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How To Care For Kittens

A Vets Advice For Hand

How to CARE for a KITTEN – Food, Education and Health

Hand-rearing kittens is a big commitment, whether you are helping the mother or replacing her entirely. There are lots of bases to cover and problems to watch out for. However, with hard work and determination it can be done successfully.

Always seek professional veterinary advice if you are in any doubt. If youve made it this far, well done! Your kittens are now weaning! After roughly four weeks, kittens enter a second stage of growth as they begin to eat solid foods. To find out more, head over to the second article in this series.

How To Feed Neonatal Kittens

Use kitten bottles, and try to get the elongated nipples if theyre available because they are easier to use. You may have to make your own holes in the nipple with a sterilized pin or razor be sure you do this correctly so that the KMR drips out slowly when the bottle is turned upside down.

If you notice the kitten is having a hard time getting the milk to come out of the bottle, the pinhole on the nipple may need to be larger alternately, if the kitten is having a hard time keeping up with the amount of milk coming out, consider changing the nipple to one with a smaller hole. And cleanliness is key, so sterilize the bottles and wash your hands before and after each feeding.

Hold or place kittens on their stomachs and tilt the bottle so less air gets in. Do not feed kittens on their backs. Always warm the KRM and test it on your wrist to be sure it is warm but not hot, like you would do with an infant.

Remember, do not feed chilled kittens. Follow the guidelines on the formula label for how much to use, but they will usually stop eating when theyre full.

How To Warm A Cold Kitten

Fold a towel or blanket around the youngster and hold it against your chest for body heat. This warms the baby gradually, which is important. Sudden heat can be as dangerous as the cold.

If there is a litter, place a snug blanket in a box and let the kittens warm each other while you hold each in turn. Sometimes, they will be fine just being close to their brothers and sisters in a comfy, blanket-lined box away from the wind and rain. A cosy baby will eat, sleep and develop normally and be more resistant to illness.

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How Older Kittens Develop Week

Week 4

  • Weight gain is now rapid.
  • They’ll start to play with their littermates or on their own, make a toy out of anything.
  • They will start grooming themselves.
  • This is the likeliest time that the mother will leave them for longer periods of time.
  • At this point start offering the liquid formula on a spoon to encourage them to lap up their feedings instead of suckling. Feed every 4-5 hours.

Week 5

  • They are balls of energy.
  • Teeth and claws are well-developed and the kittens use them on everything .
  • They are more controlled with their movements.
  • If they lap up their milk, you can start adding small amounts of solids to the formula. If the kittens suddenly pass loose stools, then cut down on the amount of canned food that’s being added. It’s a guessing game.
  • If your kittens are not eating enough, you can still bottle-feed them to make sure that they receive enough nourishment for their fast-growing bodies. Feed every 5-6 hours.

Week 6

  • They are basically smaller versions of adults.
  • The kittens are lively, eating solids, and trying to climb up stuff.
  • From here on, their energy levels increase exponentially.
  • Note that kittens wean at different stages and some may be late bloomers or adjust quickly to a diet of solids. When they start switching over to solids, say near week 4 or 5, provide fresh water at all times as well. They won’t love it at first, but it needs to be introduced along with the weaning process. Feed every 6 hours.

Week 7

Week 8

3 to 4 Months

Where To Adopt A Kitten

Caring for Newborn Kittens

There are millions of homeless pets, so itâs a great idea to adopt your feline friend from an animal shelter or a rescue group. Pet stores and breeders can also be reputable sources, but anyone can call themselves a breeder and sell cats. Adopt from a shelter or a rescue group, and you get two feel-good bonuses: You save money — and a life.

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How Do I Keep A Newborn Kitten Warm

Kittens should be kept in a cat carrier wrapped in a few layers of towels. Using a heating pad or heat disc for pets alongside a soft fleece blanket can also help keep them warm. Ensure that the carrier is large enough for your kitten to move away from the heater when they want to.

It is very important to keep your cat carrier in a safe, warm room away from other pets. Itâs helpful to go and check on your kitten throughout the day. If your kitten feels cold, you need to warm them up as soon as possible.

Nutrition Tips For Kittens

As we briefly discussed above, proper kitten nutrition includes modifying the diet to ensure you are feeding kittens what they need during each stage of growth.

  • The mother cat should be feeding kittens during the first 4 weeks of life, or you should use a special commercial milk replacement formula every 2-4 hours if the kitten has been separated from their mother.
  • From 3-5 weeks of age, feeding kittens involves offering the milk replacement formula in a shallow dish to encourage weaning from a bottle. You can also add a moist, easily chewable diet consisting of a mixture of warm milk replacement formula and high-quality canned or dried kitten food 4-6 times a day.
  • After 6 months of age, kittens should be fed 2-3 times per day.

