Vet Hansel answers your questions about pet care in this weekly advice column, created in partnership with the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA). It will also highlight each week some of the animals in the BSPCA’S sanctuary, in the hope of finding each of them in a loving home.
Question: I found an abandoned kitten in my yard a couple of days back. I would like to hand-raise and keep him. Can you please advise me on early care and vaccination protocol?
Answer: I am extremely glad that you have decided to take on the responsibility of hand-raising this kitten and keeping him.
The first thing is to ascertain that the kitten is actually abandoned as mother cats usually wander off in search of food and are usually hard to find.
Your veterinarian will give you advice on how best to hand-rear a kitten and check its overall health.
There are a couple of things that are vital for you to know, if you think the kitten needs hand-rearing.
Firstly, avoid feeding cow’s milk as they will cause loose stools leading to diarrhoea. Kitten milk replacer is the best solution for very young kittens and are available in markets and pet stores.
It is often available in powdered form which can be mixed with water as needed. Follow the instructions on the package for formulating the milk.
Secondly, infant kittens need to be fed every two to three hours and hence must prepare yourself and others to help you feed them regularly. Talk to your vet to ensure how best it is to feed the kitten.
Very young kittens cannot control their body temperature, so make sure that you have a nice snug bed for them, away from the other pets and small children.
A heating pad (beneath a towel) set to low can also be quite useful. Some kittens also need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate after feeding, which can be done with a cotton ball dipped in warm water and rubbed against the anus and genitals.
By the time the kitten is between four and five weeks old, he will be ready to begin weaning and eat solid (wet) food and at six to eight weeks of age, he will be ready for his first vaccination.
The booster vaccination is given 21 days later. Rabies vaccine is usually given to kittens over 12 weeks of age. However, Bahrain is a rabies-free zone and hence rabies vaccines are not commonly administered to pets (cats and dogs) unless the pet is travelling to another country.
- Dr Hansel is a veterinary consultant and surgeon for the BSPCA and Charis vets. Please send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BSPCA’S DOG OF THE WEEK IS TALLULAH
Age: Two years and eight months.
Tallulah is a friendly and quite active dog. His fun-loving character and playfulness is the best way to describe him. He bounces around in excitement when anyone approaches him and waits for the fun to begin. Tallulah is neutered, tick-treated and vaccinated.
BSPCA’S CAT OF THE WEEK IS PAPPUS
Age: Two years and two months.
Pappus is an energetic, lively and full-of-life cat. He is a striking boy who needs a lot of attention. He has got a fluffy ginger coat with big greenish or brownish eyes and has an amazing personality. Come and meet him this weekend and know what he is all about. Pappus is neutered and fully vaccinated.
l If you are interested in adopting Tallulah, Pappus or any of our other cats, kittens, dogs and puppies, please visit the Animal Welfare Centre in Askar. From the Alba roundabout, take the road sign posted Askar and Durrat Al Bahrain and at the third signal, take a right on the truck road and after approximately 800m you will see the shelter on the right side, just before the flyover. Or, log onto the website www.bspca.org for directions. The shelter is open from 9am to 5pm on Sundays to Thursdays and 9am to 1pm on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays. The shelter accepts animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.