One of the most vital steps to be ready for your first foster is making sure you have all the necessary supplies to be able to help the animal. As kitten season is quickly approaching, it is a great time to make sure you have the supplies needed. Depending on the type of animal you are fostering, the items will vary. I will be explaining the items that you will need to foster kittens under the age of 8 weeks old. This age can face fatal consequences if the proper supportive care is not given. Keep in mind, there are a lot more items to assist in supportive care, but I will be explaining the most essential.
The first thing to understand about neonatal kittens is that they are unable to internally heat themselves until they are about 4-6 weeks old. You will need a heat source for the animal and a small, contained space. You can use an electric heating pad, a sock filled with rice, or a Snuggle Safe microwaveable heating pad. A sock filled with rice will be your least expensive option, but they don’t stay warm for long. I use a Snuggle Safe microwaveable heating pad because it stays warm for up to eight hours, and I do not have to be worried about electrical issues.
Another important part of kitten rescue is proper nutrition. ‘The younger the kitten, the closer to formula,’ is my motto. Kittens aged 1-3 weeks old should be bottle-fed with formula or kitten meal replacement. Once kittens can walk on their own, you can move them to ‘gruel’ food, which is wet food mixed with formula and water. Once kittens are about 4-5 weeks old, you will want to give them an option between wet and dry food. Kittens should be on a high-calorie meal, so any cat food labeled ‘kitten’ on it will meet these requirements.
For small kittens, litter boxes are also a necessity. A small box works best because they are inexpensive, and can be trashed once dirty! Once kittens are more independent, you can move to regular plastic litter boxes. You will want a litter that does not clump as kittens are adventurous and will eat the litter, which can then clump inside their body and is highly unsafe. The more supplies you have, the better when it comes to litter box training, so I usually make sure I have multiple on hand when I take in a new litter.
Kittens like to be cozy. Make sure to provide them with a lot of warm blankets, towels, and stuffed animals. Make sure that they are never scrunched up or in piles because the kitten could suffocate themselves. For a more in-depth list of kitten supplies and how to be prepared for your first foster baby, Kitten Lady has a great post on her website – http://www.kittenlady.org/supplies. If you have questions or would like more information on foster supplies, like this post, and I will share more!