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The newborn kittens they must remain with their mother until eight or ten weeks of age, as nothing replaces colostrum and breast milk. Before this age it is not advisable to give them up for adoption. But, ¿how to feed newborn kittens that have been rejected by their mother? ¿And those who have been orphaned?
Although it is not advisable to separate a baby kitten from its mother and siblings, as this negatively impacts its well-being, development and socialization, sometimes there is no other option. Therefore, in this AnimalWised article we will explain how the feeding newborn kittens. You will also discover how to perform good growth control and many other fundamental details of feeding baby kittens.. ¡Find out how to feed a newborn kitten in this comprehensive guide!You may also be interested in: Feeding newborn puppies Index
- What do newborn kittens eat?
- How to feed orphaned newborn kittens?
- Newborn kitten care
- Weight control of newborn kittens
- Weaning the kittens
What do newborn kittens eat?
Immediately after the kittens are born, the mother begins to produce a special milk called "colostrum ", yellowish in color and rich in protein. This milk will provide all puppies with the necessary immune defenses at this very vulnerable stage. Later it will produce mature breast milk, which is the ideal food for any baby kitten.
All the needs of the kittens will be covered by mother's milk during the first weeks and any factor that prevents it leads to rapid dehydration of the little ones. Therefore, we must make sure all the kittens suckle correctly, especially when we talk about large litters, and that they gain weight appropriately. Thus, breast milk is what a baby kitten eats until at least eight weeks of age, at which time the cats are weaning..
How to feed orphaned newborn kittens?
To begin with, you should know that feed orphaned kittens It is a complex process, therefore, the first thing we advise you is to go to a veterinarian. The specialist will help you assess the health status of the litter, offer you advice and the best formula for the little ones.
Milk for newborn cats
Artificial formula milk is a food that we can buy at any veterinary clinic or hospital And, although it is not as efficient as mother's milk, it does cover the nutritional needs of kittens. In this stage they require around 21 to 26 kcal for every 100 grams of weight. Temporarily we can replace it with an emergency formula formula.
Formula milk should be prepared just before administering to kittens and should be distributed to kittens in sterile syringes and nipples. Ideally, each kitten should have its own liner. It is advisable not to prepare the milk in advance but if you have to, you should keep it in the fridge at a maximum temperature of 4 ° C, and never more than 48 hours.
Syringes are more appropriate for kittens less than 4 weeks old because bottle nipples are often too big for them or have too high a fluid output..
Milk should be given to a temperature 37-38 ° C, It is better to heat it in a water bath because if you microwave it, very hot bubbles of liquid will form and other very cold ones. The kitten must show a sucking reflex to be able to feed it with the bottle otherwise it could cause swallowing problems. If not, check with the vet.
Distribution rhythm for feeding kittens
The number of feedings a kitten should receive per day varies. When they are with their mother, kittens tend to absorb milk in small amounts, but in large numbers, up to 20 times a day. Therefore, the rate of distribution of replacement feed must be regular., without exceeding 6 hours between shots. Likewise, enough time should be allowed for the kittens' stomach to empty, approximately 3 to 4 hours..
It is advisable to offer 4 to 8 daily intakes, leaving between them a time of between 3 and 6 hours maximum. It will be essential to respect the rest times of each individual and avoid constantly waking them up, as this can generate a picture of stress.
It is also important to note that even if conditions are favorable and kittens drink heavily, artificial feeding can lead to a developmental delay of the kittens. This must not exceed 10% and must be compensated at weaning. The stomach capacity of a newborn is about 50mL / kg. Usually a kitten only absorbs a few 10-20 ml per milk intake, that is why the concentration of the milk replacer is essential to meet the needs of the kittens.
If the energy density of the baby kittens is too low we will have to increase the number of feedings. In this case, to cover the nutritional needs, we will create an excess of fluid that can affect the water balance and damage the kidney. On the other hand, if the milk substitute is too energetic or if we give too much the kitten, may have osmotic diarrhea or other digestive disorders.
