New Kitten thread - pix to follow soon

So like an idiot I finally decide I will never get a kitten. All my cats have been older strays & rescues, at least 6-8 months old when they show up at the back door. That’s fine, I like them older and more independent. So naturally, having actually been foolish enough to say this out loud…

4-ish week old kitten in the grocery store parking lot on Sunday morning, dodging under cars. What can I do? He’s not in great shape - covered in fleas, undernourished, one eye infected. Luckily our local vet is open 7 days a week and can see him in half an hour. He’s a scant 8 ounces but has all his kitten teeth so no worries about nursing. We get the fleas killed, some antibiotics, pick up some kitten food, KMR and a dropper, and take him home. A second run to Pet Smart and we discover that they have no kitten-sized litter boxes, but a ferret box is just about perfect.

Didn’t want to write too soon in case he didn’t live the first 24 hours. But, he seems to be doing a bit better. Still won’t eat on his own but is a bit more active and doesn’t fight the eye-dropper as much today. Got a little soft kitten food in his mouth and he seems to be getting the hang of chewing.

We almost lost him the first night - he is very clingy but we put him in a cat kennel Sunday night and he was almost dead in the morning. He spent Monday inside my husband’s shirt and last night in my hair and was much better this morning. My husband has been off work but goes back tomorrow, so I wil be bringing him to work with me for the next few days - still needing to feed him every three hours or so, but hopefully he will start eating on his own soon.

I know there are some Dopers out there with experience hand-raising very young kittens, so any advise I can get would be great. I’ve nursed older sick cats before, but I’m a bit awkward around a cat that fits in one hand.

Yesterday I would have said I am fostering him and will be looking for a home in a few weeks but after spending all day in his shirt, my husband officially named him Leonides (already shortened to Dez), so he’ll be ours. I’ll post a couple pictures after I get home - can’t get Photobucket working at the moment. I think he’s going to be a longish-haired cat, cream colored with very pale orange stripes. His head, ears & paws are huge compared to the rest of him, so I suspect he’s going to be a big boy eventually.


I await your photos.

Obligatory pix:


His first 24 hours. Visiting the vet, hanging out on my husband’s knee and sleeping in my husband’s shirt.

What a lucky boy!! May he give you many years of love, affection and toes-attacking.


Aww, bless your hearts! I hope his siblings (and mama) got as lucky as he did. Cute picture of Dez and Mr. Cake. :slight_smile:

Tiny kittens can be quite a bit of work but if he’s 4 weeks old, he’ll be eating on his own and litter-trained within another week or two.

I’ve found that young kittens like to curl up on a person’s chest, or, if the person is lying down, they like to snuggle between the neck and the body.

If you’re bottle feeding, remember that most kittens prefer to eat while lying on their tummies, they are not human babies. But like human babies, they feel better after being burped, and might take a little more milk on board afterwards. Just run your fingers up and down along his ribs, very gently. And is he going to the litterbox? I forget, exactly, when kittens don’t need stimulation to get the bladder and bowels going.

Did he get checked for ear mites? All the strays that we’ve adopted over the years have had ear mites.

He’s adorable, and he needs to get photographed frequently.

what **lynn **said. miss widget, mine own bundle of joy, now 9 weeks old, is big on snuggling into my neck while i’m sleeping. she’s big on seeking body warmth, so it looks like mr. cake is just the ticket for dez. :smiley:

the techs showed me how stimulate the need to void by gently rubbing the anus with a warm wet cloth and then setting kitty into the litter box. dez will get the hang of it pretty quickly.

widget went to the dive master’s for two weeks so she could be bottle-fed every four hours - important for sufficient nutrition - which i wasn’t able to do working in an office (he works from home).

once she was past that point, i brought her back home, and then at about six weeks i changed her over to kitten chow, softened with warm water.

good luck and post more pictures. i need to do that for widget, i just realized. :wink:

YAAAAY Mrs. Cake! Leonidas should turn out just fine :slight_smile: he’s a beautiful boy.
My last rescue was older: 6 weeks, I think.
I snuggled tiny Jasmine in my bosom a LOT where she could feel my warmth and hear my heartbeat. I think it helped her.
I fed her soupy wet food to start, but she caught on to solids FAST.
Litterbox? Only took showing her once.

That is a precious kitty. I’ve always thought found cats were the best.

He’s peeing in the litterbox - we have a bit of a routine. About 5 minutes after a meal (still mostly KMR with a little wet food to teach him chewing skills), he gets a little agitated and we put him in the cat box. He usually goes right away. Still no pooping, but the vet said not to worry just yet - he was running on empty when we got him so it will take some time for him to build up enough to eliminate.

Thanks for the tip about burping Lynn - I didn’t know that about kittens. I’ll give it a try next feeding. He is taking his syringes of food more willingly but still shows no inclination to try & eat on his own. Hoping that will change once his nose isn’t clogged up and he can smell things.

He played with a shoelace for a while last night - first time he has looked like a normal kitten. Got some topical antibiotic goo for his infected eye and it was starting to open a little this morning. Still looks sore as hell though. He is sleeping on my neck at night, although he has not managed to wake me in time to take him to the cat box, the little bedwetter. Oh well, everything is washable.

