Within the first three days of birth, a kitten requires colostrum in their diet. This substance is necessary for enhancing growth and immune system health. These few days of colostrum from the kitten’s mother are thereby essential to best prepare your kitten for a healthy life. This non-milk substance is available in supplemental form should the mother not be available; either way the administration of colostrum in the first three days of a kitten’s life is necessary to ensure basic kitten health and survival.
Colostrum is not the only necessary nutrient derived from mother’s milk making the nursing process very important for a period of about eleven weeks. Immunity and growth, core essentials for preventing kitten health problems, are dependent upon the nutrient density of the mother’s milk. The required nutrient diet of kittens can also be supplemented if nursing is not an option. If nursing your kitten is possible it is likely the easiest option, in addition to being the healthiest, as the mother is producing the milk and delivering it at the correct temperature and most natural formulation available.
Speaking to a veterinarian about the health needs of a kitten is essential, especially if considering the supplementation of vitamins or minerals outside of a normal, core cat/kitten diet. Luckily the supplements that are available, if needed, are easy to administer as they are in liquid form. Your veterinarian can demonstrate how to feed your kitten, though you can expect to need something to give the droplets of milk to the kitten. There are a variety of different options available, and several may need to be tried out before your kitten settles into being able to nurse from one. Think eye dropper, a plastic syringe (from a local pharmacy or veterinarian – note this is NOT the sharp syringe it is a special all-plastic one for making droplets into a pet’s mouth), even the tip of your finger. If the kitten’s mother is not available, make sure the litter has a warm bed to simulate a mother’s warmth. A heating pad, on low, with some bedding on top could serve this purpose. When a kitten’s health and nutrition needs are met you are ensuring its survival and long-term health.