Yesterday afternoon my mom & I found two kittens (around 2 & 1/2 weeks old) under a table on our back porch. The mother cat is a feral who we've been unable to trap & spay. In the past year Mama kitty has had many litters that always die. She has always given birth to her litters away from our property. We're sure her kittens die or are killed because within 2 weeks of having them she'll show up on our back porch looking for food & won't leave again until she's full term again & ready to have a new litter.
Anyway, this last litter she actually had under my house. She had them 2 & a half weeks ago. Yesterday afternoon we found the two on our porch & wondered why the Mama kitty brought them out of hiding & exposed them to the danger of all the other strays, ferals we take care of, as well as the many racoons that come on our porch at night. We spent all day & night watching to see if she was feeding these two babies, but she never did. A couple times she laid near them & just watched them. But she kept disappearing under the porch. At one point we heard some loud cries coming from under the porch. I climbed under there with a flashlight & was shocked to see the Mama kitty sitting with three kittens! These kittens were almost twice the size of the ones she brought up on the porch & looked much healthier.
I want to point out that the Mama kitty is in bad shape. She is painfully thin & can't gain weight no matter how much we feed her. I wonder if she has contracted a serious disease from the tom cats who impregnate her. Maybe that's what's killing all her litters. Or maybe because she is so emaciated, she cannot produce enough milk to feed her babies. I'm guessing she abandoned the two tiny ones in order to give the big, healthier ones a better chance of survival. I'm sure the two tiny ones couldn't compete with the three large ones to get enough milk.
Needless to say, by late last night the two abandoned kittens didn't look good. So we brought them in our house & began feeding them kitten formula every 2-3 hrs. It's only been a little over 24 hrs since we've had them, but they are already thriving. They've become much more alert & active & their appetites are excellent. We've been feeding them with small, 1-ML syringes. We tried in vein to feed them with a kitten nursing bottle, but they are so little the nipple is too big for their mouths & they don't have the mouth strength to suck the nipple. They are eating well from the syringes, but we're so confused on how much to feed them. The directions on the formula goes by weight, but we have no idea how much they weigh & we have no way of weighing them. Also, all the info online talks about giving 2 & a half wedk old kittens around 50cc's a day, but we are using 1-ML syringes.
Also, I'm worried that neither kitten has had a bowel movement since we've had them in our care. When we feed them, we first try to stimulate their bowels by rubbing their genitals with a cotton ball soaked sith warm water. After they eat we try to stimulate them again. They almost always urinate, but no poopie so far. How long can they go before I should be worried? Also, is it normal that their urine is a bright yellow?
Sorry for the LONG post but I wanted to share as much info as possible. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially from someone with experience hand raising kittens.