All newborn cats are blind, deaf, unable to control their own body temperature, and dependent on their mother for everything. When born prematurely, puppies need even more care and affection. With commitment and patience, it is possible to raise a healthy premature or newborn kitten if it separates from its mother for any reason.
Part 1 of 3: Making Puppies Comfortable
Step 1. Dry the puppies with a warm, dry washcloth
The mother cat will lick the newborns to remove the placental membrane, which helps to dry the cat and encourages breathing, which is important for premature babies. If the mother cannot do this, dry the kittens carefully using a soft, warm washcloth. Use circular motions to simulate the mother's licks and continue until the hair is dry.
- Keep the kittens together so their body heat builds up and protects them from the cold.
- Premature puppies have a disproportionate size to volume and, therefore, tend to lose body heat quickly. Since they can't control their own temperature, it's important to keep them warm so they don't die.
Step 2. Place the chicks in a dry and warm makeshift nest
Kittens will gather together to stay warm and comfortable, so use a box large enough to accommodate them all. Line it with towels and a hot compress (not too hot, obviously).
Be careful not to touch the hot compress to the puppies, or you may burn their sensitive skin. Place the compress under a few layers of towels so the kittens feel the heat but not hurt themselves
Step 3. Leave the cats umbilical cord
There is no need to cut the cord or remove the remnants of placenta from the kittens' navel. Over time, tissues will dry out and fall out on their own. This normally occurs within the first ten days of life.
Cutting the placenta can cause bleeding, hernia, or navel infections, which can be fatal to the kitten
Step 4. Keep the room temperature between 29°C and 32°C
The premature puppy cannot move away from or approach the heat, so it's up to you to create an environment with the proper temperature. For the first few weeks of life, kittens should maintain a body temperature between 35 °C and 37 °C. For this, the environment must be between 29 °C and 32 °C.
- Lower the temperature to 27°C by the second or third week of the kitten's life. After a few days, the puppy will have more control over his own body temperature.
- Instead of heating the entire house, let the cats in a single room and heat only that room.
- Be sure to warm the nest, either with a hot compress or a bottle of hot water wrapped in a towel. Fill a small bottle with hot water, but be careful that the puppies do not come into direct contact with the bottle so they don't get burned.
- Be careful not to overheat the kittens. You'll know they're overheated if their ears turn red and they feel hot, and they meow from the discomfort. Kittens that are already able to move will try to get away from the heat.
Part 2 of 3: Feeding the Kittens
Step 1. Think carefully and see if it is better to ask a veterinarian or animal shelter for help
Feeding puppies is a complicated and exhausting task. You will need to feed them every hour or two for the first week of their life. Consistent feeding is important to increase the pets' chances of survival.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. It is possible that they can lend a "wet nurse" cat or they can refer a volunteer with experience in nursing newborn puppies. Some NGOs may even provide you with the supplies you need to take care of the cats, free of charge
Step 2. Get milk for the cats if the mother is not available
Puppies can only digest cat's milk; if the mother has abandoned them, you will need to feed them a substitute. Cow's milk is not suitable as it contains lactose, which cannot be digested by many cats and can cause diarrhea. In an emergency, you can use goat's milk to prevent the offspring from dehydrating.
- You can buy powdered cat milk online or at pet stores. It is a formula that exactly reproduces the balance of fats, proteins and vitamins in cat milk. Just mix the powder with boiled water and wait for it to cool down before giving it to the cats.
- Make the milk for one-time use. Do not prepare milk for the entire day, or bacteria may grow in it.
Step 3. Prepare the cat's environment and food
It is important that they are warm as the cold will prevent them from digesting the milk and will make them sick. Prepare enough milk for one meal and place it in a sterilized bottle. If possible, buy special bottles for premature cats, as they are the ideal size and are easier to use.
A premature kitten has a lot in common with a cold-blooded animal. If the environment is cold, it will not be able to generate enough temperatures for the digestive enzymes to work
Step 4. Place the cat on its stomach when feeding it
Place the kitten face down, as it would look when suckling the mother cat. Put a drop of milk in the nipple of the bottle and touch the cat's lips to make it start to suckle. If he doesn't do anything, gently poke his head and back. As soon as he makes a sucking noise, offer the bottle again.
Allow the puppy to nurse until its belly is rounded, but not swollen or stiff. To check, see if his tummy is a little bigger than his rib cage; in this case, a sign that he ate enough. Many cats sleep nursing when their belly is full. If this happens, remove the beak from its mouth and return it to the nest
Step 5. Burp the puppies after the bottle
It is important that they burp so that there is no accumulation of gases. To do this, put the pet on your shoulder and pat it lightly on the back until you hear a burp.
