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Preemie orphans  

post #1 of 83
Thread Starter 
Wednesday morning the vet that cares for the animals at my work had an emergency call. A mother cat had been run over. She died during surgery but he was able to do a c section, delivering 7 premature kittens. He gave them to Me to care for. Unfortunately 5 have passed on. I have 2. They are meowing(well, squeaking!) eating, pooping, etc. They are on kitten formula with some water mixed in. They are on a heating pad and being fed every 1-2 hours. I have high hopes but after losing 5 already I'm trying to be realistic. Does anyone have any suggestions or insight of the likelyhood of their survival? I've never cared for preemies before.
post #2 of 83
Preemie kittens rarely survive frown.gif. Their in-utero development isn't done until right before they're born (unlike humans, who have a great deal of superfluous time in the womb to increase survival rates), so even a day or two early can mean they're not fully developed. But it is encouraging that they've made it this long---maybe they were about to be born.

Here's a good site for raising orphans:
post #3 of 83
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your response! The two left are starting to pur. They're eating 2ML every hour now then sleeping. When they're hungry they are able to crawl around and hold their heads up so that's giving me hope.
Tomorrow morning at 8 will make it a full 72 hours for them! I hope they pull through. Maybe they were almost ready to be born.
post #4 of 83
That sounds encouraging.
What were their birth weights and what are their current weights?
Did they have fur when they were born?
Are they able to nurse on their own , or are you tube feeding?
From what you describe about them now, it sounds like they may have been within a day of being born when their poor mom was run over.

A big risk for premature kittens ( or bottle fed kittens in general) is aspiration pneumonia . so it's important to make sure
> that kittens are fed in the correct position which you probably know, but it is back upward, not stomach upward. and the front part of their body can be a little raised , like it normally is when very young kittens are nursing from their mother who is lying down.
> and that not too much formula goes in too fast,
> and that you don't feed too much per feeding which makes it more likely for reflux to happen and they may then aspirate some of it into the lungs. and just a tiny bit can cause an infection that is very hard for a kitten to fight off. If they are under 60 grams, I would not even feed 2 ml at a time. but about 1.5 every hour to 1.5 hours.
I actually know someone who has given an antibiotic to premature kittens more as a preventative but obviously that is something to discuss with the vet.

Another idea- you may want to replace half of the water you are using to mix with the formula with unflavored Pedialyte, or use the homemade Pedialyte recipe on the site. but thats another thing to discuss with the vet .

I would start the vaccinations as early as possible (usually 6 weeks is the earliest) since they are not sharing their mom's immunity.
You will have to be extra careful about avoiding infection since they did not get any colostrum in the first day. ( unless the vet had another queen there who had just given birth within a couple days and allowed these kittens to nurse. or he may have given some colostrum substitute. but that is usually not real cat colostrum and does not work as well. )

Wash hands very well before handling them, make sure the room is very cleaned and take off your shoes before going in. You may want to keep a robe or something in the room with the kittens and put that on before feeding, just in case they could get germs from your clothes. especially if you are around other animals.

It is very hard to keep premature kittens alive, as Willowy said. so it is not surprising you lost some of them. at least you were giving them some love and enjoyment. I hope these 2 will make it.
post #5 of 83
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the feed back. That really helps! Unfortunately the little girl is not doing so well. She's refused to eat the past two feelings and seems to have diarrhea. It looks like she has started regurgitating her food too. I'm not sure what their weight was or is but they do have fur everywhere but their legs. The little boy is still doing great. He is nursing on his own, having full BMs at least once a day. He even started purring last night! If his sister dies will this have a negative affect on him?
post #6 of 83
Thread Starter 

This is the little boy. His name is Brother. I dot want to become too attached by formally naming him but I wanted to call him something.
post #7 of 83
Thread Starter 

Brother and Sister
post #8 of 83

 there adorable saying a prayer for you and your babies 

post #9 of 83
It would REALLY be a good idea to get a scale that weighs in grams / fractions of an ounce, and weigh daily at about the same time.

I'm sorry to hear the little girl is not doing well. Have you talked to the vet ?
For the diarrhea it may be the formula is too rich for her,which can cause loose stools. 2 or 3 drops of Kaopectate every 4 hours and dilute formula with Pedialyte . when stool gets back to normal , gradually increase strength of formula again.
Another idea is add a little canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin not pie mix with spices sugar etc.) to the formula to help form the stools.

