If you find a kitten you think may be abandoned, wait a while before picking it up. As long as it doesn’t seem distressed and is in a safe area just watch it for a few minutes. Mom might have left it there to get food and will come back. The best thing for a kitten is mother’s milk which will have all the nutrients and protection that it needs.
If the kitten’s mother is nowhere to be seen, take the kitten to a local veterinarian for an exam. If the kitten seems healthy and too young for kitten food, your Veterinarian can give you some milk replacement to bottle feed the kitten. Milk replacement isn’t as good as mother’s milk, but it does have nutrients that kittens need to grow.
The age of the kitten will determine how often it needs to be fed. Most kittens three weeks or less, need to be bottle fed every two hours. Your Veterinarian can help you with a feeding schedule. Also at this age kittens are unable to urinate or defecate on their own. So after it eats, you will have to take a warm damp cloth and massage around its anal area to stimulate them.
At about four weeks of age is when kittens usually start slowly weaning, and you can start introducing it to a litter box. To introduce the litter box before you go to stimulate the kitten for urination place the kitten in a litter and scratch its paws in the litter. Then stimulate and once it’s done show the kitten how to bury it by scratching again. Your kitten doesn’t have its cat family to learn from, so you will need to demonstrate and go through the motions with your kitten.
Most kittens catch on fast and use the litterbox on their own before you know it. To start the weaning process, begin by adding little bits of wet kitten food to the bottle and shake it together to mix it. You don’t want just to switch them to wet kitten food, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea which can be very harmful to such a small kitten. At any time you think there is something wrong with your kitten seek the advice of your veterinarian.
About a week after you start weaning, you can leave a small bowl of wet kitten food down. At this point, it should start showing interest in solid food. Your kitten should be filling weaned and should be able to use a litter box on its own at eight weeks of age. First vaccines should be done at 8 weeks of age also. Until the kitten is vaccinated, it has minimal antibodies to fight off disease and illness. Try to keep your kitten away from other animals until it is fully vaccinated.
Written by Aileen Holcroft, ACA