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Orphan kitten - help required

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi all

A few days ago I found an orhaned kitten (3-4 weeks old, male).
I left it at the vet for 2 nights, but then decided to keep it myself.

This is the first time Ive ever owned a cat, let alone a 3 week old kitten.

The vet showed me how to make it go to the toilet and gave me kitten formula.
She also showed me how to put eye drops in as it has a slight eye infection.
Im fine with the feeding side of things, but i have other questions.

- I read that yellowish urine means dehydration. His urine is a bit yellow, what do i do? Its drinking a fair bit. I feed it through a bottle and I only stop when it starts pushing it away.

- It hardly urinates when i try. When the vet did it it did alot, but when i do it it only trickles out.
Obviously this is my fault, and Im worried it will get sick if it doesnt all come out.

- Should i make it urinate before or just after feeding?

- Do i have to clean it at all?

- Any other advice you can offer?

Im feeling pretty nervous right now as I dont want to do anything wrong.
post #2 of 28
At 3 to 4 weeks old, you can begin to introduce your baby to solid foods now, but it may be that he isn't quite ready for canned kitten food. I would try to give him a little chicken or turkey meat baby food (read the label carefully - do not give anything other than the chicken or turket meat foods - if they contain onion or onion powder, do not give them at all) on a flat saucer. Spoon a little onto the edge of the saucer and heat it gently in the microwave. You don't want it HOT, but you do want it warm. If Baby doesn't take to it right away, try smearing a little on your finger, put your finger up near his mouth and see if he takes it willingly ... if not, you can smear just a little on his mouth. He will begin to lick and hopefully, like what he tastes. Keep trying and don't get discouraged. Some kittens take right to it, others take a little longer to get the hang of it.

He is also old enough to begin introducing him to the litter box. After you stimulate elimination (use a little bit of tissue for this attempt), put the cloth (or tissue) in with the litter. About 5 to 10 minutes after he eats, place him in the litter close by to the soiled cloth or tissue. If he sniffs at the tissue and begins to try covering it up, he is ready. He may take to this right away or as already mentioned, he may not be quite ready.

In the event he still needs your intervention with eating and eliminating, here is a very good web site which gives plenty of great information on caring for an orphaned kitten:


I highly recommend that site for anyone caring for orphaned or "bottle" babies.

You asked:

- I read that yellowish urine means dehydration. His urine is a bit yellow, what do i do? Its drinking a fair bit. I feed it through a bottle and I only stop when it starts pushing it away.

Urine IS a little yellow, so unless it is very dark or you can see blood in it, then there is probably not a problem. Baby will push the bottle away when he is full, so that's good.

You said:

- It hardly urinates when i try. When the vet did it it did alot, but when i do it it only trickles out. Obviously this is my fault, and Im worried it will get sick if it doesnt all come out.

How often are you trying? It may be that he just doesn't need to go. I wouldn't blame yourself without just cause. Give him a little more time between attempts.

You asked:

- Should i make it urinate before or just after feeding?

After - wait about 10 to 15 minutes. See above about beginning to introduce him to the litter.

You asked:

- Do i have to clean it at all?

Is he grooming himself at all? Some babies do at 3 to 4 weeks old. If he is, then unless he gets into a real mess, no, there is no need to clean or bathe him at all. If he isn't grooming yet, then you can dampen (not soggy wet) a wash cloth, wring it out real well and just lightly go over his coat. After you are done, wrap him up in a soft, warm towel straight out of the dryer for warmth until he is completely dry.

Remember to breathe ... they are a lot tougher than they look.
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice.
I'm getting worried enough about my lack of experience that I was considering taking him back to the vet for them to keep.

How long will I have to keep bottle feeding for?

The vet told me to place a small bowl with solid dried food in the basket with him, mixed with water.
I do this, but he just steps in and knocks it over so i think there is little point doing that.

The vet also gave me some solid meals, they are chicken ones.
I read somewhere that they wont start eating solids until 5 weeks?
I figured 3 weeks was a little young for the litter box too.

I got some more urine out of him, but not a stream like when the vet did it. It only comes out in drops for me.

He doesnt groom much, he does lick his legs a bit.
He is not dirty though, I was just worried about the bottom area.

I only just bought a cage/carrier yesterday.. should I get rid of that and swap it for a litter already?
post #4 of 28
No one is born knowing how to do these things, we all learn as we go. I wouldn't be concerned with your lack of experience, my dear. You should be praised for doing it!