Feed newborn kittens step by step
Before starting we must prepare a calm and relaxed environment, in this way we will avoid the appearance of stress, swallowing or digestion problems. To feed orphaned kittens we must place them in the same position that they would adopt if they were with their mother: the head elevated and belly on top of a towel. We will let them suck until they are satisfied, always trying to respect the amounts that we have mentioned above..
Once they have finished sucking, we will keep waiting a few minutes and then we will help the kitten to defecate and urinate, gently massaging the belly and genital area so that it empties its intestines in a solid or gaseous way. It is a very important step. Then we will place all the kittens, one by one, in their nest to snuggle up and rest. We will continue feeding them in this way until the weaning age begins, which is around 4 or 8 weeks old.
If the kitten wakes up constantly, meows and moans, it is a sign that we are undernourishing it. If we do not increase the number of intakes or kcal. of the milk provided it is likely that, progressively, become inactive and stop gaining weight. Faced with a picture of malnutrition, we will observe diarrhea, dehydration, hypothermia and hypoglycemia. In the most serious cases we must go to the vet urgently.
Newborn kitten care
In addition to everything mentioned above, we must provide a suitable environment for cat puppies. In this stage they are not able to regulate their temperature, therefore, we must provide them with a soft and warm nest.
We can use a cardboard box or a carrier and, at the bottom, we will place a heating mat at about 20ºC or 22ºC. On top we will place several towels, since direct contact with the mat could cause burns in the little ones. If it is very cold we can cover the "nest " that we have prepared with a blanket, leaving only a small hole.
The ambient humidity is a parameter that you must control: the humidity should be between 55-65%, especially when the kittens are away from the mother. For this you can simply place some bowls with water near the nest to keep the oral and respiratory mucous membranes of the kittens hydrated..
Weight control of newborn kittens
Birth weight is an important diagnostic factor. It is established that low birth weight is related to the severity of diseases in newborns. A study shows that 59% of dead-born or dead cats a few days after birth had a low birth weight.
If the cat received an inadequate diet for her physiological state during pregnancy, the weight of the kittens may be affected. Also, kittens with a low birth weight they have a higher metabolism and higher energy needs. They are more predisposed to hypoglycemia. To preserve the data, we recommend that you write down each day in a table the weight of kittens, at least for the first 2 weeks.
The normal birth weight of a kitten is between 90 and 110 grams. But in addition, you must earn a few 15 or 30 grams every day during the first month (at least 7 to 10 grams daily) and must have reached twice his birth weight by the age of 14 days. Thereafter your weight will increase between 50 and 100 grams every week. Whether it is male or female does not influence weight gain during the first weeks.
Weight loss may be acceptable if it does not exceed 10% per day and affects only a limited number of kittens. On the other hand, if the whole litter loses weight, the cause must be found quickly, going to the veterinarian if necessary. If a kitten's weight decreases every day, the food is probably insufficient or of poor quality.
A kitten that loses weight for 24 to 48 hours or that stops gaining weight for 2 or 3 days must necessarily receive a food supplement, the results are more favorable if it is intervened at the beginning of the weight loss.
Relationship between age and weight of a growing kitten from birth to 8 weeks:
- Birth: 90 - 110 grams
- 1ª week: 140 - 200 grams
- twoª week: 180 - 300 grams
- 3ª week: 250 - 380 grams
- 4ª week: 260 - 440 grams
- 5ª week: 280 - 530 grams
- 6ª week: 320 - 600 grams
- 7ª week: 350 - 700 grams
- 8ª week: 400 - 800 grams
Weaning the kittens
¿What do month-old kittens eat? Weaning of cats begins around four weeks of age, although in some individuals it may be later and in others earlier. We must respect the times of each of the baby kittens. We will start by placing wet cat food cubs near the nest, 2 to 3 times a day.
As they become more interested in food, we will add water, which we must keep fresh and renewed at all times. Later we will substitute wet food for dry food for puppy cats soaked in water. Finally we will stop adding water to the food. Once again we remember that it is a progressive process that must be adapted to each of the kittens.
If you want to learn more about the feeding, care and health of puppy cats, do not hesitate to train in the VETFORMATION Veterinary Assistant course, which will teach you to take better care of your felines in a professional way. Likewise, you can also specialize in the Feline Ethology course.