kindness club for kids
Are you a teacher, scout leader, or homeschooling parent? Does your kid have a heart for animals? We’ve compiled these downloadable resources to learn about caring for kittens, foster care, and animal welfare:
Orphaned kittens make up the largest group of animals at most shelters. Many kittens are born outside, especially throughout the spring and summer months. Sometimes mom abandons them, and sometimes well-intentioned humans “kit-nap” the kittens to try to find help.
At IndyHumane we strive to provide optimal care to each animal that comes into our facility, and that often includes placing them into foster homes. Kittens require extra care both medically and behaviorally. Being in a foster home gives them the best opportunity to get the best care possible.
How do foster families help orphaned kittens?
Give them lots of love and snuggles! They are missing the love from mom so try to simulate that with snuggly blankets or a stuffed animal for them to cuddle with.
Heating pads and lots of blankets are necessary. Kittens are unable to regulate their own body temperature at this age so they need a source of heat. When using a heating pad, keep it on low and place a blanket or towel over it so it is not directly touching the skin. Also, make sure there is room for them to get off of the heating pad in case they get too warm to avoid overheating them.
Bottle feeding needs to be done every 2-4 hours depending on the age of the puppy or kitten. The amount also depends on their size. When feeding, allow the puppy/kitten to be positioned upright, not on its back like a baby.
Feed bottle babies as much as they will take on their own from the bottle; syringe feed when they do not eat enough on their own.
Kittens around 4 weeks of age can be switched to gruel (canned food mixed with warm water). These kittens are in the stage between being bottle fed and being weaned. Kittens at this age should always have kibble, fresh water, and fresh gruel available to them.
These little ones may need help at this stage as they don’t always get the hang of eating on their own right away! Even if you notice them eating some on their own, it is still important to weigh often to be sure they are eating enough. Some kittens are picky eaters, try different flavors and textures if your kitten isn’t eating.
Around 3-4 weeks of age the kittens/puppies should be ready to be weaned. Some take longer than others so if they are not weaned by then it is not a concern. The key to weaning is to do it slowly. Allow them to explore. Some will get the hang of it right away while others take a little longer and require more convincing. It may be necessary to supplement with occasional bottle feedings until they are fully weaned.
Kittens should be fed a food specifically designed for kittens. Younger kittens that have recently been weaned should start with canned food and graduate to dry food. They should always have a bowl of dry food and a bowl of water available to them. Fresh canned food can be fed 2-3 times a day. Do not give dairy products to your kitten. This can cause upset tummies.
Kittens should have access to a clean litter box at all times. Using the litter box is an instinct for kittens and not something that needs to be trained. It is important to keep the litter box clean and scoop waste daily.
Socialization is very important at this age! When starting, keep socialization sessions short. All this work is exhausting for kittens and they can get overwhelmed quickly. Giving them plenty of breaks is important. Never force them to do anything that makes them uncomfortable, and never risk getting bit. Start by sitting near them (never standing over them as that be threatening) with irresistible treats. Start by putting the treat in front of them and slowly begin creating a trail to you. If the kitten stops at a point and becomes uncomfortable, go back a step and start over. The goal is to eventually have the kitten taking the treat out of your hand.
It is important to expose them to numerous positive experiences to enhance their socialization. Get them used to being handled and being in different environments early on Exposing young animals to activities such as baths and nail trimming in a foster home early on can prevent them from becoming fearful of these activities as they get older. All handling and associations with people need to be positive. Always start and follow with something positive.
Playing with kittens is very important! Use an interactive toy with them to strengthen their bond with you. Have a special toy that is only played with when you are present. Play with your kitten with toys, not your hands! This will prevent your kitten from thinking it is OK to scratch or bite.
Once the kittens are comfortable with your family, start introducing them to new people and smells. Encourage friends to come over and handle them. Always have these experiences positive and reward the kittens.
Kittens receive their first vaccinations at 4 weeks of age and receive booster vaccinations and dewormers every 2-3 weeks until they are 16 weeks old.
Kittens are ready to be adopted into forever homes when they’re healthy, socialized, and weigh at least 1.5 pounds. Every kitten is different as far as how long it takes and what type of progress they can make. When a kitten reaches 1.5 pounds they are ready to return to the shelter for their spay/neuter surgery. This ensures they will not have any kittens of their own in the future and helps prevent many behavioral and medical issues as they grow up. After surgery they will be able to go to the adoption floor and be available for adoption.
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