When taking on the joy and responsibility of a young pet, it is important to know everything you can about taking care of kittens. Then you can be more confident that you will enjoy happy and healthy kittens in your home.
When you bring home your tiny bundle of fur, you should be mentally prepared to love your kitten for its whole life. This will include plenty of time spent training, feeding and grooming your pet, as well as costing you money. But the joy and happiness that a kitten will bring is far beyond any material cost or investment of time.
Complete Guide to Taking Care of Kittens
If you have an adult cat that has given birth to a litter of kittens, you can usually allow her to take care of the needs of her kittens for the first few weeks. You will need to provide her with a safe and private place to do that, out of the way of traffic and excess noise and with a good, steady temperature. Make sure to have bedding laid out large enough for the mother and kittens to relax and sleep on together.
Watch the mother cat clean her babies regularly, feed them and generally control any energetic kitten behavior that develops in those first four weeks. Have plenty of food and water available for mother, as she will be feeding her litter and recovering from birth as well.
If you have rescued an orphaned kitten, you have much more work to do in those first weeks. Consider a foster mother cat if one is available. Otherwise consider yourself the primary provider of warmth, sanitation, food and care from the rescue onward. This is a full-time, involved job so don’t enter into it lightly.
Set up bedding that is warm and absorbent (fleece or old towels work well), as well as free from strings or threads that the kittens may get caught up in. Providing a source of warmth can be tricky – always remember to watch for the chance of burning and allow the kittens the ability to move away from heat. Heating lamps may work, but heating pads should be avoided.
Consider a food like commercial or homemade milk replacements, but be sure to find something that is nutritionally stable and prepare it properly. Feeding can be done through bottles or tubes, but be sure to sterilize all of the equipment well.
When Can a Kitten Eat Regular Cat Food?
Once your kittens are four weeks old, they will begin to wean either from mother or your hand feedings. You can introduce a small amount of wet food at this time, but make sure it is specially formulated for kittens. This will ensure that they start their growth with the optimum advantages. After five weeks, mix a small amount of premium dry kitten food with the wet food.
As soon as your kittens open their eyes and begin to move around, you can introduce safe toys for their playtime. Small balls or scratchers will help them develop and may also help to deter them from scratching your furniture, walls and flooring.
This is also the time when you can introduce them to the litter box. As mother cat will not want to share and the kittens need a shorter, more accessible box, you should purchase a small litter box strictly for them. Be sure to buy only wheat or corn litter, as they may take to eating it and clay litter is very dangerous when consumed.
Watch them as they learn the procedure, acting as encouragement and cleaning up any messes along the way. Sometimes special products will need to be purchased to help attract or train your kittens in their litter box.
After the six week mark your kittens will be ready to roam the house, so take special care to “kitten proof” the area – such as keeping cupboard doors and drawers closed, shutting the lid of all toilet seats and even installing outlet covers. Don’t underestimate the adventurous spirit and mischievous capabilities of your kittens.
Taking care of kittens can seem a daunting and involved job. There are many things to consider and many elements to monitor and supervise. Always remember the fun, joy and love that will come as you share your home and your heart with kittens. They are worth any investment.
Newborn Kittens Need Special Care
Newborn kittens need special care and attention especially on the first few days of their lives. Mother cats would spend most of her time with this welcome addition to the feline world and they keep their loveable offspring warm. While pet owners also share the responsibility of making sure that they are nursed regularly and making it certain that mother cats produce enough milk for her litter.
Newborn kittens join the feline world with their eyes closed and only when they reached one or two weeks old that they start to actively move around the box and would demand milk all the time. Yet, some of the litters need help in opening their eyes and pet owners will notice this is if there is a swelling or bulging under the eyelids.
Pet owners could help the opening of the eyelids but using a dampened cotton balls with lukewarm water or ask the help of a veterinarian in doing so. However, newborn kittens are vulnerable to infections and could die within 24 hours after birth while those who survive may experience excessive swelling under the eyelids, and pus will come out from the open eyelid.
