If you are following along with this series, welcome back! In my previous blog post, I reviewed the basic expectations when fostering a pregnant cat or already has her kittens. This blog post in this series will be on orphaned kittens from birth to two weeks old. This age is detrimental for many reasons – this period of time can be fatal, or it can set them up for a healthy, long life.
When a kitten is orphaned, it means that its mother is not around or was not found. This could be for many reasons, but the most common is that the mother cat was feral, and a good samaritan found her babies outside, needing supportive care. You, or the rescue you are working with, should always exhaust options finding the mother, but it is not always that easy. Kittens aged birth to two weeks old are very fragile and are usually referred to as ‘bottle babies.’
Orphaned bottle babies are very young and will need a lot of supportive care. They need to be fed around the clock, have a heat source at all times, they need to be stimulated to go the bathroom, and require weight check-ins and general health monitoring multiple times a day. Bottle babies are a super exciting age group as this is when they will learn how to hiss, meow, wiggle around, and will also open their eyes around ten days old!
If you are working or going to school full time, and not home often, bottle babies may not be the right fit for you. Bottle babies need to be fed every two hours around the clock. This means you are up through the night at 10 pm, 12 am, 2 am, etc. If you work from home, you may be able to take on bottle babies, but please keep in mind, you will be groggy when you’re getting used to being up all night! You may even be able to take on bottle babies if your job allowed you to bring them
Young kittens cannot control the temperature of their bodies, therefore, a heat source is needed around the clock. If you have access, an incubator is the best option for neonates, but there are other options like an electric heating pad or a microwaveable disk. You will need an enclosed area which can be a plastic bin without a lid, a small carrier, a small playpen, etc. You will need bottle feeding supplies and syringes, blankets or towels, and cleaning supplies. Another great item to have on hand is a stuffed animal with a heartbeat to simulate the mother being there.
In conclusion, bottle babies may not be for someone who has a lot of other time commitments in their life. A great time to take on bottle babies could be with your kids are on summer break (and you can teach them how to care for neonates!), if you are working remotely, are a stay at home or homeschooling parent, or can bring your bottle baby to work comfortably. Stay tuned for my next blog post on fostering orphaned kittens aged 2-4 weeks old!