Each year many kittens are separated from their mothers before weaning. Because cats are naturally elusive and industrious creatures, a mother cat outdoors can make use of any quiet, secluded spot to raise her kittens, like under a porch or in a window well. If the mother cat is unsociable, she may be frightened away by people, sometimes moving some kittens and leaving others behind or just fleeing the area for a short time. Mom will also leave to hunt and find other sources of food (like garbage cans). All too often, mom is hit by a car or attacked by another animal, separating her from the babies. It may be hard to tell if the mother cat is still caring for the babies and without warmth and food, kittens can die in a short time.
Orphaned kittens need lots of TLC. They usually only weigh about 4 or 5 oz at birth and their eyes and ears are closed for the first 2 weeks of life. They need to be fed every 2-4 hours around-the-clock, depending on their age and health. Kittens should only be fed kitten milk replacer (a brand name is KMR) to provide adequate nutrition (cats are lactose intolerant and should never be fed cow’s milk). Keeping them warm is also very important, just like with newborn humans. Of course, babies should be held and petted frequently so they become socially bonded with people, especially if their mother was feral.
Kittens should be dewormed several times, starting at 2-3 weeks of age. Around 5-6 weeks old, kittens can be weaned onto soft food or “gruel” (a mixture of moistened kitten food and milk replacer). They can receive their first vaccinations at 6 weeks to ensure they develop proper immunity to disease.
“Hansel and Gretel” were found by a client of Kingsbrook Veterinary Hospital and are estimated to be around 10 days old, with an approximate birthday of September 6, 2008. They will be ready for their new homes in about 6 weeks, ask for Jen if you are interested in providing one (or both) with a forever home!