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Trixie is a lovely, sweet girl who came to us from a North Carolina kill shelter. She is a special needs kitty looking for a loving home where she can be the only cat. Trixie has FIV, which is not contagious to humans or dogs but can be transmitted to other cats (although only through rare bites). Cats with FIV have a weakened immune system, but they can live normal lives if they are kept indoors and stress-free. It's important to provide FIV+ cats good nutrition and annual veterinary check-ups. Read more about Trixie and learn more about FIV.
Most kittens get adopted at about 6 to 8 weeks old. They are typically already weaned from their mother and eating solid food. It is important to feed kittens a nutritionally complete diet that contains high quality vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Wet cat food is higher in moisture, so it can be beneficial in keeping kittens hydrated, flushing out the urinary tract, and helping kidneys stay healthy. However, wet food tends to stick to the teeth more, which can be associated with dental disease and painful cavity-type problems for cats.
One disadvantage to this is that some kittens will overeat and gain excessive weight. Another disadvantage is that in a multiple-cat household, the older cats have access to and may be eating the kitten food.
Your veterinarian will figure out the total daily calories that your kitten needs, and you can divide that between the number of meals per day. Typically, by the time kittens get to 4-5 months, they can be transitioned to two meals per day, still feeding the total number of daily calories, but in less frequent, larger meals.
Sometimes intestinal parasites can cause gastrointestinal upset in kittens. It is common for kittens to come home already infected with parasites. They can get some parasites through the placenta before birth as well as in the milk from the mother cat.
If you need more time to complete an adoption, you can place an animal on hold for 24 hours for a fee of $30 for dogs and cats, or $10 for all other animals (note: puppies and kittens under six months of age cannot be placed on adoption hold). This taxable fee helps support the extra day of housing, staffing, and care needed for the animal.
Kittens require more food per pound of body weight to support their growth than do adult cats, and therefore should be fed more often throughout the day. "Growing kittens up to six months of age may require three meals a day," says Francis Kallfelz, DVM, Ph.D., board certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and James Law Professor Emeritus of nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. "From age six months to maturity, most cats will do well when fed two times a day."
Canned cat food is typically about 70 to 80 percent water, and can be fed in addition to or instead of dry. Some cats may find canned food more palatable. These cats may consume too much if they are allowed free access to food. Of course, this may occur with dry food as well. "Food with average palatability may be preferable," says Dr. Kallfelz. If it is extremely palatable, the cat may be more likely to overeat. If it is not quite so palatable, he may be less likely to overeat.
Super-sizing food portions is not just a problem for people. Since the feeding instructions on pet food labels are based on the needs of the average cat, you may be feeding more than necessary if your cat's needs are lower than average. If you feed your cat dry food, you may provide it to him at specific mealtimes in measured quantities. Dry food can also be supplemented with a small amount of canned food to make meals more appealing.
Free feeding dry food is acceptable for the cat who exercises self-control, but some cats like to snack, and for them, free feeding can add up to extra pounds. "If a cat can maintain his weight, free choice feeding is okay," says Dr. Kallfelz. Even dry food left out for your cat to free feed needs to be fresh, so be sure to provide new food each day. If free feeding doesn't work, you need to control how much they eat. "Several small meals may make them feel less hungry," says Dr. Kallfelz. "But one is okay nutritionally."
Since kittens under four weeks of age do not have the ability to thermoregulate, we must help them maintain body warmth. One method is to place a warmed Snuggle Safe disk at the opening of the cage or crate. This disk then provides the needed warmth for 8 hours. Instructions for how long to heat the Snuggle Safe disk depending on the wattage of the microwave are printed on each disk. If you are unsure what wattage the microwave is, heat the disk for 5 minutes, then check the temperature with your hands. Make sure it does not feel too hot before placing it in the cage or crate. Cover the heating disk with a soft folded towel or blanket so the kitten cannot directly contact the disk. If no heating disk is available, place a heating pad on the low setting under the crate or on the bottom of the cage, then place a soft folded towel or blanket between the kitten and the heating pad. Check the heat source frequently to ensure it is not too hot or too cold. Make sure some area of the cage does not contain a disk or have a heating pad under it so kittens can move away from the heat source if too hot. Kittens also like a nice nest in their cage or crate so bundle them in a nice fleece that they can crawl into and out of.
