Friday, March 5, 2021

Raising Foster Kitten Essential Supplies

After having spent several years fostering young kittens, there are some supplies I've come to rely on time and time again. From food to litter and bedding to toys, check out some of those important supplies you'll need when you welcome the little kittens into your home. 

I've added links to Amazon so you can see photos and prices of the different products. I am a participant in their affiliate advertising program so if you make a purchase through my link I will earn a small commission. The purchase helps support me in purchasing replacement products for each year's foster kitties. I buy most all of my supplies from Amazon, but do get your supplies wherever is cheapest and easiest for you!

Supplies for Feeding Bottle Baby Kittens

  • Pet-Ag Nursing Kit 2oz Bottle is the only bottle I use for all the bottle babies. It comes with a little tiny bottle brush that makes cleaning the bottles so much easier. 
  • The Miracle Nipples are perfect for smallest of the smallest bottle babies like little four ounce Cami and Sami.
  • KMR - Kitten Milk Replacer - is an absolute must. It's like baby formula, but for kittens. Cows milk = bad news for baby kitten tummies.
  • KMR 2nd Step is another product we use for older kittens who still need a milk replacement.
As we transition bottle babies to soft food, we make a concoction called gruel. For gruel you need:
Rosemary wants you to know
gruel is very messy.
I first try them on a thinner gruel before moving to a thicker version. You may need to try different ways to get the kitties interested in the gruel: 
Parsley likes being spoon fed.
Parsley in her early
eating-gruel-from-a-bowl days.

If the kitties have successfully made their way with the gruel, they can be transitioned to straight canned cat food. If they tolerate the straight canned food, you can transition them yet again to the hard kitten food. Be sure to give their tummies plenty of time before switching over foods.

Supplies for Keeping Foster Kittens Warm and Comfortable

Wyatt, my foster kitten born with no back feet,
 slept wherever was easier to get to.
  • Pop up playpens keep kittens contained in the early stages when they don't need lots of space to roam. I've found connecting two playpens works even better as I can have a separate litter box room for them. There are several different types out there, but I really love my Jespet popups because they are bigger, sturdier, and easier to clean than some of the others.
  • A clear playpen with connecting plastic panels is another good option. It gives the little ones space while you can see exactly what's going on. And believe me, you want to know!
  • Blankets, blankets, blankets. You may have to wash kitty blankets every single day (sometimes more than once a day) so it's nice to have plenty of blankets - fuzzy warm blankets, fleece blankets (I have a no-sew fleece blanket tutorial right here), and even receiving blankets. Yep, receiving blankets. There may be times you need to wrap a kitten for bottle feeding or you just might have a hisser/scratcher/lunger who needs to be wrapped to be given medication. 
We had to swaddle Dutton like a baby
to get the eye ointment in those little eyes.

Supplies for Keeping Foster Kittens Neat and Clean

Kittens can be messy with a capital M and Parsley has the face to prove it.
While you'll be doing lots of laundry, you'll also be doing lots of cleaning. Kittens are good at learning how to clean themselves but sometimes they need some assistance from their foster parents.
  • Unscented pet wet wipes come in very handy. You can buy a wipes warmer for around $20, but I have been know to put a couple wipes in a baggie and then sit on it until the kittens are finished eating. Warms them up nicely. (Shh...don't tell.)
  • Toothbrushes for brushing their fur. Using a toothbrush mimics mama's tongue when she cleans them. It's comforting for kittens and is a great opportunity for a foster parent to bond with the babes. 
  • Small litter boxes for when they are little kitties, medium litter boxes for when they are better able to climb in and out of the box, and larger litter boxes for when they are several weeks old. I used to scrub up and really disinfect the used boxes between foster litters, but now I stock up on boxes when Amazon has them super cheap (like under $4 each) and replace them after each group of kitties. So much easier! 
  • I also stock up on Amazon's 89 cent litter scoops and toss them when the kittens head off for adoption.
  • Unscented non clumping litter. Little kitties like to eat everything, so litter needs to be non-clumping. After having a group of foster kittens who were allergic to the scented litter, I now only use the unscented.
  • A mat under the litter box can help with the mess that young kitties make. 
  • Kitties just learning about litter inevitably make messes elsewhere, too. Resolve Ultra Pet Stain & Odor Remover is a go-to for me.
  • For bigger messes, I use the Bissell Portable Carpet Cleaner. I can get the messes cleaned up right away.

Supplies for Keeping Foster Kittens Happy and Healthy ( and Busy)

Keeping foster kittens happy and playful is pretty easy. The key is toys and they have plenty of favorites.
  • Sparkle Balls are soft balls they can carry around in their mouths.
Don't even think about taking
away Sage's sparkle ball.
  • Crinkle balls are almost as popular. 
  • Jingle balls are toys - and noise - kittens love playing with.
  • Mouse toys are treated by my foster kittens just like they would a mouse. I even had one of my foster kittens who thought he should bring it to me over and over and over. 
  • Wand toys require participation from you, but boy they are fun.
  • A track toy - one with balls inside they spin around and around - can be a fun way for them to spend some of their time.
  • A cat tunnel/tube is a place you'll find foster kittens spending a lot of their time. Whether they are running from one end to the other or hiding in it or swatting at one of their siblings through the side, you can't go wrong with one of these.
  • Cardboard cat scratchers give kittens a chance to learn how to use their claws - and not on your furniture. They usually come with catnip you can add, but kittens under three months old don't care much about catnip. If your kittens are older, put the catnip on there and watch them go crazy.
  • Cat trees are great exercise for kittens and give them opportunities to explore some vertical space. The quality varies so look for one with consistently good reviews. The sturdiest one I've ever had was given to me as a gift by Simply Cats for being named their Foster of the Year. They do sell the sturdy cat trees here, but you'd have to be in the Boise area to pick it up.
Crazy things happen on cat trees by the window.
  • Keeping kittens healthy can be easy. But also hard. If they are sick, you'll want the vet or shelter to take the lead and let you know what you need to do. They may ask you to take the kitten's temperature frequently so you'll need a thermometer. And no, you don't put it in a baby kitten's mouth, on their forehead, or under their armpit.
Sometimes a warm lap (and some antibiotics)
are just what the doctor ordered.
Busted climbing on top of the playpen and
playing with the humidifier. Silly kitty!
  • A kitchen scale (or postal scale) is also important whether sick or healthy. As a foster parent, you'll need to make sure your kittens are gaining the expected amount of weight each week. When I am fostering bottle babies, I weigh them every single day.
You mean I have to be weighed on a
kitchen scale in the sewing room? Yep.
  • Sometimes recording and reporting their weights can be tricky when they all look the same. Having them wear color-coded adjustable collars can be very helpful. 

While there are a lot of supplies required for raising foster kittens, be sure to provide those things only you can... -

  • Your love
  • Your patience
  • Your attention