You will have to bottle this baby until he can eat consistantly on his own. It may be a week or more yet if he is in fact at 3 to 4 weeks old - the dry food mixed with water may not be as appealing as warm chicken or turkey meat baby food. I wouldn't give up until you have tried giving the baby food to him. I have weaned kittens at 3 to 4 weeks old on baby food very successfully and am happy to assist you in whatever ways I can. If the meals the vet gave you are chunky, no, he probably won't eat them for a while yet. That's why you need something really gushy and almost runny. Try the baby food, lamb. See if it works. My guess is that with a little patience, it will work.

As for the litter box, once he begins eating on his own, you should also begin showing him how to potty on his own. This is what his birth mother would be doing at that time. He isn't too young to start at this point.

If he is licking his legs, try smearing a little warm baby food on his legs ... then show him the saucer - my bet is that he will eat it once he realizes what it is.

Keep the carrier and get a litter box. For kittens, you can even use one of those inexpensive aluminum baking pans with the short sides. It is the perfect size for little ones.

Don't give up. You are doing fine.

post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks gayef

The food the vet gave me is in a 85gram/3oz packet and says its for kittens aged 1-12 months.
It seems to be pretty squishy, I might give it a try.
post #6 of 28
Warm the food a little before you offer it. It really helps to make it more smelly and interesting to the baby.
post #7 of 28
Although the vet may have more experience, you have the time and love to show this little one that will really make the difference. With the help of TCS, you will be able to do the best for your baby.

Thank you for taking the kitten in!
post #8 of 28
Aww it sounds like you are doing a very good job so far. Good job reading up on kitten care too, just keep at it, you will continue to learn as you go along. Can you post a picture of him? I bet he is adorable...
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Sure, here is a pic

Myself and some friends banded together to save his life.
They all live overseas so Im looking after it alone, but he's like a team mascot

I warmed up some of that food, he was lapping at it. I think he gets his nose in there and gets it up his nose hehe. He seemed to like the taste though.

I still cant get him to poo. Vet said if he hasn't done so in 24 hours to bring him in again.

My major problem - Im going away for 2 weeks on April 10.
By then he will be around 5-6 weeks old. My family arent home during the day to care for him, and I have a backyard dog who is going to take some time to get used to his new friend (I have not introduced them yet, and the dog has a habit of always chasing away cats that jump the back fence)

Im really not sure what to do when I go away, I cant afford boarding for $20/day x 15 days.
His vaccines would be due around this time too I believe.

Any tips would be appreciated

Thanks for all your help guys!
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
One more question..
When he bites my hand, does that mean he's still hungry or is he just playing?
I finished feeding him 20 mins ago and made him wee. Now he is biting my fingers as though he is hungry again.
Is it safe to let him go until his next feed in a few hours?
post #11 of 28
Give him a little baby food now ... warm some up, put a little on the edge of the saucer ... *smile*

Don't let him bite your fingers, ever. If he bites, then he is ready to eat on his own. Does he bite the bottle too? When you play with him, always use a toy, never, ever use your hands.
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
Its not a hard bite, more of a suckling type action on my fingers.
He doesnt really bite the bottle, he sucks it very well if its in the right position. If he cant get a hold of it he chews a little bit.

I guess he ate some of the bits of food i gave him, i cut up the meat bits into tiny pieces - he would just swallow without chewing i assume
post #13 of 28
When the vet first stimulated him he probably hadn't gone in quite a while. So that is probably why he got so much out. You are doing it regularly so there probably wouldn't be as much.
post #14 of 28
I just wanted to add that hen I raised my 4 kittens after their mom died, I had the same problem with getting the kitten's to urinate & at some point they got constipated as well, I was told to give a few drops of mieral oil just a tiny bit & also for the urinating to run a bit of lukewarm water from the faucet & let it flow down the kittens belly towards their little bums. It worked almost every time. Your doing a great job!!
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Well a little after posting my last message here, he went to the toilet on the floor!
I quickly set up the litter and he later widdled and poo'd in there. He got the hang of it straight away

He does tend to wee a bit in his bed or wherever he sleeps during the day or night - i guess there is no way for me to stop that?
post #16 of 28
Give the kitten more frequent feedings. You have to get up around a few hours.
post #17 of 28
Here's a litter trick I learned with the last orphaned litter that crossed my path: When you wipe them to eliminate, do so over the litter box then leave some of the mess in the box. I noticed that kittens will try to start using the litter box somewhere between 3 and 4 weeks old so now is the ideal time to start to teach them (and yes, they need to be taught by you, MOM).