You may need to tube feed. That is something it is much better you have a vet show you how to do it the first time.

One other thing I want to mention is that if not warm enough, they can't digest their formula. Premature kittens need to be in an even warmer environment than full-term newborns ( temp in their box/ next for full term newborns under 3 weeks should be 85 degrees F. For premie kittens it should be more like 95 degrees F. . I do think it sounds like they were probably within a couple days of being born. so maybe don't need 95. but I would have it at least 88 F.

You should also check for dehydration. pull up skin on the back and let go, it should snap back in place in under a second. if it takes longer, that is a sign of dehydration and you may need to give sub-q fluids.

If Sister dies, yes it will be rather hard on Brother . but there are certainly kittens who have pulled through as the last survivor of a litter and grown up . If that happens I would give him a stuffed animal to snuggle with. ( something like the Snuggle Kitty is ideal since it has warmth and a "heartbeat". but some people have improvised with things like sewing a pocket inside a small teddy bear and putting in a travel clock that ticks.) . and also try to spend even more time giving him attention and physical contact with you. That excellent site, in the "Cold Kitten" page, tells how to make a little pouch to carry a kitten next to your chest.
When he gets older if possible it would be good for him to have contact with other kittens to play with.

It is a lot of work and very hard to keep them alive. I know it is a heartbreaking task and you are very kind to take it on. I do hope at least one will make it.

Actually their best chance would probably be if there is a nursing mom with a small litter of newborn kittens and she would accept these. you may want to ask the vet and shelter / rescue groups about that.

Thanks for sharing pictures of the precious Brother and Sister.
post #10 of 83
I agree with everything maewkaew has said. You really need a scale since it is one of the major ways to gauge if the kitten is getting enough and they should be weighed daily if at all possible. Sometimes they will have cheaper plastic food scales that are pretty inexpensive.
They do not look too premature to me so that is great. Do you know how the others died or have a guess? What was their down hill battle like and what ( if any) symptoms did they have if you noticed any? And have you been in contact with the vet about them? And what formula are you using?
I would not feed with a bottle as it is extremely easy to aspirate preemies and even if the aspiration doesn't kill them the tiniest amount of liquid that gets into their weak lungs will easily lead to infection. I use syringes that come with nipples on the end until they are the size of normal newborns to a week old depending on how they are doing size and strength wise.
Make sure they are in a room that is clean and never touch them before washing your hands. Don't let any other animals in there room and I always disinfect microwave, fridge door, and stuff I touch when preparing their bottle and heater before and after I use it. I always wash all kitten laundry with bleach. There immune systems are very weak so you meed to be extra careful. I've had very good luck with Kao pectin in very young babies and on preemies have used 1-2 drops that I measure out with a tiny syringe. Also you should have some dextrose, corn syrup or honey on hand and I will put a little on their gums if they are getting weak or seem to be going downhill. I very much recommend mixing pedialyte in as maewkaew suggested. I also use breeders edge nurture mate which is a colostrum supplement. It always seems to perk them up at first and obviously getting colostrum is a huge advantage to orphans. Not sure if you can get it in any stores though. Also I always add a probiotic to newborn or ill kittens bottles so I would talk to the vet about that, especially because of the diarrhea.
If I have a single preemie or newborn I will spend hours and hours holding him under my shirt all day or night and will do work on my computer or watch tv. Touch is so important and it does make a difference. If the girl passes he will most definitely need something to snuggle with. I will put a stuffed animal with a heart beat In Their carrier and will also heat up a water bottle and put a very squishy and soft sock over it- most of the babies prefer the sock but can also hear the heartbeat.
Make sure he is in a small carrier or something that will hold the heat in. For newborns I will use a small carrier with blankets inside and then I will put a towel over the carrier with one side uncovered, and adjust that depending on the temperature of the house.
post #11 of 83
And also, if you can find a nursing mom who lost her kittens or who has a small litter of newborns that would by far be there best chance of surviving their first weeks or life.
post #12 of 83
Originally Posted by FosterEmily View Post

Thank you so much for the feed back. That really helps! Unfortunately the little girl is not doing so well. She's refused to eat the past two feelings and seems to have diarrhea. It looks like she has started regurgitating her food too.

