Robin The Barn Kitten
Robin (The Barn Kitten) Arrives
This is a story lens about our cute kitten Robin who just appeared out of the blue on the last day of Spring 2012.
We had just started to feed our horses one morning at around 6:30 am and as we were putting out the grain I turned to my left and saw this poor little worm ridden kitten looking at me as if to say, where's my breakfast?
My wife turned around from the stall she was cleaning and exclaimed "what a cute little kitty" and the rest as they say was history. We checked around and none of the neighbours would admit to having lost a kitten. So at about 6 to 8 weeks old it seems this kitten had found us and decided we would be good foster parents.
What Do You Do When a Feral Kitten Arrives?
We had no prior knowledge of keeping kittens or cats for that matter, although we had both had cats at home many years earlier. Strangely Shauna my wife had taken to looking at cute kitten websites and had recently downloaded a cute kitten picture as a laptop wallpaper - Be careful what you wish for!
Our next question was the obvious one what do you feed a starving young stray kitten? I gave him a saucer of milk and some bread soaked in it. I was lucky because apparently a large proportion of kittens are lactose intolerant, but this little fellow apparently was not, but still did not appear too impressed.
He survived and ate the milk and bread. Next I did some research and discovered that feral kittens carry round worms often being totally infested, fleas, of which I found two that I picked off with my guitar players long finger nails, and I later discovered ear mites. So it was off to the Feed store for a wormer, food a collar and leash, so we could safely walk him, whilst we were waiting to check him in to the local vet for the necessary shots etc.
The right things to do would be:-
1. Make him a soft bed to lay on an old towel is fine.
2. Set up a kiittie litter - clumping or non-clumping personal preference
3. Get kitten food, which is properly balanced to support his growth
4. Worm, Treat for fleas and get the recommended shots from your vet.
5. Arrange to get your new pet spayed (female) or neutered (male) - at about 6 months of age or as per vet suggestion
6. Love and enjoy!
How Did It Go For Robin?
Initially it appeared to go well, but unfortunately my research only revealed so much about kitten care. We waited to give him the wormer I had bought at the feed store until he seemed adapted to the dry food we had bought at the suggestion of the store. As soon as we gave him the wormer he developed really runny diarrhea, which alarmed us, we thought he was allergic to the food or the water (we have a dug well), which has never affected the horses. He seemed really sick for 2 or 3 days.
I called the vet to arrange for his shots and asked the technicians what they thought, but they did not think it would be the food or the wormer. So we bought a different kitten food to try, to no avail. A week later he had gradually improved (it took 4 days) we saw the vet. The vet said this was the usual reaction of a kitten with a full load of round worms. We wish the product had given an indication of this result. It was a good job Robin is our Barn kitten, though he never once soiled the floor! He is so neat and tidy he always uses his litter box or buries it in a pile of crusher dust we have to maintain our driveways.
The First Requirement to Make The Kitten Healthy
For a really young kitten they are unlikely to have tapeworms, but they are probably full of roundworms often inherited from Mum. Worming needs to be repeated monthly, for outdoor cats. Take veterinary advice if keeping indoors, and in any event just to ensure you cater for any locally known issues affecting cats.
YouTube Video on How To Tell The Sex of a Kitten
This is not as easy as you may think both I and my friend Kirk were wrong with our initial sexing of our new kittens! I had thought that Robin was a female, but he is quite definitely male as was confirmed by this video and later our vet.
Telling What Sex a Kitten is
Who Has a Heart Poll?
What Would You Have Done With a Feral Kitten?
All photographs courtesy of the author and/or my wife Shauna La Pierre taken on my Canon Digital Rebel XSi.
Kitten Care From Amazon
All cats carry fleas and it is vital to control them, young kittens can get so anaemic they can actually die from an uncontrolled flea overload. Cat fleas can and will also bite you!
Young Kittens Need To Be De-flead
For the first few weeks of their life kittens inherit their Mothers immunity to disease and worms etc. However pretty soon after leaving Mum they lose this (around weeks 8 to 12 I believe).
This means that any young feral kitten like Robin quickly gets a load of fleas and worms. They soon need to be given a treatment like this:->
Since writing this lens I have discovered a product called Advantix that will do both the de-flea and worming. It is worth looking for this once a kitten is over 3 months old and separated from Mum. It can not be used earlier as Mum may try to lick it off and it is toxic to the cat. It has to be applied on their neck where they can not reach it.
It is extremely important to feed a new kitten a balanced diet. They are strict carnivores so properly balanced food is important. Left to their own devices cats eat insects, mice, snakes, and birds, which is OK if you live on a farm and can afford the vet bills. Not so much if you are house or apartment bound.
Feeding A Small Kitten
The correct diet is really important for cats as they are totally carnivore and can not tolerate sugars, many cats are also lactose intolerant so they should not be fed cows milk.
Kibble is a balanced cat food but a young kitten needs special kitten food and should not be fed the same food as an adult cat. Just like human babies they should be wened over once they are large enough.
Safely Walking A Kitten
Just like Dogs Kittens and Cats need exercise and because a kitten has lowered immunity it is extremely important that it does not escape until it has had its first jabs and been neutered, which is done about 6th months of age.
If you want to take a young kitten out you should have a leash. Kittens lose their inherited immunity over the first few weeks of life. Feral kittens often die in the period between this and building their own immunity. The leash prevents the kitten getting in trouble until he/she has had all the necessary medications.
What kitten could ignore one of these, a great addition to any kitten home.
Amusing A Kitten
One of the fun things about owning a kitten is that they love to play. I have not found a cat yet that did not love this particular toy.
Once Your Kitten Is Old Enough
If you want to allow your pet it's freedom once it has grown to a safe age then a good cat flap is essential, so here is a selection from Amazon.
I suggest that one that can be locked shut in either direction as well as both at once be acquired as you can then lock the cat in or out. There are definitely times when you might need to.
Most flaps are a security risk if placed in outside doors.
The 2 way locking allows only open or closed. This means that the cat can either come and go or be locked in or out as you prefer. These doors are not as flexible.
If Your Kitten Turns Tubby
There are cat flaps that provide security and also allow for the larger bodied kitty. Robin is still svelte enough at 2 not to need one of these, but if your cat does then they make them large enough for even portly pussies.
This door as the name implies is designed for the more portly cat. It has the 4 way locking system.
The Type Of Flap We Use
Our cat Robin is kept in our stable and he sleeps in the tack room so we only needed a light cat flap. This is the one we chose and it has the 4 way locking system. This system lets you lock him in or out while still letting him go the other way, as well as locked in both ways and fully open.
This is another cat flap with 4 way locking and very similar to the one we use.
Solving The Problem Of Other Cats Using The Flap
All of the flaps mentioned so far have the issue that any cat potentially all of the local ferals could get in and out too.
One of the advantages of having your pet micro chipped is that these can also be detected by modern cat flaps!
I added this one as it is a smart cat door. It will allow only cats with a recognised micro chip to come and go. Clever Huh?
Squid Angel Blessed
Robin As He Grew - Pictures of Robin As He Grew To DateClick thumbnail to view full-size
A place for you to share kitten related comments or plain cat love!