Orphaned Kitten Zeke
I am going to tell Zeke's story, not because it is typical, but because he is special. Along the way though I will share general knowledge of my experience of raising orphaned kittens during my years of doing cat rescue.
Orphaned Kitten or Adventurer?
When Zeke was found, there was no sign of other orphans. Sure someone could have dropped him near that lady's house, but I think it is more likely that he wandered away from his Mama Cat. It would not be the first time. Some kittens just seem more adventurous even at a very early age. Zeke appeared to be only 14 days old when he was found. Also, he was almost blind which might have contributed to his getting lost. In all the days after he was found, he showed a courageous and daring spirit so my guess is he wandered off exploring the world and lost track of Mama Cat and the rest of the litter. His ears weren't open which helped us age him.
In my experience, it is hard to keep a 14 year old orphaned kitten alive. For one thing, they are often sick and malnourished. Zeke wasn't. Also not all kittens have a strong will to live. Zeke did.
He spent his first few days at another foster home being bottle fed. Then he came to me at what we thought was a full three weeks old. Although the vet had examined him and found him healthy, I was the one who discovered his eyesight wasn't good as other kittens his age and size.
The Kitten with Four Mothers
Orphaned Kitten with Four Mothers
Zeke had four mothers. I had a nursing Siamese mix in one bedroom. Her litter of five beautiful babies was around two weeks older than Zeke. So I knew she might not nurse him....but she did a little. The litter accepted Zeke and especially the girls would lay in a bed with him. I went in the bedroom often and if Zeke was alone, I would bring him out to be in my lap. This is how he got to know my two adult females; Jasmine and Lydia.....they had always accepted kittens and loved him especially when he got old enough to play. Neither my cats nor my Chihuahuas minded Zeke cuddling up to them on the couch. I was always with him so he would not fall of the couch.
Zeke and step litter mates
Zeke Loves Everybody
And everybody loved him. He was really really confident. I don't know for sure if his upbringing mixed him up and he didn't know if he was a Chihuahua, a Siamese, a human or what. But unlike any other cat I have he cuddles up to me on my chest like a baby and can't get enough loving.
Have you ever had an animal of one species adopt another?
Bottle Feeding Zeke
Zeke was a very good eater. For his first weeks he had only formula because he had the ingredients he need to develop a good immune system. He sucked so enthusiastically and so hard I had to open the nipple more. One time he pulled it entirely off. I always fed him until he was full. The next step was to mix formula with wet food.....the Siamese litter was already eating wet food so he ate with them sometimes. Plus it was a linoleum floor and there is nothing messier than a kitten walking through its food. China, the mother Siamese never cleaned him so I was always ready with a damp wash cloth. You never was formula or wet food to dry on a kitten or you are going to have to give it a shampoo. This is something to really avoid when they are very small because they get chilled easily.
Orphaned Kitten Slept Alot
Biggest Threats to Young Kittens
1. Diarrhea and dehydration
4. Getting Chilled
5. You have to help them defecate and urinate by rubbing those areas with damp cloth after they eat
I was so fortunate with Zeke. He was healthy from day one. We gave him a liquid worming medicine right away because all kittens are born with worms. They may have diarrhea the first 24 hours but that should stop. You may even see worms in the feces. We took him to the vet for a good look over and he had first shots on schedule. We could tell that he was behind schedule with his eye sight development and one of the signs was that his eyes stayed blue longer that usual for an orange cat. I feel that his eye sight is still not as good as my other cats because of being orphaned so young. But his eyes turned a beautiful yellow-orange. Besides his eye development he was pretty much on schedule as this article describes.
Formula for Kittens
Litter for Kittens
Warmth for Kittens
KMR liquid....if the kitten is really tiny use an eye dropper other wise use a bottle designed for kittens. Never hold the kitten on its back to bottle feed. They should be in the natural position they would use to nurse.. which is laying with their backs up and their stomach's down. If you hold a kitten on its back to bottle feed, you can aspirate it and kill it.
There are plastic units you can buy to heat in a microwave that come with a fleece that is a washable cover. Please follow directions and remember if it is too hot for you to hold it is way too hot for the kitten. You can also cover the fleece with another layer like a towel. If I was keeping tiny kittens in a plastic bin, I would cover the top most of the way to keep the heat in.
KMR powder you mix with water
Plain clay litter, not clumping and no chemicals or fragrances
You can fill a sock with raw rice and heat it about 1 min in the microwave. This will hold heat and can be put in a box or bin with kittens. Please remember if it is too hot for you to hold, it is too hot for the kittens. I used to cover the kittens' plastic bin with a towel, leaving a little opening. This helped keep the heat in from the sock.
Newspaper pellet litter
Zeke, King of the Household
We know it is highly unlikely that Zeke is part ocicat...a domestic breed....if he were a little bigger and a few more spots (he has plenty) maybe. But what would a purebred cat be doing loose in the country? But one time our vet had a substitute....that substitute said "you know you're right...he does look like the ocicat breed."