Hygiene and new-born care
New-born kittens are not adapted to exist on their own and to changing conditions of surroundings. One can avoid accidental death of kittens if they are properly looked after and their needs are taken into account. One should follow their temperature and weight. Appearance, frequency of breath, meowing and behavior give useful information about kitten's health and vitality.
Appearance and vitality
Healthy kittens are «round, strong and sturdy». They suck milk greedily, their tongue and mouth cavity are wet. Troubled new-born kittens usually bunch or crawl to their mother-cat. During the first 48 hours kittens sleep, putting their heads to their body. They sometimes quiver, squeak and kick their paws. This is called an active sleep and it's natural. It is the only opportunity for the kitten to move, his muscles get stronger, the thing he will need later. His skin is rosys and warm by touch. If one pinches the kitten, his skin is made even at once. If you take the kitten on your hands, he stretches and starts swaying on your palm energetically. If you take the kittens away from mother-cat they crawl to her.
Sick kitten looks dramatically: he moves with difficulty, cold by touch and hangs like a cloth when you put him up. He doesn't want to suck milk pushing the nipple out.
Healthy kittens rarely squeak. The kitten squeaks if he is cold, hungry or if something hurts him. Exhausted kittens are hyperactive - they crawl looking for help and fall asleep far away from heir mother-cat and their sisters and brothers. They rest putting their paws aside and turning their head on one side. Such kittens cry and sad and it may least more than 20 minutes.
Mother-cat often rejects such kittens, they are not supposed to survive. She pushed them out of the brood saving her strength for strong kittens. If such kittens are cured and their temperature gets normal, mother-cat will take care of them again.
The temperature of new-born kittens equals the temperature of mother-cat but soon it lowers in some grades (depending the room's temperature). During 30 minutes, if the kitten is dry and close to his mother-cat, the temperature starts rising. Till three weeks it is 35,6-37,8 °С. The temperature of healthy kitten is 5-6 °С higher than the temperature of surroundings.
Cooling and overheating - the only dangerous factors threatening the life of kittens. It may happens if the temperature of the surroundings is about 21 °С and the mother-cat leaves her "nest" for 30 minutes. Hypothermia leads to slow metabolism in kitten's body.
The majority of kittens have small hypodermic adipose tissue. Besides, they do not have the mechanism of heat regulation. That means that the process of narrowing of vessels for keeping the heat inside the body doesn't take place. All the energy kittens get with the food and because their reserves are small they need to eat often. Otherwise, hypothermia may appear. Overcooling is the most dangerous thing for kittens. During the first week the temperature inside the "nest" and near it should be 29-32 °С. Then it gradually lowers in 2,5 °С every week till 21 °С. The construction of such box for kittens is described in chapter “Pregnancy”.
Warming of cooled kitten
If the temperature of the kitten is lower than normal (for his age), he is considered to be cooled. In this case it is necessary to warm him. Quick warming (for example using hot-water bottle) may cause vessels' dilation, promoted loss of heat, extracalories expense and extra need in oxygen and it, in turn, may cause harmful effect on the kitten.
The best way to warm the kitten is to put him under your sweater or jacket using the warmth of your own body. If the kitten's temperature is lower than 34,4 °С and he is weak, it'll take 2-3 hours to warm him. After he has warmed, he is put into home incubator and feed artificially (See “Raising Orphaned Kittens”).
Never feed such kitten with baby feeding (or kittens' feed) and do not allow him to suck as his stomach is very weak and his small intestines do not function. So, the feed won't be digested (it may swelling or even vomiting). One should give to the kitten 5-10% glucose solution with some water or pedialyte solution: 1 ml for 30 grams of weight once in an hour and gradually warm the kitten till he is Ok and is ready to be active. Instead of glucose solution you may use honey solution or even water with sugar: one teaspoonful for 30 ml of water.
The importance of putting on weight
The weight of average new-born kitten is 110-125 grams. Kittens should constantly put on weight and double it to the 7-9th day. The weight of a 5-week kitten is about 450 grams, and a 10-week kitten is about 900 grams. One should weight the kittens (beginning with their first day) every day the first two weeks and, then, till four weeks - once in three day. Constant putting on weight is the best showing of normal development of the kitten. If the kitten doesn't put on weight, the check-up is necessary. If some kittens in the brood don't put on weight, you may think about mother-cat factor (toxic milk, metritis or insufficiency of milk). If mother-cat gets feed with low calories, she has, as a result, insufficiency of milk. Mother-cat needs 2-3 times more feed than the usual adult cat during the period of lactation. The ration should be balanced to compensate the loss of body during lactation (See “Looking after the cat in the after delivering period”).
Kittens which putting on weight constantly during the first week is out of danger. One should pay attention to the kittens which losing up to 10% of their weight the first 48 hours. Such kittens which lose the weight the first 48 hours and don't put on the weight till 72 hours are not supposed to survive. You should start artificial feeding immediately (See “Raising Orphaned Kittens”).
If the kitten is born with the weight under 25% from normal weight or from the kittens of one brood, as a rule, he dies. Such kitten should be put into incubator and fed artificially. You may save the lives of such kittens if they do not have other problems with health and inborn defects of development.