Found an orphaned kitten?
It’s unfortunately very common in Bali. And chances are, without your help, the kitten will die on its own.
BEFORE YOU HELP:
If you found a nest of kittens, chances are the mother went out to find food. Wait and watch, if you can. Try to determine if the mother is coming back or if they are truly orphaned. Stay 10 meters away and watch – the mom won’t approach if you are too close. Sometimes this can take hours. Talk to the neighbors and try to determine how much danger the kittens are in. The mother cat is her kittens’ best chance for survival, so wait and watch as long as you can. Remove the kittens only if they are in immediate danger.
If the mother cat returns
That’s great news! You can help by providing food and water. Try to befriend the mom and the babies so they become used to humans. When the kittens are 4-6 months old, you can try to capture them and get them sterilized to prevent more unwanted kittens.
If the kittens are abandoned
So you have determined the kittens really are alone and you want to help them. Please know that all rescue organizations in Bali are full. Contact them first to find our their availability and if they can help you if you foster the kittens. As they grow up, you can get them vaccinated, sterilized, and re-homed, then rest easy knowing you saved their little lives.
How to care for kittens under 4 weeks old
If you do decide to help and they are still nursing, know that this is an all-day effort. Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind:
- More important than food is keeping the kitten warm. A kitten can’t maintain their own body temperature and will often die from being too cold. A kitten’s body temperature is 37.8 to 39.1C. Even though we live in a hot environment, they will need a heater or a hot water bottle 24 hours a day to stay alive.
- Babies who haven’t been weaned from their mothers need eat every 3-4 hours. Small or sick kittens might need to eat every 2 hours. You can get a bottle from a pet store or use a syringe to force feed them. Keep mind they CANNOT eat cow’s milk. That will give them runny poo. You have to purchase cat milk replacement from the pet store or feed them goat’s milk.
- Neonatal kittens can not poo or pee on their own. After every feeding, use a tissue or a warm cloth and rub their genitals to encourage them to eliminate.
- You can start weaning after 4 weeks old. This includes mixing in cat milk replacement with wet food. They will start to not only eat on their own but use a litterbox and maintain their own body temperature.
Know that any organization is happy to train you on how to bottle feed. Feel free to reach out to them as needed. Likewise, area-specific Facebook groups are a good place to reach out to see if anyone can help with fostering.
How to care for kittens older than 6 weeks old
Kittens and cats who are eating normal food won’t require as much work as the neonatal babies. Start with giving the rescued cat a safe space and practice basic cat care to keep them healthy and strong. Good luck!