Scott has told me I need to do a write up on how to grow a kitten properly. Imagine me, in overalls with a watering can in my hands, standing over a patch of grass, watering kittens. Silly sight I know.
I can't tell you how to raise a kitten, they are all different. I can tell you how to grow one. *I've been in veterinary medicine for 8 years, and countless kittens have crossed my path for some extra TLC and that small boost they need before a home.*
Scott and I have raised some wonderful kittens and in the process lost many. The ones we have lost were due to some mysterious illness and the kitty just never woke up. The ones we have raised are either with us, or in a good home that I have picked out. * I am VERY picky about that-not just ANYONE will do.*
You only need a few supplies for a Chia-kitten. I am assuming you are growing a kitten from either moment one (brand spankin new!) OR a kitten that is less than 3 weeks old.
- You need TIME. If you don't have time to STOP every 2 hours, this means even during the night, then you don't need to take care of such a small kitten.
- You need PATIENCE. If you do not have the patience for such a small wonder, then don't do it. You need the patience to observe their attitude, body language,is it going potty? Is it eating? ect... *starting to sound a bit hard right?, well it is. No one said it was easy.*
- Be prepared to take that kitten EVERYWHERE! Especially if it is less than 3 weeks old. Coconut lived in a leather backpack for 3
months. We took her everywhere! Coconut has been to nice restaurants, biking, checking out the Cherry Blossoms in DC at 3 days old, even to an ice skating show in Baltimore.
- A quick note on how to keep this kitten warm! -Get a men's tube sock, and a condom (unlubed!) Fill the condom with water to the consistency of a floppy water balloon, tie off the one end and put it in the sock. Warm it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds at a time until warm *not HOT! you don't want to burn your kitten if the latex weakens and breaks.* You can line the bottom of your nap sack with them *this will keep the kitten warm for 3 hours at a time*. Make sure you have a small stuffed animal in there with the kitten in case it does get too warm, it has a place to escape on the stuffed animal- PLUS this give the kitten an extra 'mom'. Keeping a small kitten warm is VERY important. DO NOT use a heating pad. This will almost always guarantee an overheated kitten. You just want something warm for it to snuggle up to. They even make these really cool Surrogate Mom stuffed animals now in the shapes of cats and dogs that even come with an artificial heartbeat. * I have 3 of these*
- Kittens less than 3 weeks old need to be told to go potty. This means you rub their special little spots *gently! Rub how you would want to be rubbed! Do not rub the kitties special spots off!* A rule of thumb with kittens is that you make them potty after eating, and after lots of stimulation *ie)playing, lots of petting, ect) A kitten should potty every 2 hours *mostly urinate, expect kitten poop at least 2-3 times a day* Yes- kittens CAN get constipated and have ugly boughts of diarrhea. TAKE THEM TO THE VET IF THIS HAPPENS!- ask for a kitten enema with warm water and ky lube if it is constipated or some VETASYL fiber tabs(or some other magic potion) if it is having bad diarrhea. *remember, fiber works both ways* Items to use for the potty break are : warm wet washcloth,or a cotton round (nice and soft! AHH!!!) Please email me if you want a more detailed way on getting a small kitten to potty properly
- Feed your kitten GREAT foods. If you need to bottle feed your kitten, take special care that you do not hold the kitten like a baby when you feed it. Cats DON'T like to be on their backs to eat. Hold the kitten upright. If you don't, they risk aspirating the kitten formula and getting aspirate pneumonia or worse. A good formula to start any kitten off with is KMR. Easy to mix. I highly recommend the powder mix vs. the already made *lasts longer* Let your kitten eat as much as it wants! It will tell you when it is done. Kittens less than 3 weeks old on the average should eat 6-8 times a day
- If your kitten does accidentally aspirate some of its milk, IMMEDIATELY turn it upside down so its head is pointing to the floor! Let gravity drain it out. You may even want to do the "kitten flick" Which is : sandwich kitten with a good firm grip in both hands(make sure the head is STABLE!), raise kitten to ceiling and with a firm flick, bring the kitten toward the floor. Do this only once or twice. This will bring the milk up faster from the lungs. The cat will tell you it can breath by showing utter distaste for what is happening to it. *it will YELL at you*
- You can start to wean your kitten to normal food at about 4 weeks old. Just be sure to use a Second Stage formula (KMR makes one) and mix it with its new food. This will gradually introduce the kitten to its new food. Not only will it make the transition easier, but it lessens the chance of gastrointestinal upset. One of the best items to use to get a kitten used to a new food is Gerber turkey baby food. *DO NOT get the baby food mixed with vegetables! its a carnivore not an omnivore* You can also used canned kitten food - a good one! Not some grocery store crap. Remember, you are growing that prized one of a kind roses, not a weed.
- You CAN start to teach good litter habits at 3 weeks old. Accidents will happen, just accept it. Start with a small litter pan, (disposable cookie sheet or a ferret pan)this allows the kitten to get in and out easy. Scratch the kittens feet in the litter! Make it fun. The more you put the kitten in the litter, the more instinct will kick in and the cat will eventually get the hang of it. Start with whatever kind of litter you plan to stick with.
Raising a kitten is not rocket science. It is trial and error. Bad things can and do happen. Pour as much TLC into that kitten as you want, but do expect some kittens not to make it. Especially the very sick ones. If they do pull through *and many do!* you did your job. If it doesn't, then it just wasn't meant to be for that kitten.
Scott and I have lost several kittens. Each time it was a harsh slap in the face to us. We thought we were doing something wrong. Each time we found out something was very wrong with our kitten.
Make a very good relationship with your veterinarian and their technical staff. They are there to help make sure you are doing everything correctly and answer any questions you may have.
Each time I look at Coconut, I see many other kittens we grew and found homes for, or ones that did not make it *like Panda*. My Coconut was the best challenge we have had yet. She is our C-section baby. Never knew her kitty mom. We are Mom. *we may be very large and naked, but we are Mom* I feel good when I look at Coconut. I feel good when I look at her baby pictures in the hallway.*yes! We have baby piccies! One of which is published. She is 3 hours old in that photo and is smaller than the palm of my hand* Now I look at a 13 pound cat, that looks exactly the same way she did as a kitten, but much bigger.
In NO way is this article ANY substitute for veterinary medical advice. It is only advice from personal experience
If you do have ANY questions or comments, feel free to contact me.