If feeding multiple kittens, it will be easier to get them all fed the required amount if you feed each one multiple times during the session. To accomplish this, feed the first kitten until it stops nursing, then feed the second, and so on. After each has had one turn at the bottle, go back to the first and repeat the process. Usually after two or three nursing turns, a kitten has had enough for one feeding. When a kitten has had enough formula, it will usually get some bubbles around its mouth and its abdomen will be very rounded, almost pear-shaped.
A kitten is ready for the weaning process when it bites the nipple often and forcefully, and is able to lick formula from fingers. Continue bottle feeding through the weaning process to ensure kittens get adequate nutrition and are not overly stressed. The first step of the weaning process is to get the kitten to lap up formula from your finger and then a spoon. Once it masters this skill, put formula in a flat dish. Introduce the kitten to solid food by mixing warm canned kitten food and prepared kitten formula into a thin gruel. Gradually reduce the amount of formula mixed with canned food until the kitten is eating just the food.
Kittens often walk through their food. Make sure the kittens are clean and DRY before putting them in their cages. Most weaning kittens are messy eaters so you may not be able to leave gruel or water in their cages at first. Wet kittens can rapidly lose body temperature.
Mother cats groom their kittens to stimulate urination and defecation on a regular basis. If you are acting as their foster parent, you get this important duty. Very young orphan kittens will not be able to urinate and defecate without your help, so this is a crucial part of neonatal kitten care. Before and after each feeding, gently rub the kitten on its lower abdomen, as well as the genitals and rectum with a cotton ball/pad dipped in warm water or a fragrance free baby wipe. Make sure to rub only enough to get the kitten to eliminate because overstimulation will irritate the area. Keep an eye out for chafing and lingering dirt and do not let the kitten get chilled. Kittens should (and almost always will) urinate during each stimulation. They should defecate at least once daily.
At the same time as introducing a litterbox, you may need to start providing some dry kitten food so the kittens can chew on the food and not the litter. When teaching a kitten to use a litterbox, placing their feces in the box so they smell it in there often helps. If you have a kitten that defecates on its towel instead of in the box, move the feces to the box instead of completely cleaning it out of the cage.
Kittens should gain about ½ ounce (14 grams) every day or 4 ounces (113 grams) per week. Weigh them at the same time every day with a kitchen or small postal scale. Lack of weight gain in a 24 hour period is cause for concern. Begin syringe feeding the kitten and have a plan in place for who foster parents should contact. To syringe feed the kitten, mix up the KMR as usual and then draw it up in a syringe. Put a nipple on the end of the syringe and place the kitten in the proper feeding position. Try to get the kitten nursing by slowly pushing KMR out of the syringe and through the nipple into its mouth. Make sure it swallows the formula before you push more into its mouth.
Feeding: If the kittens are orphaned, they need to be bottlefed every 2 hours. If the queen is with the kittens, they should nurse vigorously and compete for nipples. Newborns can nurse up to 45 minutes at a time. Be sure to watch kittens nursing at least once a day, if the queen will permit it. Check to make sure that each kitten is settled and nursing. A great deal of activity and crying could indicate a problem with milk flow, quality or availability. When the queen reenters the box, there should be some fussing for only a few minutes before everyone has settled down to serious nursing.
Development: Kittens at 2 weeks of age will weigh around 8 ounces. Ear canals open between 5 and 8 days. Eyes will open between 8 and 14 days. They open gradually, usually starting to open from the nose outward. All kittens are born with blue eyes, and initially no pupils can be distinguished from the irises - the eyes will appear solid dark blue. 2b1af7f3a8