Stray Cats, Abandoned Kittens...There is hope for the underdog!
It all started 3 years ago when I moved into my house. It all started with 1 stray cat, probably left by an owner that moved...he was friendly, a little beaten up but so loving. He would come to get his ears scratched a little, even before going to get the food I put out for him. Because of his rough and tumble appearance, his square build and the occasional scratch on the nose, I called him Rocky!!! In the last few years about 30 cats have come and gone in my backyard, and I raised 12 kittens myself, 4 of whom I kept...This article is about how I fed them, some tricks and some results.
I took some of the original group in because their mother could not care for them. As is often the case with feral cats, the strong will survive but some are left behind. My first group of 5, some of which I have kept, are old enough to eat by themselves and starving enough to lick my finger when I introduced canned food. Some of the others had to be bottle feed and that even worked out quite well. Although there are commercial formulas on the market, my kittens never cared for them very much. Here is the recipe that helped my dozen kittens to thrive, it was given to me by a vet:
4 oz. of evaporated milk (Carnation)
4 oz. of boiled water
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. corn syrup
They certainly never minded the taste and my own 4 boys are now over 2 years old, healthy and very smart!!! Never feed cow's milk or whole eggs as kittens cannot digest those properly and lead to deficiencies later on. The milk formula should be made fresh in small quantities and refrigerated between meals. You can warm it up a touch for feeding. Small bottles are available at pet store.
Minor health problems can include eye infections as they are common with stray kittens and unless they are a sign of feline herpes they are very treatable and not recurring as the cat ages. You can gently clean the eyes and in a short time the problem should go away. A visit to your vet is recommended to check ears, eyes and general health of your kitten.
Handling young kittens
The first kittens I found were in my basement and left behind when the mother went elsewhere, I believe she originally had 6 kittens. I heard them crying for a day or so, before I realized that the mother would not come back for them. They were small and dehydrated and they would be known as Puffy, Spot and Penny...I also quickly realized that Penny was a male and she/he got renamed Benny!!! They were old enough to eat can food, slightly warmed up with a touch of that formula milk to make it easier for them to take. I gave them a small corner and lots of blankets so they could keep warm. They quickly thrived. From that spring to late fall I found some more, starting to believe that my neighbours were bringing me strays to look after!!!
When looking after the very young kitten you have to take over some of the essential and lifesaving care that a mother cat would provide. The kitten will not urinate by itself until it is old enough, in the mean time you have to take a wet tissue and wash over his behind to stimulate the urination. If this is not done the kitten could have serious health problems. With small kittens you might need to use a plastic syringe to give the initial introduction to the milk, it is smaller for them to handle and will at least give them some nourishment. The litter training will come somewhat latter in the exercise but given the proper size of the litter box it seems to come very naturally to them.