Feeding kittens the right food, in the right amounts, and at the right times throughout the day is essential for happy, healthy, and growing cats. Our veterinary staff would be happy to discuss the proper feeding schedule for your kitten at your next veterinary appointment.

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Its Been A Few Hours No Mom In Sight

The kittens appear to be abandoned, what can you do to help?

Once you remove the babies, you must keep them at an appropriate body temperature. Using a box with clean, soft towels, and warming bottles make a nest and place the kittens in the box. Keep them away from drafts and out of humidity. They need a room that stays close to 90 degrees for the first two weeks of age, then the temperature can be lowered to 80 degrees. Unweaned kittens need round-the-clock care and monitoring.

The kittens will need to be bottle fed with milk replacer every 2-3 hours and kept warm and dry.

  • 1 4 weeks old: will need to be bottle-fed kitten formula.
  • 5 weeks and older: can be offered canned food for KITTENS ONLY but they may still need to be bottle-fed. Canned food must be creamy texture with no chunky food or big pieces. Please try to find the best quality canned kitten food from the pet store.
  • If you, a neighbor, friend, or relative are able to take on this responsibility, you can give these abandoned kittens a shot at life! If your schedule does not allow for it, there may be resources in the community to help. Be aware that most local shelters do not have the staff to feed kittens around the clock and mortality rates in these kittens are very high.

Set Up A Feeding Schedule

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To keep up with your kittens appetite, youll want to establish a daily feeding routine. The best way to ensure that youre not under or over-feeding your kitten is to consult with you veterinarian about how much and how often to feed. At 3 to 6 moths of age, most vets recommend feeding your kitten three times a day. Once hes reached six months, you can scale it back to twice a day. Keep stocking your pantry with kitten food until your baby reaches adulthood, 9 to12 months old. In addition, dont forget to keep his water bowl fresh and filled at all times. But hold the milk. Contrary to popular belief, milk is not nutritionally sufficient for kittens and can give them diarrhea.

Get advice on the best way to litterbox train your kitten.

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How Often Should A Kitten Eat

The frequency that your kitten eats normally depends on how old they are:

  • Up to 1 week old: every 2-3 hours
  • 2 weeks old: every 3-4 hours
  • 3 weeks old: every 4-6 hours.
  • 6 weeks old: three or more feedings of canned food spaced out evenly throughout the day
  • 12 weeks old: three feedings of canned food spaced out evenly throughout the day

If you have questions or need additional guidance about how often or what kind of food to give to your kitten, contact your veterinarian for help.

Should I Take In An Abandoned Kitten

Be certain kittens are really abandoned before you disturb a nest. A mom-cat can be harder to spot than the stealth bomber, but just because shes not there now doesnt mean shes not around. If the kittens are clean, plump, and sleeping quietly in a heap, odds are that theyve got an attentive mom and should be left alone. Abandoned kittens will be dirty and the nest will be soiled, and they will cry continuously because theyre hungry. Ideally, kittens should not be taken from the mother until they are five to six weeks of age. However, kittens born to feral mothers should be taken away, if possible, at about four weeks old. At this age, it is easy to tame them and they have gotten a full four weeks worth of the precious antibodies mothers milk provides. As they get older, it gets increasingly harder to tame them. Kittens over the age of eight weeks who have had no human contact will probably take months to tame if it can be done at all.

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Schedule A Kitten Care Appointment With Cat Care Center Of Baton Rouge Today

Caring for a kitten can certainly be one of the most fun and rewarding experiences you can have as a cat owner, however, if you are under-informed about the needs of your kitten during this time, you can leave them at a developmental disadvantage.

At Cat Care Center of Baton Rouge, kitten care is one of our greatest joys. Our veterinary staff would be delighted to spend some time with you and your kitten, ensuring that your relationship will be a healthy, happy, and rewarding one for many years to come. Schedule your first kitten care appointment today!

Find A Good Veterinarian

Kitten Development

If you dont already have a veterinarian for other pets, talk with people you know for suggestions of good vets in your area.

You may want to meet the vet first to make sure they have good credentials, are competent, knowledgeable, and charge reasonable prices. Also, look for someone near your home and easy to get to in case of an emergency.

Your vet will advise you about how often your cat or kitten needs to be seen for check-ups and vaccinations. When you do go to the vet, bring a list of any questions you have about your pet and its health. Your vet is a valuable ally in keeping your new friend healthy.

As long as they’re well cared for, felines can live long, healthy lives. A nutritious diet and regular veterinary care can prevent many health problems.

Monitor Your Cat Closely

Cats can be very good at hiding signs of illness, so watch for any changes in their eating, drinking, litter box habits, or activity level. Ask your vet about any concerns to be safe.

If you have youngsters, be sure to teach them how to interact with your cats.


