I have found a small kitten on the street, what should I do?
Don't panic! If it is possible, try to take that day off from work or call a family member of friend to look after the baby. There are several life-threatening dangers on the street for a kitten, such as weather, the lack of food, predators, people, cars. When you find a small kitten on the street, firstly, you should confirm if the mom is there or the kitten is truly orphaned. Sometimes the mother is temporarily away, searching for something to eat. You should stand away from the kitten, 35 feet or more and wait a few hours (if the weather is cold, consider putting the kitten on a warm blanket, towel or an easily accessible box. Don't wait for hours if the weather is very cold and the kitten's life could be in danger). Try to stay inside or a hidden place until mom comes, otherwise she might going to be scared. The mother cat provides her kittens with the finest chance to survive, so keep an eye on them for as long as you can. Then you can provide shelter and regular food to them. If mum or the kittens are injured or unwell, visit the vet asap or call your local cat rescue centre for immediate help. If the mom does not appear to be returning for any reason, take the kitten(s) home. If you are unable to look after the kitten, please call your local cat rescue for help.
How do I determine age?
If a vet is not available, a kitten’s age can be determined by developmental and behavioral milestones.
Kittens are completely helpless when they are neonatal. Their eyes are closed, their little ears are folded, they can't stand, and they have an attached umbilical cord. They are entirely reliant on their mother (or you) for safety, warmth, and nutrition. Kittens can purr and make distress calls, they spend long hours of their time sleeping and the rest of their time eating.
After 1 week, they are more aware of the environment and starting to interact with one another, but they still need a mom. Their sense of smell is creating, and they will hiss at new and unknown scents or sounds. They're kneading as well, though they can't retract their claws yet.
2-weeks old kittens can completely open their blue eyes, and they can make their first wobbly steps. They still entirely rely on a caregiver, mom, or you. Around 3-4 weeks old, kittens show emerging incisors, canines and unfolded ears. When they develop these baby teeth, they will start eating some soft, solid food. They start to discover litter boxes and with improved vision, they can walk confidently.
Five weeks old kittens show emerging premolars. 6-weeks old kittens emerge all milk teeth, and eat confidently. Reaching 7-weeks age, the kitten's eye colour will transform into adult eye colour. At this age, they are very playful and coordinated. Around 8-weeks old, most kittens eat independently.
It is strongly advised to consult with a vet from time to time if this is your first time nursing a small kitten.
When you have to visit the vet ASAP
Any significant change in stool consistency can indicate a problem. Diarrhea, unusual coloured stool, constipation are all common symptoms associated with diseases in the gastrointestinal tract. Kittens as young as 10-days old can begin deworming treatment; consult a veterinarian for more information.
If the kitten develops signs of sneezing, coughing, nasal discharges, and breathing difficulties, take the kitten to the vet right away. It is also very important to do the routine check-ups, vaccinations, deworming, and flea treatment (if needed) under a veterinarian's control.
Life-threatening anaemia can be caused by fleas on a small kitten. Fleas should be removed with a flea comb. If the flea infestation is severe, you can bath the kitten in warm water using a very small amount of gentle soap especially made for kittens. Avoid the eye area by wrapping a washcloth around the face and thoroughly rinsing it. Make sure to dry them properly after a bath. Flea shampoo or topical flea treatments should not be used on kittens aged 6-weeks or younger. If the infestation is severe, you must also see a vet for treatment and advice.
Provide warm bedding
Kittens are sensitive to cold, which can be fatal. Keep the kittens warm from the moment you find them, and keep an eye on signs of feeling cold. You can also use your body heat to warm up a cold kitten and gently rub it to aid circulation.
Make a soft nest at home with a heating pad completely covered with a blanket or towel. Make it possible for kittens to move away from the heat if they desire. Change the bedding daily, don't let the kitten get wet. If a kitten needs to be cleaned, use a washcloth to clean only certain parts of its body. Use a hairdryer (carefully), and a towel to dry its fur completely.
Nursing should be done by using kitten bottles, and if possible, get elongated nipples because they are relatively easier to use. If you observe the kitten struggling to get the milk out of the bottle, the pinhole on the nipple does need to be larger; alternatively, if the kitten is struggling to keep up with the volume of milk coming out, consider switching the nipple to one with a smaller hole. Cleanliness is essential, sanitize the bottles and clean your hands during each feeding. Never give kittens goat's or cow's milk because it leads to diarrhea. Instead, use kitten milk replacer (KMR), available at most pet shops. When you are switching to solid food, consider buying special kitten food, to make sure they have all the nutrition they need. It is possible to make homemade cat food, but it is always advised to do it with the supervision of a vet to make sure they will have all the nutritions they need.
You must burp kittens while they are eating formulated food. Place them on your shoulder or on their stomachs and gently massage them until they burp. Kittens under four weeks must always be stimulated to go to the bathroom after every feeding. Gently massage the kittens' anal area with a warm, wet cotton ball, tissue, or washcloth to stimulate defecation. While kittens are eating formulated food, solid feces usually do not form. Consult a veterinarian if you notice the kittens are having difficulty urinating or defecating.
You can begin litter training when a kitten is four weeks old. Non-clumping litter should be used in a small, shallow litter pan. Show kittens the litter box and place a used cotton ball inside; this practice is usually sufficient.
If you are struggling or you need advice in anything, please call your vet to receive all the essential informations you need.