At that age you should be feeding him every 3-4 hours. You should burp him afterwards - you can do this by washing them or massaging them. I warm a wash rag and do a thorough cleaning after the feeding then wrap them up in a towel. It's a good time to do the potty wipe when you are cleaning them - this is usually about 10 minutes after feeding and they are ready to eliminate.

I always woke up round the clock to feed and if you are doing this, he won't mess during the night if you are helping him to eliminate then. Once he gets the point of the litter box, he should start going there, but keep the litter box close by as he is so young that he can't go far once the urge strikes him. I noticed that they don't start using the litterbox entirely consistently until they are closer to 5 weeks old.

Congratulations on your boy - he is absolutely adorable!!
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
He is now using the litter box all on his own. He uses it pretty regularly so i figure I dont have to stimulate him anymore.

But, last night he had some diarrhea
It kind of just spurted out, quite a mess. Then during the night a bit more was on his blanket in the morning.
Should i be very worried about this? I plan to take him to the vet tomorrow to see whats happening there.

I do feed him around every 3 hours, he doesn't drink the full bottle dosage at once though.

He still wont eat solids from a saucer, only off my hand and even then he licks it more than eating it.

I read somewhere that they don't need to be washed. He did however get a bit of the diarrhea on his paw and tail, I wiped that off with a warm cloth but i haven't actually washed him..

I'm quite worried that he's not eating enough and about the diarrhea.
Although he seems happy, playful and energetic, I'm still paranoid that something is wrong.

Oh, and you said you get up during the night to feed yours?
Mine sleeps ALL night - 8 hours - without a murmur.
Is this bad, going so long without eating?
post #19 of 28
Mom cats wash their young constantly and you need to do so also. The key is not giving them a chill while doing it, which is why I wrap them in a warm dry towel until they are dry. To wash them, I dip a washrag in a bowl of warm water and wring out thoroughly so it is only dampish. Rinse when it gets soiled and continue washing. Mine got formula all over them (there were 4 and they fought over food) and often messed their behinds. I washed them every time I fed them.

Be concerned about the diarrhea. Some kittens simply react to the formula and get loose stools, but diarrhea can dehydrate them very quickly and kittens can go downhill very quickly. You also don't know if the kitten has some parasite (like coccidia) or disease so you are best to have a vet check him out as soon as possible.
post #20 of 28
Bless you for rescuing your precious kitty boy, Longroad!! I agree with Amy (MomofMany) that a vet check is in order re: diarrhea. Until then, you could try feeding some boiled chicken with rice, and some unflavored Pedialyte mixed in - that is what my vet has me do when my kittens have had diarrhea. I think that some kittens are more prone to it - my latest rescue, Andrea, is more prone to it. Fortunately, they seem to outgrow it in a few months.
As for being gone for a couple of weeks, could you ask someone at your vet's if they can think of a foster person who might be able to help out? or perhaps he could travel with you? My first JC even went to my day job with me, and stayed in his crate. He made his first long distance car ride when he was about 1 month old & expected to go along after that - I would bring a shoe-box porta-potty so he could "go" on the road since kittens have tiny bladders.
The dog situation will require extreme diligence when monitoring contact - some dogs do have a strong prey drive, and the cuter & littler the object, the more likely the prey drive will kick in & they will kill. However, other breeds, esp. the sheperds, seem to have a stronger drive to protect the helpless members of the family. My former dog Tasha was a sheperd/husky mix who was the guardian of all cats, kittens, babies & toddlers (she now is a guardian over Rainbow Bridge); my daughter's Queensland Heeler is the same nurturning, protective type, whether it's cats, kids, laying hens; my 2 rottweiler-mixes consider cats & babies prime hunting prey _ and they are twice the threat to my laying hens & turkeys as the local raccoons, coyotes & mountain lions are combined!! I really hope that your dog is the Tasha-type.
I look forward to updates! Susan
post #21 of 28
It sounds like you are doing very well with this little one. What State are you in?

