During this time of year, feral and unaltered stray cats reproduce prolifically. As many as 50 cats might be brought into the shelter in a single day. If you encounter a litter of kittens in need of rescue in Multnomah County , use this page to learn how to help them. A mother cat will periodically leave her nest to hunt for food. If you see young kittens without their mother, it is likely she will return. The mother should return to the nest within a few hours if you watch quietly from a distance.
It is always better for young kittens to remain with their mother than for people to intervene. Pre-weaned kittens under 4 weeks without a mother are very difficult to care for and have a high mortality rate. They require frequent feedings of kitten milk replacer formula day and night, and many simply "fail to thrive" without the care of their mother. When you do see the mother cat, approach her slowly to see if she is social and friendly. If she is comfortable with people, she may in fact be someone's lost pet.
You can bring her with her litter of kittens to a local veterinarian or to MCAS to scan for a microchip to locate a possible owner. If a microchip isn't present, you can report the cat and her litter as "found" on the MCAS found pet directory , and follow other tips and instructions of how to care for the cats or find an owner.
If you choose to care for the mother and her kittens, you can bring them into your home to shelter and feed them until the kittens are old enough to be spayed or neutered. If you watch and a mother doesn't return, the kittens will need immediate care in order to survive.
You will need to keep the kittens warm. Put hot water in a plastic bottle and wrap it in a towel. Place the kittens in a box with bedding next to the warm bottle for warmth.
You will need to keep the kittens fed every few hours. They will need to be fed with a kitten milk replacer KMR formula. The heating pad should not consume the entire carrier or box that you place your kitten in. The kitten should be able to move to another area if it gets too hot. Warm the nest to the right temperature.
Keeping your abandoned kitten warm is the most important thing you can do. This is more important than feeding. The temperature depends on the age of the kitten. Use a heating pad to warm the kitten's box. You can use a heating pad to keep the carrier warm. The heating pad should be set on low to prevent overheating.
Cover the heating pad with a couple of towels. Also place a soft baby blanket in the nest so the kitten can burrow if it wants to. Do not leave the heating pad on when you leave the house. Heating pad alternatives include a hot water bottle, SnuggleSafe disk, or a sock with rice. Microwave the sock for 60 seconds and it will stay warm for 2- 3 hours. Method 3. Use kitty formula. Go to the cat section of the pet store to purchase kitten formula. You can purchase canned or powdered formula. Choose one and do not switch back and forth between using powdered and canned formula.
This can cause diarrhea Smell the formula when you open it.
It should have a sweet smell. If it smells badly, it may be expired. Refrigerate the powdered formula after you open it. Prepare the bottle. Wash your hands and prepare the formula according to the instructions on the container. Warm up the bottle by placing it in a cup of water that you microwaved for a couple of minutes. Do not put the bottle with the formula in the microwave.
Shake the bottle once it is warm to make sure everything is mixed well. The bottle and nipples should be sterilized by placing them in boiling water for a few minutes. You may want to buy several bottles and nipples, sterilize them, and keep them in the refrigerator so they are ready to use. The amount of formula you use depends on the age and weight of your kitten.
What to Do if a Mother Cat Won't Nurse Her Kittens
You do not want to over or under feed. Squeeze a drop of the milk on your wrist to make sure that it isn't too hot or cold. Never give your kitten cow's milk. Position the kitten. Sit down and place the kitten in your lap. The kitten should have its feet down and its head straight. Never feed the kitten with its feet in the air.
Do not try to raise the kitten's head. Do not hold the kitten on its back like you are feeding a baby. This position is actually dangerous for your kitten. Feeding the kitten in the wrong position can cause the kitten to get formula in its lungs or have difficulty latching on to the nipple. Place the nipple in the side of the kittens mouth and then center it. Allow the kitten to get in a comfortable position. Help the kitten if it has trouble latching on. Bottle feeding is not natural for kittens.
It may have trouble latching on at first. If you notice that the kitten is not latching on, gently hold its face with the heel of your palm and your fingers to keep its head from moving. The kitten will probably be able to latch on during the second try.
You may squeeze the bottle one or two times to get the milk to come out. This will let the kitten know that there is milk inside the nipple and cause the kitten to suck on its own.
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Be sure to hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle. Burp the kitten.
Kittens should be burped after each feeding. Hold the kitten against your shoulder and gently pat it on the back. You can also place one hand under the kitten's belly and pat the kitten on the back. Always be gentle when you are burping the kitten.
- Need to learn more about bottle feeding kittens? Find out about hand rearing in our guide.!
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Feed your kitten at regular intervals. If your kitten is very small or weak, feed every 2 hours. If the kitten is eating well and does not have diarrhea, you can feed the kitten every 3 hours. Regular feeding intervals also helps prevent diarrhea.