Am caring for kittens that I found last night, that the mother seems to have abandoned, that I thought were one month old. Ideally I wanted her to come back to them. They were likely fathered by one of the outdoor cats belonging to my next door neighbor who says they are two months old. My husband found online that emergency food for four weeks or younger was egg yolks with a bit of vegetable oil. They loved it. Weather forecast predicted thunderstorms last night so after we fed them we put them in a Rubbermaid style tub with small fleece blankets, tall enough that they couldn't climb out, but large enough that the mom could jump in, and set them under our back porch which is just across the driveway from where his cats hang out. Multiple litters come from his cats every year and 90% of them die. One of this group of five did die hours after I found them. These four seem strong, though I am a little concerned about the apparent runt. Neighbor says he never considers them completely out of the woods until they're a year old. Now that I know they're older than four weeks, I see that they are old enough to eat kitten food. Is it best to start with wet food? Will the cans advise how much to feed? And should I feed the "runt" a little more than the others? Do they need kitten milk? And what should I feed them until I can get the canned food tomorrow? Stick with the egg yolks? Can I use the whole egg? Should I scramble them?(That would be less messy). And Should I put them back in the same place tonight? Or should I just give up on her. I could tell she didn't come to them last night. I will greatly appreciate any responses. Thank-you.
Kittens learn to eat new foods over time. Generally speaking, they chronologically learn to eat:
- Milk (from birth)
- Wet food
- Dry food
Essentially, they learn to eat soft food before harder foods. But this isn't an absolute. I've seen cats who refuse to eat wet food (or dry food), period.
Given their age, I would always keep cat milk available. If they have issues with the other food, they can always go back to the milk.
I hadn't yet heard of the egg yolk with oil. Based on the protein (egg) and fat (oil) content, I'm guessing that it's a substitute for milk (which is also essentially just protein and fat, suspended in a liquid).
I would expect that kitten milk is just as good at the egg-oil combo. You can always try giving them both and seeing which they prefer. Give them milk for a meal, then give them egg-oil the next meal, and then make both options available. They know both options so you should quickly notice if they favor one over the other.
But I think in general, the best approach would be to let them try things. Give them milk and the egg-oil combo. See which one they favor. Take note of their droppings, make sure they don't have diarrhaea more than once or twice after switching.
The same is true for the dry and wet food. When you think they're ready for it (or when you just don't know), simply offer it as an alternative. If they don't take to it, then that's their choice. If they respond badly to it (not digesting it), then take it away and try again at a later stage.
I don't think they're ready for dry food yet, but you could try with wet food.
I like your solution of putting them in the deep box to make sure their mother finds them again. However, mid-fall and with winter approaching, I would try to keep them inside. Especially if you're already concerned about their strength.
You can still put something outside that smells of the kittens (e.g. the green blanket in your picture).
If you want a more effective tool, also keep some of their droppings outside (preferable in an open container but I understand that that's not always an option).
Ideally, you'll want the kittens visible from where you leave the blanket/droppings. The mom approaches for the smell, and will then look around to find the kittens. Once she sees the kittens, she will likely stick around your house to get them back.
Am caring for kittens that I found last night, that the mother seems to have abandoned, that I thought were one month old.
If you're correct that the mother intentionally abandoned them, it's unlikely that she'll return for them.
But there's no harm in trying.