During the first two weeks of life, newborn kittens also spend 90 percent of their time eating and sleeping. But they tend to be restless and cry during and after nursing if they are not getting enough milk. Aside from not producing enough milk, milk could also become infected. This could cause greater concern since all the newborn kittens could die.
So, if too much crying happens, visit a veterinarian immediately and ask for a milk replacement at least three times a day. It may be necessary to continue the supplemental feeding until the newborn kittens are old enough to eat kitten food.
Pet owners also have no control on when and how often mother cats left the box, and how much time mothers spend with her newborn kittens. So, regularly check if newborn kittens are warm enough but if not, provide supplemental heating even though newborn kittens huddled together that helps keep their body warm.
Observe the growth rate of the newborn kittens. In about one week, they should double their birth weight while they should be alert and standing on the second week. By three weeks time, newborn kittens are more active and curious than ever. They will try to climb out of their box while they should be able to walk, run, and play during the fourth week.
Newborn Kittens and Caring for Mother Cats
Make sure that the mother cat is comfortable. Mothers may become anxious and feel threatened, especially first time mothers. Often, too much noise and light may cause her to become restless and this is the reason why she move the newborn kittens from place to place. Mothers will hide her newborn to a warmer place. Away from too much light and even away from the pet owners; and this moving to and from might endanger her newborn kittens.
Cover the top of the box with a piece of cloth to keep off too much light or by using an enclosed box will protect mother cat from being restless. In some cases, fretful mothers could even kill her newborn kittens just to protect them. So, it would be best to seek professional help and ask if it is necessary to caged mother cats away from too much people and noise.
Newborn Kitten Care Tips
Getting your newborn kitten care correct is one of the most important things to learn about in this early stage. There will obviously be a lot of excitement and oohing and ahhing, but it is vital that you don’t get distracted and inadvertently neglect the little thing.
For the first four weeks of their life, a newborn kitten can live off its mother’s milk. This provides everything that they need.
If your kitten has been separated from the mother, the best move is to try and find a temporary foster mother who has just given birth to a smaller litter of babies, and see if she can feed your kitten initially.
The more likely option though, is that you will bottle feed it. You should definitely consult with a veterinarian about the best way to do this. The milk you use should be cat milk replacer, not regular cow milk or that of another animal.
Newborn Kitten care is something that should be taken seriously, so do not skip any steps or choose inappropriate substitutes.
After a few weeks, you can begin to wean them off the milk and add food designed for kittens. This will usually be moist and easily chewable. They should be fed more than an adult cat, about four to six times per day in small servings.
Around six to eight weeks old, they should be used to this new diet, and you will be able to just feed regular dry food. Make sure it is still designed for kittens though, as kittens need more energy than regular cats (at least double) and a large amount of this should come from protein (around 30 percent).
As they get older, reaching around twelves weeks old, you can reduce the amount you feed them to four times per day, and reduce the milk replacer (they will have stopped feeding from the mother a few weeks previously) until they gradually do not need it.
After three months, you can reduce it again to just three times per day, until they are six months old.
Other Newborn Kitten Care Requirements
As well as closely monitoring their feeding, you should also make sure they are keeping warm. If the kitten is orphaned, or without its mother, many people enjoy success with a hot water bottle (wrapped in a towel or similar cover).
It is important that the cat can free itself from the heat whenever it wants, so do not position it in a place that it cannot get away from.
It’s best to consult your vet about the optimum temperature.
Holding And Petting
If a kitten is very newly born and still being raised by the mother, do not hold it for too long or the mother will get upset. The second week onward is a great time to handle the kitten though, as it helps them get used to living with humans.
Taking care of your kitten requires research and dedication, but is not a particularly difficult task. As long as you are attentive and understand the needs of your kitten, you will be fine. Always consult a vet over any issues you are unsure of.