Every so often you may find it necessary to take the place of the mother cat to care for the kitten. This could be due to several different scenarios. First off, the mother cat, for what ever reason may die. This could possibly leave several kittens motherless. Sometimes the mother cat will abandon a newborn for several different reasons. She could be sick herself and unable to attend to the kittens. She could have given birth of too many kitties or the abandoned kitten may be sick and the mother cat, also referred to as the queen, will not take care of it. Or worst, someone may have dumped the kittens and left them to die. Sad but it does happen all to often.
It is very important for the new born kittens to be warm and dry. A chilled kitten will die very quickly. Holding the kitten next to you will give it some warmth. You can use a heating pad on low, or a heat lamp if you use caution. Make sure the kitten has plenty of room to crawl away from the heat source, being it will overheat as well. A cardboard box with old towels will work fine. Do not try to feed a chilled kitten, this is very dangerous. A newborns normal temperature should be between 95°F and 99°F before trying to feed it. To avoid metabolic shock the kittens temperature should not drop below 94°F.
Take a few minutes after the kitten is warm to look at it and check for several different signs of sickness. Are the eyes clear and alert or do they have pus in them or mattered together. Does the ears look okay? Is it flea infested? Is the kitten active and moving around? If the kitten does not look or act alright, chances are it needs a vet. If this is not your kitten and is just a stray you found, and you do not want to take responsibility, please take a few minutes and call your local shelter. Someone will pick up the abandoned kittens and see that they are either taken care of or put out of their misery.
If this is not your kitten and you do plan to take responsibility, good for you. Next you need to hydrate the kitten. Some pedialyte, the same as given to human children and babies will hydrate the kitten and keep it from going into shock. From the pet stores you will need K.M.R. or the equivalent. Do not use cow or any other type milk. Using an eye-dropper, syringe or a bottle you will need to feed the newborn kitten as many as 12 meals around the clock. Just like a human baby the kitten will want to eat during the night. Instructions on the box of K.M.R. will be very helpful for feeding by the weight of the kitten.
The new born kitten can not voluntarily eliminate feces or urine until around the age of three weeks. They will need to be stimulated by external means. The mother cat will take care of this if she is there, but if not the caregiver will have to help. Very simply, with a warm cloth or cotton ball gently rub to stimulate the urogenital reflex after every feeding and swab the perineal area. Also remember to wipe over the entire kitten to promote and ensure cleanliness. After about three weeks you can start the process of moving the kitten to a solid diet from a dish. Using the K.M.R. and making a milkshake or mush mixture out of the canned or dry kitten food will be a good way to start. Just be sure to use the kitten food and not the adult cat food. You may have to get a little creative in tempting the kitten to start eating. Perhaps with the kitten right at the dish of food, you dip a little on your finger and let the kitten eat it off your finger. As the kitten learns to eat, you can reduce the amount of K.M.R. Kittens will generally eat four or five smaller meals per day. Try not to leave the canned kitten food out in the dish. The canned food will spoil fast. Keep unused portions covered in the refrigerator and can be warmed in the microwave for a few seconds before feeding. Be sure and check that the food is not too hot.