A Serval kitten should not be pulled from its natural mother until it is of at least 8-10 days old. If the mother is acceptable to co-rearing with a caregiver, kittens can be removed between two and three weeks and still become manageable cats. The age of pulling from the mother should correlate directly with the duration and success of the early human contact.
Hand-Rearing and Bottle Feeding
A kitten that has been nursing from its mother may take longer to accept an artificial nipple and replacer milk. If this happens, donít assume kitten will eat when it is hungry. This is not true and could cause death to the kitten. The caregiver must repeatedly give the kitten the opportunity to feel the nipple in it's mouth and slowly squirt drops of milk onto the kittens tongue to allow the kitten to become accustomed to the replacer milk and new taste. Make sure to drip formula into side of mouth, to prevent aspiration.
It must be noted that enough milk replacer during this time needs to be given to ensure kitten stays nourished and hydrated. It may take up to two days for kitten to begin to suck well on the nipple. This may be a time consuming job but must be done. Once good sucking begins, and then begin feeding schedule. Always begin with diluted formula, gradually working up to full strength. During this time, human interaction with the serval kitten as much as possible. Donít encourage rough play or behavior that will not be wanted in the future. Always provide opportunity to get used to noises, smells, sights and general routines of life around them.
Basic Equipment Needed
1. Cage or carrier
2. Sheepskin or flannel blankets
3. Heating pad (on low) with double layer of bedding on top
1. Bottle and Nipple
Match nipple as close to teat size of mother
Small rounded or more elongated nipples (Pet Nurser or Evenflo possible)
2. Put hole directly in center of nipple, using heated needle. Size should allow easy sucking at slow, steady rate. Hold bottle upside down, only small drop should come out each time bottle is squeezed.
There are many brands available besides what is listed below. They can be purchased in powered or ready to use liquid form. Please be careful with any milk replacers that have the ingredient, buttermilk. Buttermilk is hard to digest for the serval kitten.
Any unused portions should be discarded after 48 hours.
1. KMR may, but not always, cause diarrhea
2. Esbilac (preferred choice)
Begin with mix of 1 part powder to 4 parts distilled water; gradually increase this to a 1:2 ration by end of 3rd day.
Heat bottle to 100* (warm drops on your wrist) and maintain temperature during feeding.
Always have more formula in bottle than needed, allows for a better flow.
Mix only enough for a 24 hour period.
Mix formula ahead of time to allow air bubbles to settle prior to feeding.
Never reheat or reuse formula.
Never over feed.
Always clean/rinse thoroughly the nipples and sanitize the bottles.
Begin vitamins or other additives on 4th day.
From Day 1-3 kittens should be fed 10ml of formula 8 times a day
Days 4-8: 12 ml of formula, 8 times a day
Days 9-20: 16ml formula 8 times a day
Days 20-28: 19 ml formula 6 times a day
From this point feeding occur 6 times a day and ml increases to 23 on up to 30.
Hand Rearing Facts to Know:
1. After pulling kitten from mother, keep warm.
2. If kitten wet and/or cold, dry completely
3. Provide small stuffed toy, rolled up hand towel or other form of item for kitten to lie against when sleeping
4. Normal Rectal Temperatures:
First week: 95* F
Weeks 2-4:97-99* F
8 months-adult: 101-102.5* F
Weigh kitten before first feeding
Weigh daily at same time every day
Should have steady weight gain
6. Behavior: First couple of days; kitten will mostly sleep, only to rouse when feeding time is near. Handle kitten only to clean and feed during this period.
As each week progresses, the kitten will wander on belly and slowly discover it has wobbly legs.
First two weeks kitten will sleep most of time
Enlarge enclosure space by end of 3rd week for kitten movement and development.
Healthy kittens should sleep and eat well, gain weight steady, produce good stools and increase activity.
Any and all information contained may or can have different views, method or opinions for implementing. The above only tries to furnish the basic ideas of hand rearing a Serval kitten.
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