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How To Feed Newborn Kittens

When Can You Start Using Hair Products On Babies

How to Syringe Feed a Newborn Kitten

For a two month old, we do not recommend usage of ANY products on her hair. Babies change so much within their first year so we encourage all parents to refrain from using hair care products on babies until they at least reach 8 months of age. Please be sure to consult your doctor about the scalp issues you are seeing.

What To Do If You Find A Newborn Kitten

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During kitten season, its not unusual to discover a nest of unattended kittens or a single kitten seemingly abandoned by his/her mother.

by Valerie Sicignano, NYC Feral Cat Initiative

During high kitten season in the spring and summer, its not unusual to discover a nest of unattended kittens or a single kitten seemingly abandoned by the mother. You want to help, right? Before jumping to the rescue, consider these recommendations.

First: Wait & Watch

You might have come across the kittens while their mother is off searching for food, or is in the process of moving them to a different location. Try to determine if the mother is coming back for them, or if they are truly orphaned.

To do this, stand far away from the kittens 35 feet or more. If you stand too close, the mom will not approach her kittens. You might need to go away completely before the mother cat will return to attend to the kittens. It might be several hours before the mother cat returns until she no longer senses the presence of humans hovering near her litter.

The mother cat offers her kittens best chance for survival, so wait and watch as long as you can. The best food for the kittens is their mothers milk. Remove the kittens if they are in immediate, grave danger.

If the mother cat returns

If the mother cat does not return

Feeding A Kitten Over 8 Weeks Of Age

Once a kitten has surpassed eight weeks of age, they should be fed twice a day with normal kitten food. Solid food should not be an issue for kittens of this age but they may still try to nurse on occasion. Between eight and ten weeks of age, a kitten should be fully weaned and preparing to leave its mother if you plan to find the kitten a new home. The first vaccinations are typically administered at about eight weeks of age, so when the kittens have a vet visit, you can be sure they have been growing appropriately.

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Other Aspects Of Kitten Rearing

Kittens will tend to start to use a litter box from around four or five weeks of age.

Socialization is an important part of rearing young kittens: they should be exposed in a safe way to a wide range of environmental stimuli, humans, other cats, and other animals when they are young.

Kittens will tend to start to use a litter box from around four or five weeks of age.

When Should Kittens Be Vaccinated

How to Bottle Feed a Kitten

Kittens gain some protection from disease in the form of maternal antibodies passed in the queens colostrum . To ensure that the queen has sufficient antibodies to pass onto her kittens, it is important that she is well vaccinated prior to mating. The protective effect of maternal antibodies lasts for only a few weeks. The kittens vaccination programme should therefore start from about 8 weeks of age, although the exact timing and content of the vaccinations can be tailored to the needs of the particular cat, as determined by the veterinarian. If the kittens were orphaned, and hence never received colostrum, they will have gained no protective immunity from their mother, and so may need to be vaccinated early, perhaps from 23 weeks of age. Most cats are vaccinated against feline enteritis and the viruses that cause cat flu. Others are also vaccinated against feline leukaemia virus infection and/or chlamydophila disease.

See vaccinating your cat

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How Do I Feed Orphaned Kittens

Most kittens will suckle on small pet nursing bottles, also known as pet nursers. When bottle fed, kittens will nurse until they are full and then reject the bottle.

Be sure the opening in the nipple restricts the outflow of fluid to one drop at a time in order to avoid a flow rate that is too rapid for the kitten. When the flow rate is too rapid, it can lead to aspiration, pneumonia, and/or death.

When feeding, hold the kitten in a horizontal, head-neutral position. If the kitten is too weak to suckle, your veterinarian can show you alternative feeding methods and assist in tube feeding if needed.

Handling kittens during feeding contributes to critical socialization.

Signs Of Malnutrition In A Newborn Kitten

A kitten in good health will between breastfeeding sessions and will wake up when their mother encourages them to so, when they start to scream and actively seeks the teat.

When meals are not enough cats wake more frequently and moan. They progressively become inactive and do not gain enough weight. The most frequent complications from malnutrition are diarrhea, dehydration, hypoglycemia, and hypothermia.

Any kitten that is under-fed or rejected by their mother must be assisted quickly.

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How Much To Bottle Feed A Kitten

Newborn kittens should be fed every 2 to 3 hours. Kittens who are 2 to 3 weeks in age need to eat every 4 to 6 hours. See how much to feed your kitten for every age with this feeding chart. Avoid overfeeding, which can cause digestive problems.

When your kitten is about 4 weeks old you can begin offering a small bit of formula on a spoon, slowly mixing in a bit of canned food to start the weaning process. Until kittens are eating solid food on their own, you may need to continue bottle-feeding several times a day to keep them healthy. During and after weaning, offer a shallow bowl of fresh water at all times.

Do Newborn Kittens Need Special Bedding

How to Safely Bottle Feed a Kitten

You can use a simple box with soft blankets to contain the kitten. For warmth, I would suggest using a warm water bottle wrapped in a towel. Simply put it between two blankets that line the entire box. I would discourage people from using a heating pad, because its easier for the kitten to overheat that way.

