Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Fostering Bottle Feeding Kittens.

I'm Sue Emlyn-Jones, a volunteer kitten foster for Cats Protection, Bridgend Adoption Centre. I hand rear tiny kittens from several days, up to 7 weeks old.

It all starts with a call to say a little kitten needs my help. It may be a litter of kittens found on their own, or perhaps a litter whose mum has become ill and cannot cope with them. A quick run to the Centre to meet and collect my new charge and then back home to settle her in. 

Little Megan is only 4 /5 days old, her eyes aren't open yet, and she was found alone with no sign of her mum.

She will be on two hourly feeds for the first week while she becomes acclimatised to the bottle, because at this age, their little tummies can only take a tiny amount, so frequent feeds are the order of the day. Over the next couple of weeks, that will stretch to 3 and then 4 hourly as she can increase the amount of milk.

No doubt, I'll be on the caffeine for the next couple of weeks!

Sitting with your kittens after a feed, cuddling them close and hearing their little purrs of contentment, is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world!

A foster mum does everything a mother cat does, and yes, that includes winding and stimulating her to wee and poo! After her feed a gentle clean with damp cotton wool does the trick. Then, a cwtch up on your chest for any wind. Sound familiar? Yes, Megan is like a human baby, she likes to be snuggled in her blanket, complete with her little toy, and cuddled to sleep on her back!! 

Within a couple of weeks she will be on 4 hourly feeds, exploring her bed and pen, sleeping through the night, and be ready to start the messy process of weaning! She really enjoys walking through the bowl and trekking it all over the floor, though some does actually make her mouth, as evidenced with a very dirty face! Funnily enough, like children, they are not too keen on having their faces washed!!

It’s a really fun time, watching their antics as they find their feet.

Just a week later, she is running around the kitten room, climbing and darting into everything. She is eating kitten food 3-4 times a day and at this point I reduce her bottle feeds, much though she would like to carry on! It’s mainly comfort at this stage.

This is where socialization is so important. Plenty of play, introducing more people to the kittens, never a shortage of willing volunteers to play with them! Lots of cuddles, cwtches and snuggles!

At about seven weeks she will be ready to return to the Centre, have her final vet check, and her first vaccination. She will then be ready to move up to the Homing section and wait to meet her new human family and depart for her ever after home

Fostering is not always an easy occupation. It can be a roller coaster journey of emotions if one of your kittens becomes unwell. They are so small, with often very little immunity from mum, everything must be sterile as you would with a newborn baby.

If this does happen, there is always someone to turn to, and get advice. The Centre is always the first port of call, but it also helps if your partner is supportive! My long suffering husband, Stephen, is there to help move pens, help socialize, and listen to me wax lyrical about their antics.
If the worst happens, and occasionally it does, I know that I have done all I could, my kitten was loved for the time it was with me, was cuddled, warm, and grieved for. Sometimes it is just not meant to be. Its not easy, but one that all pet owners accept when we look after animals.

Knowing that you are the only chance they have, spurs you on, and the joy of seeing them grow, develop, and become all they should, is nothing less than wonderful to me.

I have had nearly 300 foster kittens over my 8+ years with Bridgend Adoption Centre and every one is special. I could never imagine life without cats and dogs by my side.

Would you be able to help a litter of abandoned or rejected kittens by becoming a bottle feeder?
It's time consuming, but oh so worthwhile.

If you have a spare room, time, and would love to join me, please get in touch:

Cats Protection Bridgend Adoption Centre –
01656 724396.