It’s a hot summer day, and you see a ball of colorful fuzz in the bushes by your home. You get a little closer to investigate, wondering what it could be. And there it is: a tiny kitten.
The little one uses all the strength she’s got to let out a little mew, and you know you can’t leave her to fend for herself. But how old is she? Can she eat on her own, or will she need a bottle, since mom is nowhere to be found?
There are a few ways to determine the age of a kitten:
Are the eyes open? A feline typically opens its eyes around 10 days old.
Are they blue? A kitten’s eyes will change from blue to another color at approximately six weeks old.
Can you see any teeth? They usually are noticeable by the time the youngster is three weeks old.
Try weighing the kitten. (A food scale or baby scale can be helpful!) They gain about one pound per month.
If she’s able to walk around, does she seem steady or wobbly on her feet? At two to three weeks, kittens are still wobbly on their feet but begin to show play behavior. At four to five weeks, they are steady when walking around.
So you’ve rescued the kitten and determined its age. Now what?
Call an agency like the Connecticut Humane Society, or, if you plan to care for and keep the kitten, make sure to properly understand her unique needs.
If the kitten seems ill, bring her right to a veterinarian.
If she seems stable but cold, warm her up. (Do not feed her until she is warm.) Wrap her in a towel or blanket. Consider using a microwaveable heat disc, but test it on yourself first to ensure it is an appropriate temperature. Ensure the heat disc does not take up her entire cage or area.
If the kitten is four to six weeks old, she can eat on her own (try food in a very shallow bowl, plate or something else that’s small, like a jar lid). If she seems younger, she will need to be bottle fed with special kitten formula.
When bottle feeding, do not lay the kitten on her back like a human baby. Put her in an upright position, or with all four paws on the floor or your lap (in a tummy-down position, the same as if she was nursing from mom).
Kittens cannot urinate or defecate on their own until two to three weeks and need to be stimulated with a cotton ball, gauze, towel or paper towel that’s been dampened with warm water after eating. Move the material gently in a circular motion for 10 to 30 seconds.
Do not let the kitten interact with any other animals you may have.
Bring her to the veterinarian for a routine veterinary appointment.
Take proper care of your new little one, and pretty soon when she meows for mom or dad, it will be you she’s calling.
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