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Newborn Kitten Emergencies

This kitten appears to be not breathing and is very cold.

This tiny patient arrived unresponsive, cold, and appeared to not be breathing. A very faint, slow heart beat could be detected but he is minutes away from certain death!  Dr. Heidi Wampler placed an intra-osseous catheter upon arrival and gave warmed i.v. fluids with glucose directly in to the bone marrow cavity of the femur.

Kitten receiving warmed i.v. fluids, oxygen and external heating.

With very careful warming, supplemental oxygen and continued i.v. fluids with glucose, this kitten begins to respond within about 5 to 10 minutes. You can now see him attempting to lift his head and meow weakly.

Newborn kitten responds well to Emergency Intensive Care!

About 2 hours after beginning i.v. fluids, oxygen and warming treatments, this kitten is now up, active, and seeking oral meals by suckling syringe feedings of warmed Kitten Milk Replacer. He’s getting too active to keep his intra- osseous catheter in place!

Newborn and Weaning Kitten Care

Wild young kittens are often found without their mother. Too often well-meaning people offer canned cat food and cow’s milk to them, not realizing young kittens are not ready to digest such a meal.  Often these kittens are, at first, energetic and eager to eat, but quickly succumb to inability to process and digest canned cat food and cow's milk.  


People also may not be capable of ensuring very young kittens receive frequent meals every two hours round-the-clock, just as their feline birth mother would be able to do.  Without round the clock feedings of either their mothers milk or warm Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) these babies will quickly succumb to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), dehydration, and low body temperature (hypothermia). This is a severe emergency as they will die without immediate Intensive Care!

Patients this size, usually only a few ounces in weight, are too small to place an i.v. catheter for fluids due to their small veins and very low blood pressure. To save them, our veterinarian must place an intra-osseous (within the bone) catheter and give warmed i.v. fluids containing glucose (energy source), electrolytes and hydrating fluid. Simultaneously, we carefully warm these patients and provide oxygen, gently increasing circulation, blood pressure, and body temperature.

Within just a few hours and with constant i.v. fluids containing glucose, these patients regain consciousness and respond to careful, slow meals by mouth of warmed KMR, suckling a tiny syringe for more. Once they have returned to a normal body temperature and blood pressure, they may resume small, regular feedings of warmed KMR every two hours.

Upon discharge, our staff can instruct you in proper feeding methods as these meals must fed with extreme caution to avoid accidentally drowning the patient with too much KMR too quickly. Accidentally filling the kittens airway with KMR is nearly always rapidly fatal.  Also, at feeding times, young kittens must be stimulated to urinate and defecate or they will develop other problems because of this. Our staff can show you how to ensure they are properly relieved to avoid this.

If you act quickly many times these tiny patients can be saved and go on to live very happy, healthy long lives. Don’t be afraid to try to save these little kittens even if you cannot tell if they are breathing! It is common for them to appear too far gone to save yet with quick action they often can be saved.

If you're near Helena, Montana and need to have your kitten seen on Emergency:

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