In detail

How to raise an orphan cat by hand

When a kitten has to grow up without its mom, it's never nice. In such a case, if you have to raise an orphan cat by hand, you should be well informed beforehand about what kittens need at what age. You can find the first tips here. But someone is hungry ... - Picture: Shutterstock / Mircea BEZERGHEANU

There can be many reasons why a kitten grows up without a mother and thus becomes an orphan: Perhaps the cat mom has violated it or does not have enough milk for all her little ones. In particularly tragic cases, the cat mother may have died. If you have to raise kittens by hand, the age, weight and health of the orphan cat determine what it needs.

Before a kitten is twelve weeks old, it should normally not be separated from the kitten. If this cannot be avoided due to certain circumstances, there are a few things you should consider when growing by hand.

Raising the kitten by hand: tips

If you have to raise an orphan cat by hand, the most important thing is the replacement milk - and you can make it yourself. You can get a special powder from your veterinarian, which you only have to mix with water. The best way to prepare the milk is to use lukewarm, still mineral water or boiled tap water. When mixing, make sure that no lumps form.

Feed the kitten carefully and slowly with a small syringe without a cannula. Always give him a drop on his mouth first and wait until the little one has licked it up. So you can get used to the milk taste. Just stick to the droplet feeding at the beginning, otherwise the orphan cat could choke. This can be very dangerous if liquid gets into the windpipe. Therefore, always keep the kitten upright when feeding.

You can follow the following rules of thumb for the frequency and amount of feeding:
● 1st week: 1 to 2 ml of replacement milk every 1 to 2 hours
● 2nd week: 3 to 7 ml of replacement milk every 2 hours
● 3rd week: About 10 ml of replacement milk every 2 to 3 hours
● 4th week: 15 to 20 ml of replacement milk every 3 to 4 hours
After feeding, a careful massage of the tummy is very important to get the digestion going. With a soft cloth and a little warm water, you can gently cleanse the little one's anus when it is done.

Check the weight of the kitten daily so that you keep an eye on whether you are feeding enough milk. As a rule of thumb for the ideal weight, the following formula applies: (age in weeks + 1) * Birth weight = ideal weight

The birth weight of kittens is between 60 and 110 grams. The ideal weight thus results from the formula:
● Double birth weight after one week (120 to 220 grams)
● Triple birth weight after two weeks (180 to 330 grams)
● Fourfold birth weight after three weeks (240 to 440 grams)
● Five times the birth weight after four weeks (300 to 550 grams)
● ... and so on

If the orphan kitten gains less than 10 grams per day, as a precaution, ask the veterinarian or the cat protection if something is wrong. If the kitten appears healthy overall, has no diarrhea or constipation, it is usually sufficient if you feed more often - i.e. every hour or even every half hour. The kittens generally tolerate several small portions throughout the day. Later, when the kittens also eat solid foods, the weight gain runs faster.

Cute kittens with their bottle

How to help the orphan cat: Warmth is important

When you raise an orphan cat by hand, warmth is essential. She would normally donate this to her mother. Since this is not possible, you have to help: A hot water bottle can help here. However, make absolutely sure that it is not too hot. Otherwise the kitten may burn or dry out - both are life-threatening at a young age. An infrared lamp can also provide cozy warmth, but it must not come too close to the orphan cat and not get too hot - lukewarm is usually enough.

If a kitten is very young - less than three weeks old - it's best to put it in a box or basket. It is important that the heat source also fits here. As soon as the boy is a little bigger, he can find his way in a slightly larger room. From the fifth week onwards, you should also provide the orphan cat with food and a litter box. As a precaution, however, avoid lump litter or litter that is toxic if swallowed. Kittens are very curious and tend to eat the litter.

Summary: You need this for hand raising

So that your kittens are not missing anything, you should always have the following things in stock:
● First syringe, later vial (sterile cleaned)
● Still mineral water or boiled tap water
● Substitute milk powder
● Soft cloth
● Kitchen scales
● Heat source: infrared lamp or hot water bottle (not too hot!)
● Later: food suitable for kittens
● Later: litter box with harmless litter
● A lot of love, attention and patience

For emergencies, you should also have the number of your trusted veterinarian and the nearest cat shelter or shelter within reach. If the kittens get diarrhea or constipation, don't gain enough weight, or get sick, it is important that you get help quickly.