How to rescue an abandoned litter of kittens

Rescuing an abandoned litter of kittens

What should you do if you find an abandoned litter of kittens?

Firstly, please note a litter may seem abandoned, but the mother may still return periodically to feed them.

It’s a sad fact, but the number of litters being abandoned has increased in Australia. The number of stray cats has increased, and even families with free-roaming cats may not prevent their cat becoming pregnant or having a litter in an unknown place.

Fortunately there are many people who discover abandoned kittens and happily accept them into their homes to grow and recuperate, or get them to a shelter who can care for them.

If you happen to find yourself in possession of abandoned kittens, there are many ways in which you can help them become healthy, and potentially become cherished members of your family or someone else’s.

Related: A guide to adopting a rescue cat.

What should you do if you find an abandoned litter?

If we find a litter of kittens which looks to be abandoned, our first thought is usually to take them home.

But be careful. There’s a strong possibility the kittens have not actually been abandoned by their mother. The mother cat may return for regular feedings, so if the kittens seem active and hungry, watch for a while to see if the mother returns.

If the mother cat does not return then taking in the kittens may be their last chance of survival. Alternatively you can call the local cat rescue centre or RSPCA who will come and collect the litter.

An important consideration is whether the kittens may be rabid. If there are any signs of disease your best option is to call the rescue center or animal control.

If the kittens are very young, you will also want to consider the fact that hand rearing, although successful in some cases, does not work all the time. If you are an incredibly sensitive person you will want to be aware of the potentially devastating emotional effect it will have on you if a kitten doesn’t respond well.

If you are sure you want to commit to rescuing the kittens, then proceed. If you are not sure that you can handle the situation then contact a veterinarian, a shelter, or a rescue who will take it from there.

What should you do if the kittens are very young?

If the kittens are under 2 weeks old they will be unable to urinate or eliminate faeces by themselves. Prepare yourself for this, as in order to help the kittens thrive and survive you will need to use a warm cloth to simulate the mother cat licking their rear.

Without doing this it is unlike these young kittens will survive.

Feeding abandoned kittens

If the kittens are still too young for solid food you will need to hand feed them in approximate intervals of every 6 to 7 hours. This can mean waking up during the night to feed the kittens.

Thanks to the demand for these products, there are a number of kitten milk formulas available. You cannot just use cows milk as it will not meet the kittens requirements, you will want to purchase a milk specially designed to meet the kittens needs in order to see them grow healthily.

Please note it is vital you choose a cat milk replacer which is formulated to support kitten growth. Many cat milk products fall under the “treat” category and may potentially lead to the premature death of the litter. Wombaroo Cat Milk replacer is a very good option, available from Pet Circle here.

Adopting a rescue kitten
Jack and Bolo – Two beautiful rescued kittens!

You will want to use a bottle with a nipple that you have cut an x in the tip of. If you have a hard time finding a small enough setup, you will want to contact your vet as they may have exactly what you need.

In the past people have used eye droppers for this same purpose. However, with an eye dropper you run the risk of introducing milk into the kittens lungs, and this can lead to complications or even pneumonia.

If your kittens are older and can eat solid foods, you will have no problem finding cat foods which are specially designed to meet the nutritional needs of young cats. It will be less difficult to care for older kittens and they are far more likely to survive the rescue with little effort.

The best resource for choosing the right food to feed a kitten is Pet Food Reviews which offers insight into ingredients, nutrition, and how appropriate a food may be for a kitten as a carnivorous animal.

Rescuing kittens is noble – you’re saving lives!

Rescuing kittens is a noble thing to do. Cats have became so plentiful that in many cases when people cannot care for or re-home unwanted kittens, the kittens are discarded roadside or dropped somewhere else.

This is a sad situation but there are thankfully many good hearted people out there working to save as many kittens as possible.

If you come across abandoned kittens, at the very least contact someone who can get them the aid and care they both need, and deserve.

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