Kitten Tips and Tricks
----- Over the years, we have picked up a number of tricks to help in the kittening process. Some of these, came from books, other breeders, and luck or depseration.
----- When kittens are around 3-31/2 weeks old, they should be exposed to LITTER! Use only pure clay litter with no additives and not clumping type. Since little kittens often try to eat litter, you do not want cement within! Use a small plastic houshold container about one inch high and cover the bottom with litter(about 1/4 inch). They will get the idea very quickly!
----- At around 4 weeks old, we use a mixture of evaporated milk mixed 75%-25% water and a little Enervite paste mixed with a little baby food rice cereal and a little wet cat food mixed in to acclimate them to the taste. Use a spoon to bring them to the mixture and they usually will quickly get the idea. This is done sooner if the mother has too many kittens or too little milk. Later for small litters when the mother has a good supply of milk.
----- Kittens at birth, are confined to a small cage with a box in it which sits on an electric blanket. Our kittening cages have two levels, a lower one for the kittens and an upper level for the Mother's litter box, food, and water. These cages are white masonite which can be easily cleaned and sanitized. Covered with a cloth, the temperature is kept around 90 degrees for the first week. The temperature is gradually decreased after that to around 70 degrees at the fourth week. At this point, they are moved to the kitten room where they can move around more. The litter for them is increased to a 1 1/2 inch high plant tray for a litter box.
----- Isolation of kittens from the general population is always a good idea for as long as possible, generally about 9 weeks. They should receive their first set of shots at this point and about 2 days later, they can be introduced gradually to the others in the house.
----- Kittens should receive only two sets of shots. We use a FelineV type at 9 and 12 weeks. We advocate these, Rabies at 4 months or a little later unless the kittens will be leaving earlier (never before 3 months), and boosters at one year. Recently, Vets are beginning to see that over vaccinated animals are developing cancers at the shot areas. We have never liked over vaccination and recommend every two years for boosters after the first year, and Rabies every 3 years after the 1 year shot. Rabies should be intra muscular in the leg while regular shots should be varies in scruff from left to right.
Extreme Cases & Problems
----- Fading Kittens: This is one of the worst problems. A small digital scale is used to measure kittens from day one and a log is kept. If a kitten does not gain weight immediately, they are checked every few hours. If they seem to suckle, mom has milk, but they still do not gain, we start them on Amoxycillian immediately. Very small doses several times a day. This should have results within 24 hours. Keep them warm. If this doesn't work, I use small amounts of Terramycine eye ointment placed in the mouth. Since this is not a common antibiotic, they usually will respond to this. Most felines have not developed an immunity to this one.
----- Kitten Shut Down: This sometimes occurs several days or even weeks after everything appears normal in the beginning. They stop gaining weight, kidneys stop functioning, and they just don't eat. Immediatly start them on Amoxy as above. If you have used this in the cattery too often over the years if animals have an upper respiratory, (this should not be used for a viral infection like this), then you must use something else as many of the animals may have developed an immunity. At this point we would try one of the antibiotic eye ointments. Supplement with a warm milk supplement. Avoid powdered milk types. Weak kittens cannot digest this powder and will constipate if it is used.
----- Last ditch effort: If nothing works, we have successfully used CEFTIN, an antibiotic used to treat pneumonia in humans. We take 1/6th of a 500mg. tablet (about 85 mg.), mix it with about one inch of Enervite supplement paste to kill the bitter taste, and add warm water. This will make about 15ml. of antibiotic. We make it in an Amoxy bottle with eyedropper. 1/2 of a dropper once every 12 hours (three times) and then once a day for 10 days. This has pulled several full shut-downs from the brink!
----- Formula for fostering: There are several commercial products available but we do not recommend a powdered mix for very young kittens. They just do not seem to digest this stuff properly. Stick to the canned mix if you must use commercial.
----- The Best: If you have access to a local goat farm, Raw Goats milk works well. You can add a little raw honey, goat milk whey, and even an Enervite supplement (low Iron) or a little powdered baby formula (low iron, SOY) to the mix. Cut it with water until they will accept it and gradually decrease the amount of water. Too much iron will cause small kittens to constipate and you don't want this. If this occurs, add some Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the formula. This is one of the most digestible oils and it has a lot of calories as well!
----- Not too bad: Evaporated milk, Raw Honey or clear Cayro Syrup, Enervite paste, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The milk should be cut about 25% with water. For the very young, start at about 50%. Around week two, you can add some SOY baby powdered supplement to the mix. A small amount of Peanut Oil can be used. Avoid using animal fats or Palm or general cooking oils as this stuff does not digest well. Never use a Homogynized product as their digestive systems cannot handle this at all!
----- Kittens that are fostered should be kept warmer, longer, that normal breast fed kittens. This keeps their metabolic rate up and helps in the digestion of the strange formulas they are given. Listen for any sign of WEEZING. A raspy breathing could mean you got some formula into the lungs. Antibiotic should be given immediately to ensure that you have no problems.
----- Fostered kittens have to be fed about every TWO hours. This is a bitch to say the least. After two weeks this can be stretched a little. To save your sanity, try to introduce them to a food faster than normal. Milk mixture with a baby food mixed in or a little puree cat food can be fed by spoon at first and the spoon brought down to a small flat dish or coaster. They will soon get the idea.
----- I hope that some of the above tips can help someone out of a difficult kittening. I know that they have helped us over the years!
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