objects, and small objects, for example, must be out of your kitten’s reach. In fact, with really young kittens (birth to 2 months old), it is best to keep the kittens in a pen that is completely free from any objects that could harm them and where they can be continuously monitored. This becomes particularly important if you have other animals in your house.
Young Kittens can die from being cold, so it’s important to ensure that they are warm at all times. The best way to do this is to acquire a heating pad, which you can set on low to medium. If you cannot get a heating pad, which is sold in most pet stores, you can use a hot water bottle wrapped in a flannel shirt or fleece blanket. This will ensure that the container cannot burn the kittens. Keeping them close to you should also help in keeping them warm.
It is not advisable to feed kittens with cow’s milk, as cats are usually lactose-intolerant. Failure to observe that could lead to diarrhea and death. Pet stores sell kitten milk, which emulates the mother’s milk, providing kittens with the antibodies they need to grow into healthy cats. Very young kittens often eat, as much as once every two hours. So you should plan a schedule for feeding them that will include odd-hour feedings.
As kittens grow older, they start to feed less often, and you can begin to give them a feeding schedule that suits you better. Starting at three to four weeks, kittens are ready to eat solid foods. Start with ‘wet’ and gradually introduce solids. Be sure to purchase food that has been specifically formulated for kittens from one to four months old. Usually, the more expensive brands are better, as they have more nutrients than those cheap ones. Once the kitten is older (around five months old), you can gradually introduce regular-brand foods.
Until they are around five months old, kittens eat about five times a day. After that, they can have two main meals.
This is something that mother cats usually do. However, you can emulate what she would do by gently scrubbing a towel with warm water on the kitten’s stomach and its behind. Then immediately place the kitten in its litter box. This should be done around 15 minutes after every meal for the first two to three weeks of its life. After that, the kitten should be litter box trained. Please keep in mind that kittens may learn this slightly faster, or slower than two to three weeks. You can also help the kitten to understand how to use the litter box by gently grabbing its paw and making scratching movements in the litter box.
By keeping the above tips in mind, you will be able to grasp the basics of raising very young kittens. Having a vet’s contact details handy is extremely important as emergencies can arise at any time. The vet will also be your best point of contact should you have any additional questions when it comes to raising kittens, so do not forget to enlist her help.
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