What formula is she being fed and wirh how much water mixed in? If she is refusing to eat and you arent already, use a syringe instead of a bottle and put tiny amounts in her mouth at a time. Be sure she swallows. You can also put a tiny dab of honey or corn syrup on the tip of whatever you are using to feed her to encourage her to taste it. Just a tiny bit though.
She really cannot miss meals and I would call the vet to ask him to teach you how to tube feed unless someone else that does from the clinic will assist. It's really her only chance and you should be prepared for if the boy stops eating as well and have a back up plan on ways to get them to eat like the dextrose, honey or corn syrup and tube feeding.
Also if she is vomiting she needs to be getting extra fluids. With diarrhea too she is most likely dehydrated so should really get some sub q fluids if you or the vet can give them. Just be SURE you warm them up first!
post #13 of 83
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys so much. Unfortunately the little girl passed today. Little boy is still doing great. He's eating and very active and I have made sure to keep h close to me as much as possible. Most of the other kittens had seizures before they passed. A couple started vomiting and having some type of spasms. My boss at work (who is a vet tech) said they just weren't developed enough and being run over inside mom could've affected them. We have a vet clinic at work so tomorrow I will weigh him and go pick up everything you guys have suggested. He isn't bottle feeding. I have a 1ml syringe I use but he sucks at it like a champ. I'm using KMR. It's in a can and what the vet gave me.
I have taken care of nursing kittens before but none this young. I feel like I'm failing miserably at it. I'm going to swing by to see the vet who asked me to care for these guys tomorrow. I'm hoping he may know of someone with a nursing cat. I just want this little guy to live. He's currently snuggled up to a stuffed carrot on a hearing pad in my bed just purring away. I also have a 2 year old and she is so infatuated with this guy but its also hard to care for him, care for her and keep her from snatching him up. I do appreciate you guys taking time to respond and walk me through this. I will update everyone on his progress in the morning!
post #14 of 83
Originally Posted by FosterEmily View Post

 I have made sure to keep h close to me as much as possible.
Most of the other kittens had seizures before they passed. A couple started vomiting and having some type of spasms. My boss at work (who is a vet tech) said they just weren't developed enough and being run over inside mom could've affected them.

This is in fact a useful trick, carrying the preemie or orphan at your chest. Inbetween your breasts in possible.

Works nicely with both kittens and humans babies.   Im not sure if  you got already this advice - the advices  I saw were all excellent.


Brother is btw a name not seldom used in Sweden. Although now it would just give unpleasant reminsicences, so you must give him another name too, before you adopt him. Yourself or adopt out.


Dont have bad conscience the others went on.  As said earlier, prematures have always an uphill fight.

Always.   Lets hope the death toll is already payed in full.



Good luck!

post #15 of 83

ps.  When you dont carry Brother at your chest, let him have a stuffed animal with him, a teddy bear or alike.

The feeling of a pal will make his will to life and survive even stronger.






Edit, ah yes, he does have a stuffed carrot as pal.  Surely as good as a stuffed parrot, or teddy, at least as long he is so young.   :)

Edited by StefanZ - 7/14/13 at 8:29am
post #16 of 83
I am sorry about Sister. Thanks for taking care of her and giving her some love and comfort.

Please don't feel like a failure. Premie kittens are notoriously hard to keep alive, even without the physical trauma of being inside their mom when she was run over that may have caused injuries.
I would try to somehow get a scale you can use daily at home..... maybe you know another mom who has a baby scale she's not using anymore? Or maybe you can buy or borrow a postage scale or kitchen scale? Ideally you want to see the kitten put on at least 10 grams a day though with a premie it may be some less, but you want to at least see gaining.

I'm glad Brother is snuggling up purring with his stuffed carrot. I bet that is cute.
You might also try one of the ideas we mentioned about something to snuggle that is itself warm , and/or has a "heartbeat" . like Laura said about a bottle of hot water stuffed in a very soft thick sock.
Brother is going to be even more dependent on you. That physical contact is in fact very important to his survival. Laura talked about when she has a single kitten, spending hours and hours with the kitten snuggled under her shirt. and that is what he needs. Your heartbeat, breathing, scent would all be comforting. ( I think I mentioned that 'pouch potato" they tell about on the kitten-rescue site, a simple way to make a little pouch from a pillowcase and "wear" the kitten.

