So, I hear you’ve decided to take on the task of caring for some fortunate newborn kittens! For any human who hasn’t been through this immense undertaking before, it can be a daunting task.
Let me, Milo Fwancis, give you humans some great tips about caring for newborn kittens and mother!
What to Feed Newborn Kittens in an Emergency
It’s an emergency! Something happened to mother cat, and now you are responsible for these adorable little newborn kittens. They are too small for normal, solid food, and you’ve heard some pretty bad things about feeding kittens regular cow milk.
Newborn kittens eat a lot! If you’re going to be caring for newborn kittens by yourself, you’ll want to feed them every 2-3 hours. If at all possible, you’ll absolutely want to consult a veterinarian (or kitten rescue/certified professional breeder) for the advice! You’re probably reading this article because you have never dealt with caring for newborn kittens and mothers before, right?
Thanks to the human internet, there are more newborn kitten milk recipes available than I could count! Not all of them will be good, and some are better than others. Contacting a rescue for available donations or purchasing a high-quality mixture already available from a pet store, would be your first and best options!
Homemade Kitten Milk Recipe
1-quart worth of whole goat's milk (not cow’s milk or dairy products!)
1 teaspoon light Karo syrup
1 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt (made with goat's milk preferably)
1 egg yolk.
Newborn to 1 week: 1 package gelatin
2nd week: 1-1/2 to 2 packages gelatin
3rd week: 2-1/2 to 3 packages gelatin
Raw eggs can contain harmful bacteria, so keep this in mind. Heat this mixture in a saucepan until any gelatin is dissolved. Mix in the remaining ingredients listed before refrigerating.
● Powdered kitten milk replacement formula is ideal!
How to Save a Newborn Kitten from Dying
I’m going to assume your kitten’s problem is immediate and life-threatening, and you don’t have time to get to a veterinarian. In case of a dire emergency, follow the steps below!
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Before you try CPR with your kittens, be completely sure this is a life/death situation and CPR is the last resort. We’ve all seen wonderful, inspirational tales of success! In truth, CPR can cause more harm to any animal that doesn’t need it.
Check your kitten for breathing. To do this, watch for chest movement and feel for breath near the cat’s nose with your hand.
Feel for your kitten’s heartbeat on the lower-left area of his chest.
If there is no breathing, check the mouth and gently remove any blockages you can see.
Pull the cat’s tongue to the front (if you can) of his mouth, gently closing the mouth.
Breath one short puff of air every 4-5 seconds, checking for breath every 3-5 puffs.
CPR (if no heartbeat present)
Lay the kitten on his side, on a smooth, flat surface.
Grasp your cat’s chest with one hand by placing your thumb and fingers on either side of his chest, behind his elbows and over the heart. Give a quick squeeze to compress the chest to about one-third of its normal thickness (PetMD).
Provide 100-120 compressions per minute, and 2 breaths every 30 compressions.
● Always make sure any newborn kitten is warm at all times!
How to Care for a Newborn Kitten Without a Mother
Caring for newborn kittens without a mother will take daily, thorough devotion and your complete attention. You’ll want to ensure your kittens are always kept warm and fed with very specific formula every 2-3 hours. Neonatal kittens will have to be fed through the night also.
Though I’ve listed a recipe for at-home formula above, the best thing you can do is purchase a ready-made powdered kitten milk formula at your local pet store!
Newborn kittens without a mother are going to need your help urinating and defecating. Use a warm and damp cotton ball or cloth, gently rub the area surrounding the kitten’s genitals and anus. Heating pads could be dangerous and cause a kitten to overheat!
Create a bed with a simple wooden box and soft blankets, along with a towel-wrapped warm water bottle. Simply place the kitten(s) between two blankets and let them rest.
Talk to professionals that have cared for newborn kittens before! These humans have probably gone through many of the same problems you’re dealing with and had to find answers for themselves. When it comes to a situation as delicate as caring for a newborn kitten and mother, or orphan kittens, it’s not a good time to learn through trial and error!
Think hard before you bring orphaned kittens to a shelter and make sure to call that shelter (preferably a devoted rescue) ahead of time. Most animal shelters don’t have enough resources to devote to newborn kitten care. On top of that, most hourly workers don’t have the experience or education to handle them properly.
Fleas, Ticks, and Other Parasites
No pet owner wants to deal with this! I tell my human, Jeff, how frightening these things are constantly. As bad as they are for me, and as horrible as the problems they cause can be, the damage can easily be much worse to a newborn kitten.
Newborn kittens rely on warmth for survival, among other things. Problems with the amount of blood in a kitten’s body can both make it dangerously hard to regulate temperature and for the kitten’s cells to get the oxygen they need. While fleas might not be much beyond a nuisance for me, they can cause a very big problem for newborns!
When caring for newborn kittens, always make sure you schedule an early checkup with your veterinarian! This should happen within a week of the mother giving birth to her newborn kittens.
I hate visiting the doctor as much as anyone, but she should do a general wellness check on the little ones.