Use a damp washcloth to wipe milk grime from the kitten's mouth
Step 6. If possible, have the puppies receive colostrum from the mother
After giving birth, the cat mother produces a special milk called colostrum, which is rich in antibodies. It is an immune complex that helps protect cats from diseases encountered by the mother, such as a vaccine. Colostrum strengthens puppies and can increase their chances of survival.
Colostrum is also rich in vitamins and minerals needed for normal cat development
Step 7. Help the kittens to suckle from their mother, if necessary
A strong puppy will attach to the mother's nipple and start to suckle, but weaker puppies may need help. To do this, drop a drop of milk or colostrum from the nipple and touch the cat's mouth to encourage it to breastfeed.
- The rear nipples usually produce more milk. When removing the colostrum, place your index finger and thumb behind a back nipple and, with gentle, gentle movements, extract some milk.
- Make sure cats are feeding frequently. Premature offspring are completely dependent on breast milk for nutrition. It is important that they breastfeed every hour or two.
Part 3 of 3: Keeping Kittens Health
Step 1. Stick to a healthy and breastfeeding schedule
Premature puppies have tiny stomachs that can only accommodate a small amount of milk, which is why they need to nurse several times a day. The cat will nurse for five to ten minutes every two hours - night and day. To raise kittens, you can't ignore it! Feed the cat consistently for the first few weeks of his life. A good schedule to follow:
- 1-3 days of age - serve 2.5 ml of milk replacer every one to two hours;
- 4-7 days of age - serve 2.5 ml to 5 ml of milk replacer every two hours;
- 6-10 days of age - serve 5 ml to 7.5 ml of milk replacer every two to three hours;
- 11-14 days of age - serve 10 ml to 12.5 ml of milk replacer every three hours;
- 15-21 days of age - serve 10 ml of milk replacer every three hours;
- 21-41 days of age - Serve 12, 5 ml to 25 ml of milk replacer every six to eight hours, in addition to a regular diet.
To find out if the puppy is still hungry, observe its behavior. A hungry kitten will cry and try to find the nipple of the bottle
Step 2. Use a syringe to feed non-nursing cats
Some preterm kittens do not have a good sucking reflex and are unable to nurse from the mother cat or the bottle. If this is the case with one of the puppies, open his mouth with the tip of a finger and, with a syringe loaded with milk replacer, drop one drop at a time onto his tongue. Let him swallow the gout to trigger the swallow reflex.
Patience is very important as it is a process that cannot be rushed. Never drip too many drops at once, or you could cause the cat to choke and even drown in the milk
Step 3. Encourage the kitten to need to
Until the third week of life, puppies are not able to empty their bladder and intestines on their own, holding their will until the hand licks the anus and genital region to stimulate evacuation. You must manually stimulate this reflex with moistened cotton balls. The process is as follows:
- Pass a cotton ball dipped in warm water on the kitten's backside.
- As you do this, the puppy must urinate and defecate on the cotton.
- After he's done the necessities, dispose of the cotton.
- Repeat the process if necessary.
- Dry the kitten with a clean washcloth before returning it to the nest.
- Repeat the process three to four times a day, washing your hands after each time. Kittens must defecate once a day and urinate at least four times. If they do not urinate on every cotton pass, a sign that they are not getting enough water.
Step 4. Keep cats in a clean environment
If exposed to germs, puppies can get sick and even die. Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling kittens. If possible, keep a clean T-shirt nearby to wear over your clothes before handling the kittens to reduce the risk of contamination.
- Sterilize all bottles and teats between uses to reduce the risk of infection. Use products that are used for the sterilization of baby bottles even. If you have access to a steam sterilizer, even better.
- Change the nest lining every day. Kittens can sometimes defecate or vomit, which is why it's a good idea to change the liner often.
The gestation period for cats is 63 to 69 days; any offspring born less than 63 days is considered premature. Premature kittens usually weigh less than 90 grams, have little fur and look smaller than newborns
- Raising premature kittens is tricky, but it's rewarding. Strive, but don't be disappointed if you lose a puppy in the process. If you don't believe in your ability to take good care of puppies, contact a veterinarian or animal shelter.
- Do not immerse the newborn puppy in water. If it gets dirty, wipe it off with a towel dampened in hot water and immediately dry it with a dry towel.