I am sure your 2 yr old is very interested! I know you are in a VERY hard situation because both your young human child and this little feline child need so much attention at this stage! I hope you mean you ARE able to keep her from snatching him up. Toddlers with their lack of fine motor control and impulsive actions , and not yet really understanding that a small pet is not like a toy, can so easily accidentally hurt even a kitten who is a few months old let alone a premie under a week old.
If he grows up to be a big strong kitten , interaction ( closely supervised) will be good for both of them.
but I would not even let her touch him at all right now. This kitten is so fragile and so at risk of germs, having NO immunity whatsoever.
I know that would be hard for her to accept
Maybe if she has a little toy kitty, like a beanie baby size one, and toy bottle or an extra oral syringe, she could pretend to be helping her own orphan kitten. Make a little bed for him etc. ( I don't know if she is 24 months or 35 months or what stage she's at as far as playing like that. but it's just a thought.)

Whenever you DO decide to let her touch him which I would not do for a few weeks at least, remember her hands need to be washed very well too and use some antibacterial sanitizer.. The tips about sanitation apply not just to you but ANYone who is around the kitten.
One big concern I am thinking of is Panleukopenia also called feline distemper or feline infectious enteritis. The virus survives up to months or even years in the environment and it can kill kittens. You could just walk along some grass or dirt where a sick cat defecated or unrinated or vomited last month. or maybe even brush against some grass that a sick cat was eating and got saliva on , and track it in on shoes or clothes.
If you got colostrum replacement now, it is too late for him to be able to fully make use of it. but it might still play some protection role in the digestive tract. so it couldn't hurt.

You actually might be able to get him the modified live subcutaneous vaccine as young as 4 weeks according to a shelter medicine protocol from Univ of California at Davis vet school.
I was thinking the earliest was 6 weeks. but then I remembered seeing that.

vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif ((( Brother)))
post #17 of 83
Thread Starter 
I am pleased to report the little man is doing so well. As he has been he came to work with me and I was able to keep him ony chest, wrapped in a small cloth for the majority of the day. He is so active I have scratches from him trying to climb on me and little purple spots from him sucking on me when he got hungry. He also has a name now. Kit! My daughter, who I am able to keep away from him, calls him Kit kit so my boss and I decided Kit was fitting. Maewkaew, it's funny you mention giving her a syringe. She got ahold of one and started dipping it in her tea set then feeding her stuffed puppy. She is completely okay with not getting to hold him as long as she gets to feed her puppy while I feed him. She will also tell me 'KitKit' when she wants to see him. So I will hold him and tell her he is a baby. Every time she says 'oh baby!' And gets her own baby. So, sofar so good in that area. I am going to make a little carrier for him so I can keep him close and warm at work because e seems to enjoy that.
And thank you StefanZ! I feel a little less guilty today. I did give him another stuffed animal so he has been alternating between carrot and stuffed lamb when he isn't with me. I also have a small clock that ticks I think I will give him at night since I think he is too fragile to sleep in my bed. But he is in a box with fresh blankets, stuffed animals and a heating pad right next to me so I can check on him throughout the night! He is the talk of the town at work. He has so many people asking about his progress and wanting to visit him when he is older.
post #18 of 83
Thread Starter 
Also, our scale at work is for our goats and sheep and will not pick up on a small kitten. Where can I get a scale for him? At any store? I going shopping for him tomorrow. I was nervous to go too crazy too soon but I am feeling optimistic about him. Tomorrow will be 5 days for him!
post #19 of 83

 A food scale will work for a little guy like him. They sell them at places like Walmart and Target. Good luck with that precious baby! cloud9.gif

post #20 of 83
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much! I'll be getting one tomorrow.
The stinker is sleeping soundly with his carrot 😸
post #21 of 83
Thread Starter 
Kit made it through yet another night. He slept more than usual so I waited to feed him until he started stir. I'm not sure if that's what you should do or not but he was still fed every 3 hours.
post #22 of 83
FosterEmily this is very positive about little Kit Kit. sounds like you are doing a great job. I hope he continues to thrive.

