WARNING: This is a very long post since I gave a lot of details
Anyways, I got the inspiration last week about posting my experience in rearing my rescued kittens when I read about Pammy's post regarding her own rescued kitten - Furball. She had done everything she can in taking care of Furball, it's just unfortunate that she didn't make it. I knew that Pammy was really saddened about it and I know the feeling since I have experienced those too.
I started rescuing kittens last year because I already have the means to stand up to my parents that I can't let those babies just die without fighting to live. It's just sad that I kept on losing my rescued kittens because of my ignorance at that time and so when I got these 3 kittens that I have now, I immediately called PAWS to ask for assistance because the ones I got now was way younger than my previous rescues and I was so afraid I'll lose them too.
So, I said to myself, "There are a lot of people who rescues abandoned kittens and have the heart and patience in taking care of them but not all have the means to get professional advises from veterinarians on how to take care of these small angels. And if these good Samaritans don't know how to properly care for these newborns, their naturally low survival chance will become lower and they'll just die."
So with that thought, I would love to share all of my personal experiences and the advises that both the vets and the staff at PAWS gave me these last 2 months on how we can up the survival of our rescued babies. I hope this post can be of great help to all of you in the future when you do get a chance to rescue.
RULE#1 - ALWAYS KEEP THEM WARM and DRY.
It is best to keep unweaned kittens with other kittens so they can share body heat and they won't feel lonely because cats usually give birth to at least 3 kittens at a time so it's normal for them to be with siblings.
I placed my kittens inside a dog carrier (a picnic basket with lid is also a good substitute) so that they have enough air to breath but they are still protected from the cold and other animals. I also placed a clean old rag inside so they can snuggle up there and the cloth can absorb their pee.
Also, the best way to keep them warm is to put a hot bottle covered with cloth inside their sleeping area. Make sure that the bottle is closed tightly and the cloth is thick enough so that your kittens won't get burned. I used my old Lock n' Lock drinking bottle that can withstand hot water and covered it with a thick worn-out socks. It worked great! The kittens really snuggle up to the bottle whenever they feel cold.
*since Garfield is bigger now, I put his basket inside a dog cage so he can still play around*
RULE # 2 - BUY A FEEDING BOTTLE MEANT FOR NEWBORN KITTENS (and wash it after every use)
Kittens needed a feeding bottle with small long nipple. The nipple should reach their throat in order for them to suck properly. The regular infant bottle is too large for their small mouths and using a dropper and syringe is a little dangerous coz they can drown in the milk.
2 of the 3 kittens I got were literally newborns, maybe 3 days old, because they still have umbilical cords and their eyes were still closed. The only male of the trio is a little bigger (maybe 3-4 weeks older) because he can already stand and move around although he still can't see. So, feeding the two little girls was really a challenge because they tend to drown quite easily so I need to carefully feed them everytime. Also, the younger they are, the more frequent they want to feed. Now that Garfield is almost 3 months old, he can have around 4 hours of interval between feeding.
RULE # 3 - FEED THEM WITH MILK MEANT FOR KITTENS/PUPPIES OR AN INFANT MILK WITH LOW LACTOSE CONTENT
I know that not all of us can afford milk replacement for puppies/kittens because it is quite expensive and it gets bad quite fast -- this is my case-- so the next best thing we can give them is an infant formula that is lactose free because dogs and cats don't have enough lactase (the one that breaks down lactose found in milk) so giving them regular milk can give them diarrhea and they will die of dehydration.
I buy the one made by Nestle because it is cheaper than NAN (this costs P400+ per small can). Nestogen Low Lactose only have one size (340g) and it only costs Php169.75 in Mercury Drug. I put 1 scoop for every 2oz of water (1:2 ratio). Lactose free milk gets spoiled quite easily compared to the regular ones so I just make 1oz of milk everytime and just make another batch when it's done. According to the vet, we can never over feed them so it is safe to continuously give them milk whenever they want it...it is usually every 2 hours in my experience :)
*look how big his appetite is. I'm always happy whenever I give him milk..
