Manual Rearing of Kittens

When the mother cat abandons her offspring or is unable to care for her babies, humans must intervene and hand-raise the kittens. Read here how kittens are hand-reared.

There are several reasons why a mother cat is unable to take care of her offspring on her own. For example, she may be ill and weak or may have died in childbirth. Especially with very young cats that are giving birth for the first time, it sometimes happens that they do not accept their babies because they are still too inexperienced. Cats should therefore not have offspring before the age of one year, although they are often sexually mature at an earlier age. In the case of very large litters, it can also happen that the mother cat cannot take care of her young herself.

Another Cat is Raising the Offspring

If the mother cat won’t adopt her kittens, the best solution is to have the kittens raised by another cat who has also had kittens. Breeding associations, breeders, animal shelters, cat protection associations, and veterinarians provide information on where a cat has just become a mother that could come into question. The internet is also a good place to find a wet nurse.

Raise Kittens By Hand

If there is no other cat suitable as a surrogate mother, the owner must hand raise the kittens, provide them with the food they need, and provide them with warmth and security. This is a difficult and time-consuming task because newborn kittens are blind, unable to regulate their body temperature, and need feeding every two hours. They even need help with digestion.

You can get the replacement milk you need from your veterinarian. Emergency services can also be reached at weekends and at night. Let him show you the feeding technique with a feeding bottle or, if necessary, a stomach tube. There are various good products with a similar composition that are tailored to the needs of kittens.

How to prepare the substitute milk is written on the packaging, and it is important to follow these instructions. When preparing and feeding, you should pay particular attention to the following points:

  • If you use milk powder that is mixed with boiled, hot water, make sure that no lumps form when mixing. Even tiny lumps can cause digestive problems. To be on the safe side, you can filter the milk through a fine-mesh strainer.
  • To drink, the milk must be at body temperature (cheek test).
  • The bottles with rubber teats specially made for cats are ideal for feeding. The opening of the teat must not be too big, but also not too small, otherwise, drinking will be too much trouble. And of course, the suction openings have to “grow” with the kitten.

Massage After Feeding Baby Cats

In the first two weeks of life, every meal is followed by a massage of the stomach (in the direction of the anus) and the anal region. The mother cat stimulates urination and defecation by licking these areas with her tongue. As a foster mother, use a damp cotton pad for this.

Feeding Schedule for Baby Cats

Initially, the kittens will be bottled every two to three hours. From the third week, the intervals between milk meals are gradually increased. Of course, only if the kitten drinks well and roughly doubles its birth weight within eight to ten days. Best of all, keep a weight log. When the kitten is four weeks old, you can offer him the first bites of solid baby food.
  • 1st and 2nd week: give bottles at 12am, 2am, 4am, 6am, 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm and 10pm.
  • 3rd week: give bottles at 00:00, 03:00, 06:00, 09:00, 12:00, 15:00, 18:00 and 21:00
  • 4th week: Give bottles at 12 a.m., 4 a.m., 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • 5th week: Give the bottle at midnight, the wet food at 8 a.m., the bottle at 2 p.m., and the wet food at 8 p.m
  • 6th and 7th week: Give the bottle only when necessary, e.g. if a kitten is not eating well. Give wet food in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.
  • From the 8th week: Give wet food in the morning and in the evening.
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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