The kittens are starting to be able to see things now. When we're burping them they will sometimes sit up and look
at our faces intently, trying to figure out what the heck we are. So cute!
So here's the daily routine, repeated at 8am, 2pm and 9pm. It takes about an hour and a half each time. So many kittens!
- mix up milk from powder, or take leftover milk from fridge to reheat
- put down towels on table, get washcloth for kitten wrangling
- have log sheet nearby so we do all the kittens in order and don't forget any.
- check bedding and make sure none of the kittens have peed on it. Very occasionally they will pee from the stimulation as they crawl around.
- first, one person wraps the kitten's upper half in the washcloth, securing the shoulders but not putting pressure on the belly. We call this the "purrito". The other person grabs baby wipes and starts rubbing the kitten's bottom. Kitten usually stays still at first, but as the immediate need to pee goes away, the kitten remembers it's hungry and starts squirming and mewing LOUDLY. If there is a poo, double the loudness of the mewing by ten. Such little lungs, SO LOUD! They're sure we're killing them! You have to be firm though, because they need to get the pee and poo out.
- write down on the log sheet if they've pooed
- weigh kitten on kitchen scale, write weight in log, compare to yesterday's weight. This may be the same for a few days, but should go up by anywhere from 5g to 25g per day. If it goes down, keep an eye on that kitten and make sure it's eating enough.
- once all seven have been peed and pooed, then it's time to feed them.
- make sure milk is between 38 and 41 degrees C. Use baby bottle warmer if necessary. gesthen
rocks at knowing how long to leave the bottles in there to reach the perfect temperature.
- feed kittens in order they are listed on log sheet so you don't miss any. Not that you could miss any, since they are all screaming for milk by this point, and if you miss one it will protest until you remember it.
- watch the bottle closely to make sure there are bubbles rising through the milk. If the bubbles stop, the kitten is sucking in air and will have a very uncomfortable tummy, and may throw up.
- burp each kitten by holding it and patting or stroking its back and tummy until it has burped "enough". If it drank a little, one burp is probably enough, if it drank a lot, it may need three or four burps.
- once the seventh kitten has had its first round of milk, check the temperature of the milk in the bottles and heat if necessary.
- second round of feeding: much as the first, feed and burp each kitten.
- third round: pee and poo each kitten, write any poo in the log, and then give each kitten one final turn at the bottle, watching its tummy to ensure that it's round but not getting too, too full. Most kittens will stop when they're full, but you may get one that will stuff itself until it throws up, and that one you need to watch.
- by this time all the kittens should be falling asleep. We're keeping them in a large plastic tote with a towel over a heating pad in the bottom. We put the lid on it sideways so there is airflow, then put them in a dark spare bedroom where they can sleep. They may still be mewing, but after they are left alone for a few minutes they will all be asleep.
- wash up bottles and put away leftover milk in fridge. (Only keep liquid milk for 24 hours max. This is not a problem because with seven kittens, we are going through enough milk to keep it fresh.)
- plan errands and life so that we can be back home for the next feeding.
I hope that helps anyone else thinking about feeding foster kittens! Most of the time you won't have seven kittens and this will take a much shorter time. If you do have fewer kittens, make sure to wait about 10 minutes between rounds of feeding so that they will eat enough to last them until the next one.