Day 4, 9:00 AM: All eating well, gaining weight, good urine and stool (YAY!!).
LESSON: Weigh kittens daily. Any of you who may have attended one of our classes or workshops know how absolutely adamant we are about weighing orphans daily and keeping track by writing it down. Even someone new at fostering can notice a difference if they are not gaining consistently…often the first sign that something may be wrong. Kittens should gain weight daily if they are healthy. All you need is an inexpensive digital scale that measures in tenths of ounces or grams, whichever you are most comfortable with, and a weight chart. Scales are available at office supply and big box stores; you can make up your own weightAdd New chart, they are available online or I will be glad to send you an electronic copy of the one I use. I weigh at least twice daily, morning and night, when kittens are less than 3 weeks old or compromised for any reason, once daily after that for healthy kittens. The trick is to do it consistently; basically at the same time of day and when the kittens are in the same condition (fed and pottied or not). If the kittens are in really poor condition, I often weigh at each feeding. Some nurseries actually require volunteer feeders to weigh immediately before and after feeding to help measure the amount of formula consumed. It is not so much the amount of the gain, just that there is a consistent gain. If the kitten is not gaining or is losing weight, it is definitely a cause for concern. You will often notice other symptoms fairly quickly: loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, etc., but even without other symptoms, weight loss should be addressed immediately.
Nursing mothers and their kittens should also be weighed; the kittens daily and mom 3-4 times a week. There is no way to tell for sure if kitten are getting any/enough milk except by weighing them; they will continue to suckle even when getting no milk. Lack of weight gain is an immediate clue they may need supplementing or that mom is not well or giving milk. Birth is tough, especially when many of the moms may not be well fed or cared for during the pregnancy and they give their all to the kittens when feeding and grooming. And, as with all felines, they are good at hiding illness. So feed mom lots of good quality kitten food and watch her health and weight as closely as you do the kittens’.
Weighing will not prevent problems from occurring, but will definitely alert you that there is a problem…being proactive saves lives.