How to save abandoned kittens

Towards the end of last year, my brother brought home 2 kittens that were abandoned by their mother. Initially there were 3 of them, however one was not able to survive so we decided to foster and try to save 2 that were left. To say they were in bad shape is putting it mildly. And the worst thing was I knew absolutely nothing about cats, as we never had cats before. Misko came to us when he was about 2 to 3 months old, he was already eating solids and after the initial shock, he adapted to us relatively quickly. This was another ball game altogether. With a lot of digging around the Net, consulting my neighbor who is a cat expert extraordinaire and speed-reading books we have managed to get educated quickly. I am proud to say our little gremlins grew up into healthy and somewhat exuberant young cats. Fostering abandoned kittens is not for the faint hearted. It does take time, patience, effort and lot of love and care. But if you do decide to go down this road, you are doing a wonderful thing, as these cats would not be alive and healthy if it was not for you.

The very first thing you will have to do

Check the kitten's body temperature, their bellies and paws, if they are cold warm them up immediately. You should not even feed them before they are sufficiently warm as they will not be able to digest food properly. However keep in mind you want to warm them up, not roast them. The method that has proven successful for us what to warm up a hot water bottle, wrap it in a towel, add another towel for a good measure and coziness. We have also put a lamp over the box we kept them in for additional warmth. You can also use heating pads, but do keep them on the lowest setting.

Use a box, a kitten carrier or something that you can cover with a towel or some type of cloth so they can sleep undisturbed. I have stuffed their box with a number of fleece cloths so they were warm and cozy, but I have replaced them daily because

a) there were a few accidents to begin with

b) as we have cleaned them up I wanted to keep their sleeping place clean as well.

If you have other animals they have to be separated, not only because of the possibility of illnesses but also to minimize their stress levels. It would not be a bad idea for a trip to the vet as well. Vet is the best person to determine the general state of your kitten's health and if they are malnourished or dehydrated.

Pee and poop time

If you have fostered very small kittens, you will have to stimulate them to use their bladder and bowels. Normally their mum would do this by licking their rear, however since their mum is not around you will have to do it. Do not worry it is not as bad as it might sound, you will have to take a cotton ball, moist it a bit with warm water and rub it on their genitals, rectum and lower abdomen after each feeding. Be gentle, as you do not want to cause irritation. The kitten should do the business every time you do this. Bowel movement should happen at least once a day. You will have to do this until they are 4 weeks of age, by that time you can start to litter train them, by putting them into a litter box after every meal. If they seem a bit confused and lost as to what to do, scratch the litter with your finger to get their attention, it should work in no time.

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