As the weather becomes warmer, neighborhoods will start to see tiny fuzz balls darting in and out of bushes and hiding under porches. Unfortunately, kitten mortality rates are usually very high. Many become sick from diseases that are treatable, such as upper respiratory infections (URls), while others may become separated from their mother, giving them little chance of survival.
Please consider becoming a Foster Mom or Dad.
Fostering kittens and hand-raising newborn babies can be an enjoyable
and rewarding experience, and it also frees up valuable shelter space, so more cats can be assisted. Please consider becoming a foster parent. More information on fostering can be obtained below or by contacting the shelter at 501-623-3484.
Fostering a kitten:
Young kittens should be kept in a box lined with absorbent paper towels or pee pads. lt's very important to keep the kittens warm and dry; use a heating pad covered with a towel to keep the kittens between 80 and 90 degrees. You can also include a stuffed animal with the kittens, as the toy may help them feel more comfortable. lf kittens are under five weeks of age and unable to eat solid food, they will need to be bottle-fed with kitten formula every two to four hours. Kittens with difficulty suckling from a bottle can also be syringe-fed. Massage the belly to stimulate digestion, and use a moistened cotton ball or soft tissue to encourage elimination after each feeding. (Use formula or kitten milk replacer whenever possible. Homemade formula made with cow's or goat's milk should only be used in an emergency. Blend eight ounces of milk with three egg yolks, one tbsp. corn oil, and a pinch of salt, and heat until warm to the touch, but not too hot.*) The mother usually cleans the babies during the first few weeks, so you will have to take on this task. Once old enough, most kittens know instinctually to use a litter box; you can also encourage this behavior by placing each kitten in the center of a litter box and using her paw, gently showing her how to dig at the litter. Begin weaning around four weeks old. Mix canned kitten food with kitten formula and hand feed until the kittens are accustomed to eating on their own. Then, gradually change over completely to canned kitten food. Kittens are susceptible to respiratory diseases such as feline herpes virus and calicivirus. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, and nasal and eye discharge. A mild case can be treated by providing a warm environment, cleaning the eye and nose areas, and using a vaporizer. Antibiotics will not help treat URls, which are viral infections, but are sometimes used to combat secondary bacterial infections. Conjunctivitis of the eyes requires constant cleaning with moist, warm cotton balls and application of Terramycin or Chlorasone a few times per day directly in the eyes. lf left untreated, upper respiratory infections can cause severe health problems, including neumonia, blindness, or even death.
lf a kitten needs to be medicated, use liquid medicine in moist food, or crush tablets into baby food (meat flavor only, no garlic ingredients). Whole tablets should not be administered to a feral kitten because it may cause trauma and can undo the taming process. lt also increases the risk of one being bitten.