Taking the animals to the shelter is not always a good thing because they often are forced to kill vast numbers of lost pets. But if you have no choice then it is better than them starving to death slowly. Possibly the best bet is to take them to a no kill shelter or try to find a home for them.
I did this article a while ago that will give you an idea of the sadness of a pet shelter–use pet shelters as a last resort if all the other choices have run out is my opinion.
Orphaned kittens–check for the signs first: If the kittens are plump, clean and sleeping in a heap their stealthy mother is probably around someplace and will come around and care for them. If they are dirty, their area is soiled and they cry continuously then it is quite possible that they have been abandoned. Your first order of business is not to feed them, but to get them clean, dry, and warm because they can not digest any food if they are cold.
Taking care of new-born orphaned kittens is difficult, so if you can, get to a vet and find out the required details. If the mother is still around, then she will take good care of the new-born kittens–thank goodness.
Apparently, in the first two weeks of a kittens life, kittens can not regulate its own temperature–the mother cat controls the kittens temperature.
If your kittens are orphaned and you are forced to bring them up, then for the two weeks, “the kitten’s environment must be kept at a constant temperature to avoid either hypothermia or hyperthermia.” Keep them off the floor and in a box (10F/5C colder on floor) if possible and newspapers make for a good insulator (& is easy to keep clean also) or you can use towels. Your room temperature should be kept to around 72F/25C and the immediate vicinity of the kittens should be 80-95F/25-35C, but allow them the space to move away and seek shelter from any heat source. Heating pads or hot water bottles (wrapped in towel) should be placed in one corner of the box.
Kittens that are too cold can’t digest their food. All food and water used to clean the kittens should be lukewarm ( 95-100F/35-38C). Wet kittens (like humans) feel a chill, so make sure they keep dry if possible & out of the windy areas.
I would just like to add, that it is not easy to save the lives of new-born orphaned animals, so don’t take it personally if things don’t go as you plan.
Preparing your kitten for the litter-box and grooming starts when they are young
When the kitten is around 12 weeks old you can begin its training to be an adult house cat.
- At first give the kitten its own space with all the essentials
- a litter box,
- water and
- when the kitten feels comfortable with its environment you can introduce the kids and other pets to it. If the kitten is an orphan, it may already have some idea about the other residents of the house already.
- don’t leave the kitten alone for long periods of time and give it lots of love and attention. Apparently in humans this helps maintain health and good brain development.
- If you have a orphaned kitten you will already know the signs and times it likes to go to the toilet. If it is a new kitten, you will have spent time with it and observe it after it eats and drinks. When your kitten is about to pee (urinate), lift it into litter box and reward the kitten with praise and treats when it uses the litter box.
- Brushing your cats teeth can prevent tooth loss, gum infections and even bacteria using the teeth as a direct path into the body and damaging the organs. You have to buy special cat toothpaste (that stays in the cat’s mouth and is eventually swallowed). Brushing your kittens teeth during grooming training will make it easier for you to brush its teeth later on in life.
- To train your kitten for grooming. brush its fur and teeth. Also touch its feet a lot to prepare it for nail clipping. Since there are blood vessels in the claws (like a dog claw) you might ask a vet how much of the nail can be removed.
- If you take the time to train your cat, play with it lots, and groom it, you will be more likely to end up with a happy, lovable, and healthy house cat.
- Some comments–although it may not be true–feel that occasional dry food also helps keep a cats teeth clean and healthy.
Here is a video also showing how to quickly brush your cats teeth (only the outside needs to be done)–but you need special cat toothpaste and toothbrush.
Cat Dental Health & Tooth Care : How to Brush Cat Teeth
Major references used for this section
- How To Take Care of a Kitten By Alison Wood [Accessed July 2011]
- Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth: Vet show us the details[accessed July 2011]
- How to Brush Cat Teeth by Jenny [accessed July 2011]
Training Your Cat not to Bite and Scratch so Hard
We all know kittens are playful. The thing we may not know is that if you get an orphan kitten, it will miss out on these social “play” skills. One of the biggest problems is they never learn about how hard to bite (as they would if they played with other kittens). Since you are its mother, you have to train the kitten not to bite too hard (a firm voice saying “no” is usually enough, but pulling the hand away will not work). If you let the kitten get away with this behavior they may grow up into adults and their bite and scratches really hurt. Try and use toys rather than your hands if possible to play with the kitten.
There are many other reason a cat may bite including sickness or dominance stuff. Here is some information on this matter:
- Second Chance
- Care 2
- One owner says they can’t resist rough-housing it with the kitten, they use gloves to prevent excessive blood loss, and despite all that the kittens still seem to grow up into normal peaceful and friendly adult cats: Cats of Australia
Bell Your Cat
I’ve read mixed reports on this one, but the little sneaky attack kittens have a harder time sneaking up on you and attaching themselves to some unfortunate part of your body if you do this. It is also supposed to stop them killing wild life.
