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How to Rescue Orphaned Kittens

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Assessing The Age of Your Kittens

Determining a kitten's age is crucial in determining the best way to care for it. If your kittens are 6 weeks old, your job may be fairly simple. If they're 6 days old, you've got an uphill battle. Once again, contacting your vet for help is always a good idea.

Here are a couple of important dates in early kitten development: A kitten's eyes typically open at 10 days old, and their ears open at around 18 days. If you determine that your kitten is younger than 14 days old, you must be aware of this highly important fact: A kitten can't urinate or defecate by itself for the first two weeks. You must help it do this. 

It may seem kinda weird or gross, but this is literally a matter of life and death. "Wipe their rear end with any kind of soft cloth that's warm," Hammer explains, "You just basically imitate the mother licking them."

Feeding

When it comes to feeding young kittens, there are a number of easy-to-use milk replacements on the market for just that purpose. The delivery method, on the other hand, can be a bit more problematic. According to Dr. Hammer, the bottle-and-nipple method is infinitely better and safer than the eye-dropper method. 

If you must resort to a dropper, allow the kitten to suck the milk out; do not squeeze. If you squirt milk into the kittens mouth, it could get into your kitty's lungs, resulting in pneumonia. You should be able to wean you kittens off of the bottle starting at around 3 weeks by placing the milk replacement in a shallow saucer.

Pro tip: Hammer recommends you use nail clippers to cut a small 'x' in the nipple, rather than poke a hole with a pin.

Bedding

When it comes to bedding, you want to provide a safe, quiet, and comfortable space for your kittens. If it's cool outside, you may need to simulate the queen's body heat. For this, fill a plastic bottle with warm water and wrap it in a towel. 

Dr. Hammer does not recommend electric heating pads because kittens may not be able to get away from the heat, resulting in serious burns. If you use a heat lamp of some kind, the temperature reading at the level of the kitten should be 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

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