From your photo, he looks to be closer to 4 weeks than 3 and it's great that he's mostly able to use the litter tray. I agree with what the others have told you about the diahorrea. First, a visit to the vet with a sample of the kittens stool (they may give you antibiotics if they suspect an infection). If the vet doesn't find any cause, a teaspoon of canned pumpkin, morning and night may just do the trick.

Keep up with bottle feeding until you are sure he's getting enough calories and fluids on his own.

It's fine to give him a bath if he needs it. Gently 'scrub' him with a dryer-warmed towel and then use a hair-dryer set on low.
post #22 of 28
Just read that you're in Sydney.

From looking at that web site, it's obvious his name should be PJ.
post #23 of 28
Oh and it's OK for him to go the 8 hours through the night, as long as he's eating/drinking well through the day.
post #24 of 28
After reading the thread I think the best advice you have gotten is that they are a lot tougher than they look.
With my bottle babies I had a little bit of a tough time on the weaning and litter training, but eventually all three took to it just fine.
Sometimes when I would help them with elimination you couldn't see the urine because it was a little to clear, and blended right into the damp cotton. Sometimes I would rub once and pull the cotton ball away and watch for some drips or a stream...try that.
Good luck and congratulations on taking the time to raise this baby! I have so many fond memories of mine (I got one of them the day he was born, his mother abandoned him and then abandoned his brother and sister two days later).
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the great advice everyone
I told the vet about the diarrhea, se said its quite normal as he is just getting used to coming off his mothers milk.
Luckily he did a solid poo today so i think we are safe.

And yes, I live in Australia

I clean his bottom when he does a poo, but he keeps himself very clean and really hasn' t made a milk or food mess at all which is great.

He should be ok on his own for 5-6 hours when Im not here, someone will be checking on him apart from those few hours in the day.
I keep him enclosed with all his toys, food and litter tray so if he is eating well on his own in 2 weeks time, it should be ok.

In the last couple of days he has become very playful - even pouncing in his own clumsy way.
its very cute
post #26 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm back with another question/problem

The last day or so, the kitten has been very agressive with it's playfulness with me.
Usually he'd just grab my hand with his paws and sometimes lick it, but now he is completely extending his claws and ripping into me in a very agressive way.
He also does this sometimes when being fed from the bottle.
It's almost like he isn't playing anymore.
It hurts like hell but most of all I'm wondering why he has turned this way. He was very gentle previously.

I also can't get him to drink from the bowl still, he won't touch it.
Any tips?

Thanks people.
post #27 of 28
Sounds like he's playing with you like a sibling, instead of his momma. Next time he does you like that, growl like a cat (deep growl from the throat-with your mouth and lips closed-, and change tones a little, up and down-practice somewhere he can't hear you ). When you get it right, he will probably either look around for the other cat or scatter and look for the other cat. If he doesn't let go, make him while growling. Eventually, he will learn it is "Momma" letting him know of her displeasure at being treated this way. It worked with the litter of 3 I bottle-raised, and the spoiled rotten 6 yr old bottle baby I have now- and still works if she needs it,(she's the queen of the "attack the feet from under the bed" brigade ) but usually I can just look at her and/or scold her and she lets go-she respects me now (in this anyways! ) Growling worked with all my kittens, whether I bottle fed them or not.

And buy toys, lots of toys, so he can play with you, but not your hand-just be careful with toys on strings, etc.,and don't let him have them unsupervised. My cats really enjoyed wiffer golf balls and small, furry mice-Smoochie's favorite (my BB) was a 1 inch fake fur "mouse"-just the fabric-with a long leather shoelace tail! Now she steals rolled up kneehighs (I got her some blue and red ones so it didn't look like I left my kneehighs all over the house! )

Oh, I forgot the water! With mine, I put the water in a flat saucer, instead of a bowl-that way they didn't get as much water up their noses while they were learning. It's also not as much water to clean up when they step on it and spill it ! Also, you can try either putting formula flavored water-like 1 part formula, 3 parts water, or putting his formula on the plate, and as he learns, water it down.
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yep, Im putting the formula on a plate now. He sniffs it but doesn't really touch it.
I need this fella to be self feeding by the end of next week!

I was wary of string toys, I figured there's a chance he could choke himself if Im not around.

Thanks for the tips on getting him not to attack me. I will definitely try the growling thing.. haha
Let's see if it works
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