Well if a bell stops them bring home dead and injured snakes, birds, and rodents as a gift, then I’m for the bell again.
Here are some sites to support what I say:
The Troubled Teenage Years–“Since when did my cat develop an attitude?”
Depending on the breed and size of your cat, they will enter the teenage years from around 6 to 12 months. They will also have teething problems (that annoy them a great deal) and you since the teeth will become considerably sharper. They will also test all the boundaries (and often end up worse for wear) so your dog or other cats better be ready for some troubled moments.
This is about the time you cat will determine if it is in charge of the house or if the humans or other pets are more dominant. If your kitten learned good social skills and received enough physical contact early on, this is the time it will really start to pay off.
Here are some references on a cats growth stages:
- Note: some breeds of cats do take longer to develop (& pass through the teenage years) so it’s a good idea to talk to a vet or read up about your cats particular breed if possible. The guidelines here probably apply to most breeds of cats (but not all of them). “Also, all animals work to their own [growing up] schedule.”
- About Cats: “Your kitten can, and should, be spayed or neutered between three and six months.”
- Paws: “Kittens are usually weaned at six or seven weeks, but may continue to suckle for comfort as their mother gradually leaves them more and more”–problems in orphaned kitten behavior may develop later on in life if the kitten is weaned too early (one of my previous articles says it is okay to wean them at four weeks).
- All your cats needs: “Did you ever wonder what a cat’s age is in human years?”
- For the love of cats: “This teenage period usually only lasts 4 months.”
Feeding several cats
Do not feed cats from one single bowl! They will see feeding time as a competitive situation and they may overeat and even throw up their meal.
Also another odd thing is some cats do not like deep bowls because they get their whiskers dirty–so use a flat plate for them!
Also try feeding cats throughout the day with small treats (they seem to like eating small snacks, I suppose it mimics hunting and foraging for small game) because it will make them less desperate at dinner time in most cases.
- A house full of cats: a very nice blog like article about feeding time.
- The daily Puppy: also some useful stuff about cats in there.
- Pet Caretakers: think carefully about the type cat-food you buy. Don’t just pick up the first one that has pretty packaging.
Prevent Your Cat from Breeding
I strongly suggest de-sexing (spalying, neuter) your cat to prevent unwanted kittens.
There other benefits of de-sexing, but I consider this to be the most critical to prevent cats from having unwanted kittens that have to suffer ending up in a stressful shelter (and often being put down) or worse.
I’m very reluctant to use shock tactics, but If that is what is needed to wake you up about the truth of a situation that will occur if cats multiply to numbers where people are forced to hand them over to shelters (or shelters are forced to go out and catch them) then I will with great sadness let you see a darker side to our society:
- The Truth About [Pet] Rescue
- ASPCA PETA HSUS The “euthanasia coverup” by rescue groups! Don’t watch this video if you are easily shocked, take my word for it, it is not nice to see the truth sometimes in such graphic ways.
- No Kill Shelters: we should pay for the suffering we cause animals. This is the only way our money based society currently will take notice of the true scale of the suffering we cause animals. Animals deserve a chance to live if our actions cause them to be brought into this world. Some like to think of Pets as livestock–I doubt most pet owners share that sentiment!
Congratulations, a pet has many good health outcomes for the owner and now you will get these benefits also: http://ririanproject.com/2007/11/28/pet-i-cure-10-benefits-of-owning-a-pet/.
If you are from Korea, then you might be very interested in this section on toxoplasma gondii because it is not common in that area but around 30% of the worlds population is thought to have this parasite.
In Germany and in France it is believed that most people carry this parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. It’s effect on most adults is thought to not be significant as long as the immune system is healthy–but more on this particular topic below.
This section focuses on toxoplasma gondii which causes rats and mice to run to a cat instead of fearing it. The mind altering effects of this organism might also affect humans. It has been linked to schizophrenia and the more general problems of depression, anxiety.
Even more amazingly is the following statement:
“According to some studies women with toxoplasmosis are more likely to cheat their husbands. Men with the parasite have shown to be more aggressive. Infected humans also have slower reaction times.”
[ source: http://www.parasitesinhumans.org/toxoplasma-gondii.html Accessed 2011 ]
You generally do not catch Toxoplasmosis from cats, but rather you get it from: contact with raw meats; undercooked meats; fruits and vegetables that have not been properly washed; and not washing your hands properly–so that’s one of the reasons why mum always kept annoying me about having to my hands before dinner (another Ah-huh moment)!
The following video applies especially to pregnant women, but is also a useful for hygiene in ones daily life.
for an extended discussion about this topic and more videos: http://www.parasitesinhumans.org/toxoplasma-gondii-pictures-videos.html
These are some of the references I used:
- Example of how rat is attracted to cat urine, by rat sitting on cats head