& that is very cute about your daughter. I thought that might work if she could pretend with a toy and imitate what you're doing. Sounds like she came up with the same idea herself!
post #23 of 83

That's so cute about your daughter :-) It sounds like you are doing a great job with the little guy. I hope he continues to do well! Keep up the good work!

post #24 of 83
Thread Starter 

I forgot to mention, I think, that this little boy is also calico. Today was another good day for him. He hasn't had a bowel movement yet but I think I read its normal for them to only have one every 1-2 days?
The vet who saved him is also going to provide me with his formula free of charge. He is meowing more than ever and while I was snuggling him he fell asleep on my chest. It is safe to say I am becoming quite attached to this fellow. We even have guests at work coming into to see the miracle kitty. I've even had a few big bosses drop in to see about his progress. He has his own room at work. We keep it warm with a dehumidifier and I make sure to give it a decent clean each morning. If he survives me and the girls at work (all crazy cat ladies with kittens) have talked about having a kitty play date when he is older so he will be equally socialized with humans and felines a like!
post #25 of 83
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys so much for your advice and support! I don't know what I would have done without this forum!!
post #26 of 83
Thread Starter 
Also, I don't remember how much but he is gaining weight and his fur is much thicker than it was when I first got him.
post #27 of 83
Awww super to hear little Kit is doing well and see a new picture of the sweetie. Good to hear he is putting on weight and growing more fur. clap.gif The growing fur takes up some of his energy/ nutrition, so once he finishes with growing in that fur thicker, he wiil probably take off even more on growth of his body / weight.

Yes it's OK if he doesn't have a BM every single day. but not more than 2 days without.

A calico boy! ?? Black, Red ( Orange/ Ginger) and White? In the earlier picture , he looks Brown Tabby and White to me but it is not very clear. Brown Tabby colors can sometimes look similar to tortie colors. ( Calico = a kind of Tortie & White) The darkest markings on a brown tabby are black ( IMO it really should be called Black Tabby. ) but the lighter color an be brownish, and sometimes they can have some places on them that are a reddish brown So it can be tricky.
Calico males are very rare; that would make him unusual in yet another way.
but I am sure we will be getting to see more pictures of him and see for sure the color / pattern.

I hope you are a strict Head Nurse and don't let little Kit's fans (even those big bosses! ) touch him, or at least not without thoroughly sanitizing their hands! ( better if they just don't touch him at all, if you can diplomatically keep them from it.) I know I keep saying it, but this little guy has zero immunity right now, until he is old enough to get his vaccinations, and even then his immune system will still be too immature to make a full response ( but it is sure better than nothing!) . It's just that it would take so little to get him sick. and I know you are working so hard to save him . and you're doing a great job. and he is doing his best , too.
He is quite a special little survivor and I do think it's great he has a lot of people pulling for him. heart.gif
post #28 of 83
Thread Starter 
He must be a black tabby! He's white with mainly big black spots that have patches of light brown. That makes more sense!
He made through another night! He's sleeping more and more!
I do not let his fans touch him and the kids seem okay with that as long as they get to watch him be fed. The bosses don't either. One co worker has pet him but it was after a good hand scrubbing. He hasn't ha a BM yet but I'm going to work in that today. He seemed a bit bloated last night but looks back to normal this morning. When I went to feed him this morning he was asleep until he heard me talkin to him. His little head shot up, he yawned then started meowing at me. So sweet. Can he regconize me?
post #29 of 83
His hearing is not so great yet but I think he may be able to recognize the tone of your voice .
He can recognize your scent for sure.
And to him, you are mommy!

you may want to try adding a couple drops of vegetable oil to the formula and see if that helps him have a bowel movement. if he doesn't today you will need to get him to the vet.

make sure to massage his whole tummy and along the sides of him, with your thumbs, make sort or circular motions and move from the upper abdomen on down to lower, and then anal area.

Yes it sounds like he is a little Brown (Black) Tabby!
post #30 of 83
Thread Starter 
He had a nice solid BM this morning. It was more brown then yellow and more solid than it had been. I'm hoping that is good!
He took a nice nap afterwards haha
And thank you. I will make sure to massage him more thoroughly !
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