I felt like I'm a mom breastfeeding her newborn hehe*
JUST REMEMBER, although we are giving them milk, we can never replace the quality of their moms milk. Two out of three of the kittens I rescued died after a month because they got sick. According to the vet, we can't do anything about it because they got the infection from their mom at birth and since they don't have their mom to give them the boost in immune system through her milk, they can't fight it off. Garfield only survived because he came from a different mother who probably were able to drink colostrum at birth and he is a couple of weeks older than the two so he is a lot stronger.
RULE#4 - START GIVING THEM MASHED KITTEN FOOD WHEN YOU ALREADY HAVE A GO SIGNAL FROM THE VETERINARIAN, not before.
This is my mistake last year. The kittens I got before already have teeth and I thought I can already feed them with food instead of milk...WRONG! They died because they were unable to digest the sardines I gave them..It was so sad because when I was only giving them milk, they were so healthy :(
SO, I got really scared of that. Even though one of the 3 kittens started to get teeth, I really stretched the time and waited for the go signal from the vet. According to him, kittens around 2-3 months old can tolerate food as long as it is meant for kittens and it is mashed up. Also, we should never stop giving them milk because that's still their main source of fluids.
Garfield started eating solid food around Christmas time because we got a go signal last December 18. He was able to tolerate it and he really loves eating Whiskas Junior (Php23 at Landmark grocery). I give him 1 tablespoon every 4 or 6 hours and milk in between because I want him to drink fluids regularly.
TIP: Try using a small feeding plate (I used the one for sauces..yung pang sawsawan na platito) so that they can't put their feet inside the food. They still are messy so lessening the size can help in decreasing the mess.
RULE # 5 - YOU NEED TO STIMULATE THEIR GENITALS TO MAKE THEM PEE/POOP
This is the case if you have really young kittens. It is the job of their mom to lick their genitals after every feeding so they can eliminate properly. But since they don't have a mom anymore, and you are the substitute mom until they get a little older and can do it themselves, it's now your responsibility. You can use wet cloth or moist cotton balls to gently wipe their genitals after every feeding. Don't forget to dry them after too coz they can get cold and bacteria loves moist places.
I have used up quite a lot of cotton balls but I prefer it compared to using cloth coz it's more sanitary (I'm kinda OCD haha). It is easier for me to throw dirty cottons than frequently wash cloths haha. Don't worry, their pee and poop doesn't smell bad since they were only drinking milk. You'll get a problem with the smell when you start giving them solids.
RULE # 6 - BRING THEM AT PAWS AND APPLY FOR FOSTER CARE
PAWS is already full at the moment (they have more than 300 cats there at present) so they won't be able to accept your rescued kittens but they can offer you FREE veterinary services and can lend you stuffs for taking care of your ward. They will also help you find someone to adopt them when they get older if you don't want to keep them.
*click the photo to go to PAWS website*
I talked to PAWS and told them I made a promise with Garfield that if he survives to adulthood, I will be the one to adopt him because I love him already. He still have one month to go before he passes the critical period but I am very positive he will survive :)
RULE # 7 - BRING THEM TO A VETERINARIAN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Get them checked so that if ever they have any problems, the doctor can treat them. They can also give you advices and probability about your kitten's survival. When I first bought the 3 kittens I rescued, the vet already informed me that the chance of surviving is very low and we could only do our best to take care of them and it's still up to the kittens if they can fight off whatever they got from their mom.
RULE # 8 - DON'T FORGET TO HAVE THEM SPAYED/NEUTERED
6 months is the time when cats started ovulating and looking for partners. It is best to get them spayed/neutered at this time so you can stop unwanted pregnancy to happen. This way, we won't add to the ever increasing population of cats (and even dogs) on the streets that only gets killed by cars or abused by inhuman people.
It is very simple: NO unwanted pregnancy = NO abandoned kittens
Those are the rules/tips I've learned from the veterinarians and the staff at PAWS that I talked with these last 2 months. So far so good and I have faith Garfield will push through. I hope when the time comes and you found abandoned kittens on the sidewalk, you won't hesitate to pick them up and take them home because now you have the basic knowledge on how to care for them. Good luck! :)
Thanks for dropping by!