Orphan Care

How you can help an abandoned kitten get a leg up in the world.

By Helen Jablonski

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CAT FANCY

Last October, I saw a neighborhood feral hide several kittens under a shed belonging to Dick and Linda Byrd of Malvern, Ohio, two days after I'd seen her very pregnant. Later that day, Dick showed me a newborn kitten by his garage - 10 feet from the shed - crying for his mother. He placed the kitten and some cat food next to the shed and we backed off to watch. The mother came out of hiding, casually ate, ignored her crying baby and left. She had clearly abandoned him. As nighttime approached I knew this infant wouldn't survive alone. Dick agreed to become foster 'mother,' and I offered suggestions on how to care for this little kitten we name Little Orphan Andy.

Are They Really Orphans?
If you find one or more kittens you must first determine if they actually are orphans. The mother might have been startled and dropped a kitten to run for cover, left her babies to search for food or been killed. In any case, observe them from a distance to see if the mother returns. "If they are sleeping in a big pile, they are probably content and well fed," says Letrisa Miller, DVM, a feline veterinarian for the past 12 years in Norman, Okla. "If they are still, stretched out rather than curled up, and lying by themselves, they need help. If the kittens are restless and crying, they may be abandoned or orphaned." Abandoning a sick kitten protects the rest of the litter.

**Get the April 2012 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article or click here to purchase a PDF version.**

 

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