Initial Warmth and Care

Kittens chill quickly – keep them warm

  • If a rescued kitten feels cold, it must be warmed immediately but carefully. Place it on a heating pad set at the lowest setting. Wrap the heating pad in towels. A warm hot water bottle (about 100 degrees) wrapped in a towel and placed with the kitten will work. You can also take a cold kitten directly to your vet. He may have an incubator to warm the chilled kitten.
  • Do not feed a kitten until it is warm. It cannot properly digest food when cold. However, you can syringe feed a few drops of 5% sugar water or rub a little bit of Karo syrup on the kitten’s lips.
  • Kittens under 3 weeks cannot control their body temperature. Keep on a heating pad, set on low, wrapped in at least 2 layers of towels to cover the pad. If it’s too hot, the kittens will try to sleep on the edges. Heating pad should be used until the kittens are about 4-5 weeks old or until you notice they are avoiding it.
  • Keep kittens in a box or cat carrier in a warm, draft-free place. Cover container with a towel to make them even cozier. Change bedding often because they do have accidents! Kitten skin is very sensitive. Enlarge their space as they grow, but keep them warm and cozy. A small bathroom is fine as they grow and need more exercise.

Isolate these kittens completely from other animals.

  • Get the kittens to your vet just as soon as possible. He will check for dehydration and their general condition. Bring a stool sample if possible to test for worms and parasites. Kittens become dehydrated very quickly and are at risk. A dose of fluids injected under the skin (subcutaneously) is necessary if this occurs. Your vet will be happy to show you how to do this. It’s not as terrible as it sounds and will save the kitten’s life.
  • Many vets will offer you a free courtesy visit if you tell them that this is a rescued kitten you are fostering. Their staff can give you advice and supplies as you need them. This is very important! You can also contact your local shelter or rescue group and ask if you can become a “foster parent” through their organization as you raise the kitten. Many of these organizations help cover the cost of raising the kittens if you are planning to put them up for adoption when they are old enough.
  • If you are planning to keep your rescued kitten, try to find a “foster” momcat who is still nursing. Your local animal shelter or rescue organization may be able to help you with this. It is crucial that a kitten gets immunity against disease that only a mother cat’s milk can provide. This immunity lasts until they are 6-14 weeks old and makes for a much healthier kitten.
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