African servals, exotic cats as pets

Exotic Cat Care
Bottle Feeding Cubs, courtesy of the Feline Conservation Federation
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Except from FCF's Cat Care Basics Manual, provided to all new members for free upon joining FCF.

Topics in the booklet include Basics of Responsible Captive Husbandry, Permits, Basic Disposition of Wild Felines, Facilities & Equipment, Contingency Plans, Basic Nutrition for Wild Felines, Bottle Feeding Cubs, Health Care Basics, Species Selection for the Novice, Behavior Training Basics, Equipment & Supplies Vendors.

Additional copies can be purchased for $2.50 by contacting the FCF treasurer.

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Bottle raising a young cub from soon after birth through weaning is best left to experienced owners. If you have never bottle raised a cub before, and plan to do so, I strongly recommend you find someone in your area with such experience to advise you. The basic approach is as follows: Kittens should always be fed while laying on their stomach. Feeding a kitten while it is laying on it's back can cause milk to enter the lungs resulting in infections, pneumonia, or drowning! Formula should be heated to body temperature prior to feeding.

The first 3 feedings should be 10% dextrose after that a milk replacer should be used. Zoologic's Milk Matrix, Borden's KMR and Esbilac are common choices. The addition of a enzyme to break down lactose such as Lactaid is a good idea. A useful thumb rule for determining how much formula to feed is to offer the cub approximately 5% of its body weight in grams.

So, a 200 gm kitten would get 10 ml of formula each feeding, and a 350 gm kitten would get 17‑18 ml. The easiest way to come up with this is to drop the last number on the weight and divide what's left by 2 ‑ quick & easy. For the first two days feed a diluted formula (10% dextrose and milk replacer in a 1:1 ratio) every 2‑3 hours. Gradually increase the percentage of the milk replacer over a period of several days. At the same time gradually increase the volume offered and decrease the frequency.

After each feeding it is necessary to stimulate elimination by gently massaging the ano-genital area with cotton or a rag moistened with water. Keep a close eye on the cub's stool. You are looking for regular, firm but not hard, bowel movements. Urine should be clear, not cloudy or bloody. If diarrhea develops back off on the percentage of the milk replacer and decrease the volume slightly. If the diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours a trip to the vet is in order. A typical feeding schedule for a cub from one of the medium size species (e.g., bobcat, caracal, serval, lynx, etc.) might look like this:

Days Feedings/Day Volume (ml)
1-3 8 10
4‑8 8 12
9-19 8 15
20-27 8 18
27-30 6 23
31-58 6 30

Start introducing solid food at about 4 weeks. Use whatever you are planning to use as the cat's regular diet once it has been weaned. You can start with ground up chicken, turkey, or beef; or even one of the commercial diets- Mazuri Feline Diet, Nebraska, ZuPreem. Begin weaning from milk at 10 to 11 weeks. After completion of weaning, gradually begin feeding larger chunks of meat and begin using a vitamin supplement such as Chaparral and a calcium supplement.

Weigh the cub daily. After a slight drop during the first day or two weight should show a steady increase with a few days plateau when weaning and later during teething. Any weight decrease should be watched closely. Finally, if in doubt, call your vet! Wild felines generally exhibit few overt signs of illness until they are in real trouble. It is better to invest in an unnecessary trip to the vet than to lose your cat through delay.


This exerpt is presented in cooperation with the Feline Conservation Federation. All rights are reserved. FCF members receive a bi-monthly newsletter containing a wealth of articles like this one, and I highly recommend becoming an FCF member to learn more about exotic felines.







 

Home | First Stop for Future Owners | Why Exotic Pets Should NOT be Banned | Species Profiles | Behavior and Training | Care | Veterinary Care | Vet Directory | Housing & Enrichment | Adoptions | Resources | Discussion Forum | Photos | Other Topics....
© Jessi Clark-White, 2005
Bottle Feeding Cubs - Tigers, Lions, Servals, and other Exotic Kittens