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Caring For Orphaned Kittens


  • Orphaned kittens should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can give you advice on caring for kittens and might be able to provide you with contact information for animal rescue groups.
  • During the first few weeks of life, kittens need proper nourishment, warmth, socialization, and help with urinating and defecating.
  • Dont give regular cows milk to kittens because it doesnt contain the protein and nutrients that kittens need and it can give them diarrhea.

Orphaned kittens should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can give you advice on caring for kittens and might be able to provide you with contact information for animal rescue groups. During the first few weeks of life, kittens need proper nourishment, warmth, socialization, and help with urinating and defecating.


Kittens need two to three times as many calories as an adult cat. A mother cats milk provides all of a kittens nutritional needs during the first 4 weeks of life. Newborn kittens may nurse every 1 to 2 hours.

Kittens should be fed while on all four legs or lying upright on their stomachs . If kittens are bottle fed, they must be burped by holding them to your shoulder and gently rubbing their backs. Be careful not to overfeed or underfeed kittens your veterinarian can teach you how to tell when kittens are full. Notify your veterinarian immediately if a kitten refuses to take a bottle, seems weak, or has problems nursing from a bottle.


Teaching The Kitten To Eat From A Bowl

Your kitten will need to learn how to eat from a dish, so you will first put the warm milk replacement into a flat and shallow bowl. Dip the tip of the bottle or syringe into the milk and let her lick it off. Guide her with the syringe to the bowl. Eventually she will learn to lap out of the bowl. NEVER force the kitten by pushing down or holding her head in the milk bowl. She can easily inhale the liquid and choke.

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The Scoop On Litter Boxes

Cats have an instinct to poop in soil or sand, so your kitten will likely use a litter box right away. Put it in a quiet spot, and show them where it is. Kitty litter choices include regular and clumping clay litter, crystal litter, as well as litter made from wood chips, grains, and newspapers. Some cat boxes are too high for kittens to get in and out easily, so you may need to start with a low-sided box until your kitten grows.

Preventive Care For Kittens

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Preventive care is important in ensuring your kitten is given the best opportunity to live a healthy life. Preventive kitten care begins with finding the right veterinarian and working with them to implement a sound checkup, kitten vaccinations, and preventive maintenance schedule. At Cat Care Center, we are able to pick up on subtle signs that something may not be quite right with your kitten. Between a thorough discussion with you and a physical exam, our veterinarian will be able to identify health or behavioral issues that your kitten may be experiencing.

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Warm Bed Water Bottle And Towel

If you are unable to get into the vet that day, you must make a comfortable and warm bed for the kitten. Take care that it’s not in a drafty location. Preferably, it will be a bit secluded. Gather towels and place the kittens in a box, a cat bed, or anything that’s an open-top container.

Putting a hot water bottle in will help keep the kittens warm and provide a sense of security . Don’t EVER microwave the water bottle, as this poses the threat of a scald! Place it in a pan of hot water to warm it up. Then put towels over the hot water bottle in the bed. Make sure the bed is large enough for a kitten who’s overheating to move away from this heat source.

Second Determining The Age Of The Kittens

Once your kittens are inside in a warm, dry place, try to determine how old they are. Depending on their age, kittens have different needs. There are a few things to look for which may help you:

  • Kittens eyes are closed the first week. They begin to open them from about a week to ten days, and somewhere between two to three weeks, their eyes should be completely open.
  • A kittens first teeth begin to erupt at around 3 weeks, with the first canines appearing at 3-4 weeks. All 26 primary teeth have usually appeared by 6-7 weeks old.

However, if you are not sure about how old your kittens are, ask your vet. In any case, it is very important that you take them as soon as possible to the vet who can assess their overall health and recommend treatment if needed.

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House Plants And Flowers

For information about cat-safe houseplants and flowers, see my article: How to Choose Cat-Friendly Plants.

Pet Poison Control Hotline

If your cat ever eats or drinks something that might be harmful, immediately contact your vet or the ASPCAs 24-hour/365 day-a-year Pet Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435 . There is a fee for this service, but if your vet isnt available, this hotline could save your cats life.

Keeping cats indoors is the best way to keep them safe, but it’s imperative that they have a stimulating environment.


Mixing In The Kitten Food

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After she’s readily drinking the milk replacement from the bowl, you will be mixing the milk replacement with some high-quality kitten food. Innova kitten food is excellent, palatable kitten food. After it’s properly mixed, it should have the consistency of oatmeal. Over the next few weeks, you will gradually reduce the amount of liquid to the mixture. You will be adding more and more cat food. Around the 5 to 6-week mark, the kitten will be eating food only very slightly moistened and you will be able to leave it out for her to free feed. By week 8 to 10, the kitten will be completely done with the addition of milk replacement.

Word to the Wise

Kittens love to play in their food bowls! All three of my kittens would walk, rub, and roll in it. It’s just part of the process for them. You’ll be cleaning them up quite a lot.

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