Watching adorable kittens all day seems like a no-brainer, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Follow this cheat sheet, and you’ll be a pro-foster in no time.
1. weight is the most important indicator
The most important thing you can do to monitor your kitten's health is to weigh them every single day. Write down their weight in their daily monitoring sheet and watch them grow!
Kittens should gain at least 10-15 grams (0.3-0.5 ounces) per day. If they’re not gaining this much, or losing weight, make a Sick Kitten Appointment as soon as possible!
Tips for weighing your kitten
Make sure the scale is level and on a flat surface with no other objects touching it, e.g., pens and paper or other supplies
Weigh at the same time every day, ideally in the morning after a potty break but before breakfast. This should be the kitten's lowest weight of the day.
If your kitten is sick, or you are concerned, weight them throughout the day to make sure they are trending upward.
For bottle babies: Weigh them. Before and After: Every. Single. Meal.
Yes. We know it sounds crazy. Once you get into the habit though, it’s a breeze. You can also aim to grow your next batch of foster kittens quicker than the last, or challenge fellow fosters!
We weigh them before eating to see their growth, and after eating to see how much they’re eating. 1 mL of formula is equal to 1 gram, so it's easy to figure out how much they ate! For example, if a kitten weighed 200 grams after potty and before a meal, and then after the meal weighed 215 grams, then that kitten drank 15 mL of formula. You can then check your feeding chart to make sure that they are eating the right amount for their age.
Kittens often lose weight due to not eating enough or through excessive loss of water, usually through vomiting or diarrhea.
2. Poop score
There’s no way around it. A kittens stool can show signs of illness well before they look like they’re getting sick. We use a standard poop scoring system which helps make talking about bathroom time easier.
Apart from weight, monitoring their poop is the next most important thing you can do. Keep a copy of the Poop Score Chart near your kittens and write down the poop scores in the kittens' Daily Monitoring Sheet.
what is normal?
Normal kitten stool should be between a score 2 to 5. A score of 5 is like toothpaste, soft and sticky. A score of 6 is like a cow-patty and cannot be picked up. A score 7 is total water.
If you aren't sure that kind of stool your kitten has because it's all mushed in the litter and you don't see any distinct toothpaste or logs, then it's probably diarrhea. When in doubt about if your kitten has diarrhea take a picture or bring a sample to your exam.
If your kitten has diarrhea make a Sick Kitten Appointment as soon as possible.
3. everything else
Kittens can be intense, and each has a unique personality. The super snoozer, playful paws, most curious, delinquent, or the wall meower; the list goes on and on. Your job, as a foster, is to be a super detective to find out who you have!
A healthy kitten should have a good appetite
You could have little piggies, dainty grazers, the dreaded picky eaters, or a barrel of variety kittens! This is another spot where weighing your kitten is important. You won’t always be there to watch your kittens eat, so weighing them daily is a perfect gauge on their appetites!
A healthy kitten should be alert
Yes, we know they sleep up to 20 hours a day, but when they’re up and about, you should expect your kitten to move around with some pep in their step!
If you try to rouse your kitten into playtime, and they’re just not having it, chances are something’s not right. Make a Sick Kitten Appointment as soon as possible. By the time a kitten is showing signs of lethargy, they’ve usually shown other signs that were missed.
A healthy kitten has no signs of sickness
If your kitten has watery eyes, green boogers from the eyes or nose, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, any injuries or wounds, red or irritated skin, then your kitten needs to see have a Sick Kitten Appointment. Click below to schedule an appointment ASAP.