Pet Talk
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Pet Talk

June 3, 2020

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka explains how to take care of kittens whose mother has died or abandoned them

By Maneka Gandhi

Is declawing a cat illegal in India?

Yes, Onychectomy or De-clawing is an offence punishable under the Animal Welfare Act, 2011 of India. The Chapter IV of the Act deals with provisions regarding Cruelty to Animals Generally. The Section 17 (l) of the Act expressly states that: “mutilates an animal in any manner including ear cropping, tail docking, defanging, de-clawing, branding, piercing or kills any animal in any manner other than that prescribed by the Board;”

In any case no vets in India know how to do it.

How to take care of kittens whose mother died or left them?

The normal, healthy birth weight of a kitten is about 99.22 grams. By the end of the first week, a kitten typically should double its body weight putting it at about 198.44 grams, so these are good weights to record in order to monitor a kitten’s growth. If a kitten isn’t gaining enough weight it may mean, there is something wrong that needs to be addressed.

After two or three days, a kitten’s umbilical cord will dry up and fall off, but its eyes and ears will remain closed for a little while yet. At this point, the kitten is dependent entirely upon its mother (or foster human) for warmth, food and hygiene. It will crawl around on its belly, cry if it is hungry, sleep. You’ll need to play the role of mother if your kitten is an orphan or has been neglected by its mother.

Kittens are unable to regulate their body temperatures when they’re only a few days old, so blankets, a heat lamp, heating pad, and other elements may be necessary to ensure a kitten stays warm. If a kitten gets too cold it can die.

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Watch the kittens for a lack of weight gain or weight loss. These things could indicate the kitten is not eating enough or there is something else wrong. Look for bubbles or liquid coming out of the noses. This could indicate aspiration or a hole in the roof of the mouth. Watch for bloated bellies. This may mean that a kitten isn’t urinating or defecating and might need some assistance from you. Routinely check the colour of the tongue and gums of the kittens to ensure that they are bright pink. Make sure each kitten is moving around to sleep and nurse. A normal kitten crawls on its belly to find a nipple.

If a kitten is orphaned and needs to be bottle-fed, a special cat milk replacement formula should be used to provide proper nutrition. A homemade kitten formula can be used temporarily. A new-born kitten should consume about seven teaspoons in a day and will eat small amounts every two hours.

How to help kittens to defecate and urinate?

Stimulate the kitten with a soft, absorbent tissue: At each feeding, stimulate the kitten to use the bathroom. Use a soft, absorbent, disposable cloth (tissues or toilet paper will work great), avoiding harsh products like heavy paper towels which could irritate the kitten’s skin.

The body position for stimulating kittens can vary; find the position that works best for you and the kitten. Hold the kitten steady with one hand, and gently rub the genital region in a circular motion with your soft tissue. The kitten should begin to pee. Continue to stimulate the kitten until she is no longer peeing. Depending on the kitten’s age, this may take anywhere from 10 to 40 seconds.

If the kitten needs to poop, stimulate their bottom the whole time that they are pushing. Stimulating helps encourage them to use their muscles to pass stool, so continue until the kitten has finished her business.

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How many times a day do you have to feed your kitten?

Kittens need roughly twice the nutrients of adult cats, for both growth and energy. Obviously, their tummies cannot handle large quantities of food. Therefore, much like human babies, they need frequent feedings at first, tapering off as they grow. It is important during this time to weigh the kittens regularly, to ensure they are gaining regularly, but not becoming overly fat.

Is it safe for pregnant women to keep cats?

You do not have to get rid of your cat. You just need a little planning and know-how. Cats and babies have coexisted peacefully for thousands of years. Because toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects in children, pregnant women sometimes assume that they must get rid of their cat. This is entirely unnecessary, as a few simple measures will safeguard against catching the disease.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite that can infect your cat if she eats prey already harbouring the parasite, or comes into contact with contaminated soil, or eats raw or undercooked meats.

Many women naturally acquire immunity to toxoplasmosis and will not pass it on to their unborn child. In fact, the chances are that you have already been exposed to toxoplasmosis. Your doctor can test to see if you are in this group. If so, you have no worries about getting it during pregnancy.

Keep your cat indoors, don’t handle the litter box while pregnant, clean the litter box after each use, wear gloves and wash your hands, avoid infection from raw meat, avoid infection from soil. These will help you throughout pregnancy.

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