Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My boyfriend and I were driving around at 1:00am when we spotted a kitten on the roadside next to a field (no houses around). When we stopped the car I could see the kitten was very small, maybe 4 weeks old at the most, and he was eating a slug. I managed to capture the very shy and aggressive kitten, and brought him home, where I have one adult (1 year) cat. I gave the kitten a separate room and fed him, gave him a bed and plenty of water. At first he wouldn’t come out from underneath a bookshelf, but after smelling the food, he came out and ate everything and drank some water. I left him alone overnight in the room. The next morning I fed him again and introduced my cat, with some hissing from both sides at first, but now they are calm and the kitten rubs against my cat. My cat plays a little rough at times, but licks the kitten and seems to show him how to use things. The kitten follows my cat everywhere he can, and now purrs and rubs against me when I stroke him. He is eating often, drinking, and now using the litter box regularly. He is very very thin and was very dirty; I’ve given him a little wash. My problem is that he lays in bed 80% of the day even when he’s not sleeping, and I haven’t seen him play yet. Is this normal? He also licks his lips quite often. Is this enough concern for a vet visit? It’s very difficult for me to take time from work as a head chef, but I have an appointment for him in 2 weeks’ time. Do you have some advice on how to take care of such a young homeless kitten?
Thomas: First of all, thank you so much for rescuing a tiny kitten in need, Siobhan — that was an awesome thing for you and your boyfriend to do!
Bella: It sounds like you’re doing a lot of the right things in that you fed the kitten, gave him his own room and introduced him to your resident cat.
Thomas: We should point out here that we’re referring to the kitten as “him” even though Siobhan is not sure what sex he is, just to make life easier for ourselves and avoid calling a living being “it.”
Bella: We do, however, think you should take the little one to the vet as soon as you can.
Thomas: We get concerned about things like the possible spread of disease or parasites because the little guy hasn’t had his shots yet and almost every kitten has worms.
Bella: Also, it is kind of odd that the little one is sleeping so much.
Thomas: It may be that the poor little thing has been so undernourished that he just doesn’t have the energy to play yet, but it’s still a good reason to take him to the vet.
Bella: With kittens as young as the little one, we recommend adding some kitten milk replacer to his diet. This will give him the nutrients he needs because he’s probably not old enough to be weaned and should still be nursing from his mama.
Thomas: He should also get kitten food rather than adult cat food. Again, kitten food has more calories and is more nutrient-dense, which is important for a growing kitten!
Bella: Your vet will also be able to tell you how to care for him and make sure he grows up to be big and strong.
Thomas: The vet will also be able to tell you whether you have a little boy or a little girl on your hands, about how old said he is, and give you an idea when the kitten should be spayed or neutered.
Bella: Sheltermedicine.com has some great information about raising orphaned kittens, which you can find here. We recommend you check it out because you might find it helpful.
Thomas: I know we’ve got some “professional” kitten fosterers among our readers. What advice do you have for Siobhan? Please share it in the comments!