Sometimes you find a stray kitten, a litter of kittens or even a stray mother with an entire litter. If you find a mother with more than one or two kittens in the litter, they may be too much for you to handle so you might be best off to take it to the local Humane Society or Animal Shelter. The kittens and mother will usually receive the medical aid they need there.
If the mother is sick the shelter will have cats called Queens there who can nurse any stray kitten. They will also protect and vaccinate the mother and litter and putting them up for adoption. If you fall in love with one of the kittens then you can wait until it is ten weeks old to adopt it and also be assured that it is well cared for in the mean time.
Sometimes you end up finding a lone stray orphan. Once again, vaccinating and caring for this orphaned kitten may be too expensive and time consuming for ordinary people with regular jobs. Give it a good a chance in life by taking it to a shelter.
However if you decide to take care of the orphaned kitten on your own keep in mind that is a project that will likely last until the kitten is ten weeks old.
Your first task is to make the kitten a safe nest This is usually a cardboard box lined with a heating pad covered with towels and diaper pads next to it. Kittens are not trained and will go frequently inside the box so be prepared to clean and a lot. Try to use a cardboard box that is big enough so that the kitten cannot crawl out of it.
It also helps to position a lamp over the box to keep the kitten warm. During the first week of life, the temperature of the interior of the box should be about 88 degrees to 92 degrees, the second week 85 degrees and the third week 80 degrees. After the kitten is one month old it is comfortable in average room temperatures.
After establishing a nest for the kitten, your next step is to take it directly to the vet. Your veterinarian can answer your questions and check to be sure there are no serious problems such as flea infestations or upper respiratory tract infections. It may also be necessary to vaccinate orphaned kittens that did not receive the antibody-rich colostrum of mother’s milk.
Jotting down a record of weights in a journal can be very helpful if you encounter problems and must consult with your veterinarian. Newborn kittens typically weigh in at about 100 grams, and should double their weight during the first week.
Kittens have specific nutritional requirements that cannot be met by cow’s milk. They should be fed a commercially prepared infant kitten formula, available from your veterinarian or from a pet supply store. Because they cannot drink very much at one sitting, kittens should be fed approximately every two to four hours. The formulae should also be heated to about 100 degrees.
The vet will probably supply you with a bottle designed for feeding kittens. You will also have to burp the kitten after it feeds by rubbing its belly. To simulate the licking the mother would do around the kittens anus and urogenital region to stimulate it to urinate and defecate, you will also need to wet a cotton ball with warm water and rub those areas.
By the age of three weeks, and certainly by four weeks, kittens should be interested in drinking from a shallow dish. A small amount of finely ground solid food (turkey or beef baby food works well) can be introduced at four weeks and added to a dish of formula, starting the road to weaning (which can be completed by six to seven weeks). Your vet can also provide or suggest food that is appropriate for your orphan.
One beneficial effect of bottle-feeding is that kittens will be gently handled and stroked many times each day. Such handling is an important part of socializing kittens. Often the bond that is developed between and an orphaned kitten is very strong because of all of the stroking and handling at an early age.