Husband goes back to work (out of town every other week) tonight, so I’ll be a single mom for a while. Hope work is feeling tolerant of my bringing him in tomorrow and Friday.

Oook, lookit the cute! He’s precious.

My current owner, Brix, found me when she was just three weeks old - Dez looks like he’s a touch older than she was. We did the same thing as you - went to PetCo, bought some KMR, the whole nine yards. They also sell bitty bottles for kitties there as well - if he doesn’t start putting on weight, it might be worth picking one up. We bought one for Brix and ended up cutting off the tip of the nipple, making it flow faster. I believe that you can add KMR to some canned kitten food to create a loose sort of slurry that’ll still flow through the bottle. You might already be beyond this spot with Dez, but I did use it with Brix as an interim step to get her onto solid foods. I just used my kitchen scale to weigh Brix about daily to make sure she was gaining.

My husband was both fascinated and disgusted by the bottom wipe ritual. He was all, “Mama cats do what?!” When Brixie was very very little, I’d use a washcloth and warm running water in the kitchen sink, but it’s hard to get it all washed off properly. (El Hubbo still says that she was more odiferous than completely necessary when she was little. And thoroughly wet itty bitty kitties are the most despondent sight ever.) As she got older and graduated to using the litter box, I took to using a cotton ball moistened with warm water to wipe her bum and get the whole process started. I too used a small litter pan - I think it was a disposable aluminum brownie pan from the grocery store - with shredded newspaper in it. (Might have been some special brand of shredded newspaper litter from the pet supply store, now that I think of it. I didn’t want to use straight clay or clumping litter when she was so little, as I didn’t want her ingesting anything she couldn’t yet tolerate.) After the bum wipe, she’d generally start peeing and I’d then leave the cotton ball in the litter box to reinforce the idea that that’s where the bathroom is. I only had to do this for a week, week-and-half before Brixie could manage the whole thing all by her onesies.

Here’s a picof the bitty Brix the day we found her - I estimate she was about three weeks old.

It sounds like you’re doing great. He’ll be scampering around in no time.

Oh! Something else I just thought of! I read somewhere that kittens pick up washing habits from Mama (like they’re supposed to), and absent Mama, washing skills might not be as developed. The recommendation was to use a damp washcloth in short strokes along a kitten’s face, paws, and body to simulate baths. I “washed” Brix this way after each mealtime starting from about 4-5 weeks on.

It seemed to work - Brix is as clean a cat as any.

What a handsome fella!

Dez is getting the hang of cleaning his paws & face. With the dropper & syringe feeding he gets messy so we have the ritual washcloth cleaning after meals.

Vet says he’s old enough not to need the butt stimulation but another day of no kitty crap and I’ll give it a try anyway.

Yay - boss just gave me the green light to bring him to work. This is why I work at non-profits.


Oh yes, they are quite convinced that you have decided to drown them. And they cry. Adult cats will tell you that they do NOT need a bath, and that if you insist on giving them one, well, you have to sleep sometime. And when you do, they will pee on everything that you own, as Bast is their witness.

Actually, I have found kittens quite tolerant of bathing. The trick is to use very warm water, in a warm room, and only a couple of inches of water. Between bottle feeding and not quite there bowel control, sometimes they can need a little more than a washcloth can provide.

Mrs. Cake, try adding a bit of plain active yogurt to the KMR. Always results in healthy digestive activity with mine.

Thanks for all the great advice, everyone. Leonidas had his first bath, and while he was not crazy about it he tolerated it quite well. The water and the cat were entirely different colors when we finished. Also solved the bedwetting thing by putting him in his litterbox at 1am when I got up to feed the 19-year-old cat with the dickey kidneys (yes, fun of all sorts at my house right now).

The eye seems much less swollen and goopy this morning so that’s promising. Vet suggested shooting a tiny amount of water up each nostril a few hours apart to help clean out the mucus. Hopefully after that he will start smelling things again and begin feeding himself. We are at work right now so we’ll try that tonight. Anyone done this? I have a tiny syringe for his antibiotics so I guess I will use that. His nose is so small not sure if I can even find a nostril.

I’m sure glad he does not seem to hold a grudge - he pretty much hates everything I do to him, but then crawls right back into my shirt and goes to sleep.

I’ll try to get a couple new pictures up today.

A cat’s body temperature is several degrees higher than a human’s, so the water likely doesn’t feel as warm to them as it does to us. I suspect a lot of people who try to bathe cats misjudge the temperature as a result.

Just a quick update. Fuzznugget (not his real name) finally turned a corner over the weekend. First kitten crap (holy cow - he was saving up!), followed immediately by his second bath. Next morning he finally started eating on his own. Eye is still healing, but he is beginning to act like a kitten - climbing everything in sight, sleeping all day and playing all night.

I’d post new picture but my husband broke the camera, my phone doesn’t have one, and he’ll be out of town until Thursday. I’ll get some new ones then.