Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Hi. A mother cat recently abandoned one of her kittens. She’s only 3-4 weeks old. I brought her inside, cleaned her one eye with warm water (it was closed shut). I bought special kitten milk, made her a little liter box, and she has a warm place to sleep. Now what do I do? None of the vets take kittens here. Help, please!
Thomas: Well, Colleen, it sounds like you’re doing everything right so far, so we hope that’s a comfort to you.
Bella: How weird that the vets there won’t take kittens! Maybe they want to wait until she’s a little older so that her immune system is stronger and she’ll be ready for her kitten shots. We’d recommend you keep calling around to find a vet who will look at her.
Tara: Probably the next thing you’re going to want to do is start weaning your new kitten. At this age, they can start eating solid food along with kitten milk. But we’d recommend starting with canned food because she just has tiny little baby teeth now and she may not be able to deal with dry food at this point.
Thomas: Her adult teeth will start coming in around 3-4 months of age and she’ll continue teething until she’s about 7 months old.
Bella: If she persists in having goopy eyes or she starts sneezing or getting snotty, she’s really going to have to see a vet because those are signs of an upper respiratory infection. A vet will be able to help you manage and treat the infection.
Tara: Another thing a vet will do is give your kitten a dewormer. Most kittens and puppies are born with roundworms–they get it from their mothers, typically–and the dewormer will help her grow big and strong because the worms won’t be taking all the nutrition you’re giving her.
Thomas: One other thing: If she gets fleas, don’t use those flea-goop things on her yet. A kitten has to be at least 8 weeks old before using those products or they can be very toxic.
Bella: That’s right. Fleas can be very dangerous for kittens because they’re blood suckers and a cat with a lot of fleas can become anemic.
Tara: Meanwhile, if she does have fleas, you’re going to have to bathe her using a special cat shampoo (and not a flea shampoo) to get the fleas off her. A veterinarian may have an idea what shampoos are safe to use on small kittens.
Thomas: So, Colleen, as we said in the beginning, we’d definitely recommend that you keep calling around to veterinarians. If they won’t take a kitten as young as yours, you can ask them how old a kitten has to be to come to their office.
Bella: Meanwhile, make sure she’s eating well and that you’re starting the process of weaning.
Tara: Best Friends Animal Society has a page on their website with some great instructions on how and when to wean an orphaned kitten. Hopefully that will help you with the process.
Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you had to care for and wean orphaned kittens? Do you have some more tips for Colleen?
Bella: Please share your experiences in the comments!