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Weaning Litter Box Training And Well Growing Up

At 4-5 weeks, introduce a small box or pan with kitty litter to your kittens enclosure. To teach your kitten to use it, put them in the box and use their front paws to make a scraping motion in the sand. Whats especially helpful is if you catch your kitten eliminating somewhere they shouldnt, you can pick the kitten up and put them in the litter box. Also, begin offering semi-solid foods at this age. Wet kitten food and moistened kitten chow can be left in the enclosure at all times so your kitten can begin to experiment with it. Change it out frequently as it will spoil quickly, or your kitten may eliminate in it.

Once your kitten is interested in eating independently, continue to offer bottle feedings 4-5 times a day. You will probably notice your kitten becoming decreasingly interested in the bottle as they begin to eat more on their own.

Your kitten should be weaned at 6-8 weeks, litter box trained, and ready to start their kitten vaccinations! Hooray! Call us to set a time to have these done and enjoy your successful journey into the world of orphan kitten raising!

Spoon Feeding And Dropper Feeding

Spoon feeding is slow and requires great practice. Each spoonful must be gently poured into the kittens mouth. The kittens head must not be elevated since newborn kittens do not have a welldeveloped gag reflex, and the lungs can easily be filled with milk.

Dropper feeding is similar to spoon feeding, but a little quicker and cleaner.

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When Do Newborns Regulate Breathing

Within a few months, most of the irregularities of newborn breathing resolve themselves. Some newborn breathing issues are more common in the first few days, such as transient tachypnea. But after 6 months, most breathing issues are probably due to allergies or a short-term illness like the common cold.

At A Glance: Best Kitten Foods Of 2022

Important Tips for Feeding Newborn Kittens

In the comparison table below, weve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. Youll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

  • One of the most protein-packed kitten foods on the market
  • Ultra-soft pate texture is easy for kittens to eat
  • Calorie-dense recipe to fuel growth and development
  • Rich in animal-based protein from chicken, beef, and salmon
  • Soft canned food offers palatable texture and hydration
  • Very low carbohydrate content
  • Wild Pacific salmon as the first ingredient
  • Supplemented with two concentrated sources of animal protein
  • Herring and salmon oils for omega fatty acids
  • Features high-quality animal protein as the main ingredient
  • Hydrating canned food with a strong reputation for palatability
  • One of the most affordable options for kitten food
  • Made primarily with animal-based protein sources
  • Contains menhaden fish oil for DHA
  • Highly palatable and hydrating canned food
  • Made primarily with animal-based protein sources
  • Formulated for all life stages
  • Highly palatable, soft texture is easy for kittens to eat
  • Made primarily from nourishing sources of animal protein
  • Hydrating and highly palatable canned food
  • Calorie-dense at 122 calories per 3-ounce can
  • Primarily made with high-quality animal-based protein
  • Supplemented with fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids like DHA
  • Calorie-dense option to fuel kitten growth and development

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Heat & Bedding For Newborn Kittens

Kittens can get the chills easily, which can be life-threatening. From the moment you find them, keep the kittens warm and watch out for signs of chilling . If you have nothing else on hand, use your own body heat to warm up a cold kitten, and rub her gently to aid circulation.

Neonatal kittens cannot control their own body temperature until they are at least 3 weeks old. And its very important to hold off on bottle feeding until the kittens have completely warmed up.

At home, build a soft nest with a heating pad that is completely covered with a blanket or towel. Make sure that kittens can move away from the heat if they want. Change the bedding daily or when they have accidents. A kitten can chill if she gets wet, so never submerge kittens in water.

If a kitten needs to be cleaned up, wash only certain parts of her little body with a washcloth. Be sure to always fully dry with a hair dryer and towel.

Cleaning And Flea Control

You should also check their ears regularly for dirt and especially after initial rescue ear mites. Dirt can be cleaned gently with a cotton ball or swab. Consult your vet if you find the tell-tale ear mite coffee-ground type dirt.

If you find fleas or flea dirt on kittens of any age, you must get them flea-free as soon as possible. Young kittens can easily get anemia from flea infestation and really endanger its life. First, use a flea comb to remove as much of the dirt and fleas from the fur as you can. Ask your vet for a flea spray thats okay to use on very young kittens. Always read the warnings on any flea product to confirm at which age it is safe! Place the kitten on a towel for about 20 minutes, and then discard the towel with the dead and dying fleas that have come from the kitten. After using the spray, give the kitten a bath in gentle or surgical soap.

If you dont have a safe flea spray, you can wash the kitten with a gentle dishwashing soap like Dawn or Palmolive , or a citrus-based shampoo, and comb all the fleas out afterwards. Make sure water temperature is lukewarm so as not to chill the kitten. Dry the kitten, if old enough, with a blow dryer or you can towel-dry it, then put it in a carrier and aim the blow dryer into it the carrier to gently dry the kitten with warm, circulating air.

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How Many Calories Should A Kitten Eat

How many calories should a kitten eat? is one of the most common questions asked by people that are thinking about getting a kitten, or are trying to feed their kitten better. It may seem like a simple question but it is actually quite complex. The answer to this question depends on several factors including the size and breed of your cat, its age and its metabolism.

Birth Mother Or Surrogate

How to feed newborn kittens

If the kittens are strays, yet being cared for by the mother cat, she will do the work of raising them and in most cases, will do a better job than humans who attempt to step in and bottle-feed. Bottle-feeding should be a last resort for kittens who are not otherwise nursing. It is a good idea to schedule a veterinary checkup to make sure everyone’s healthy if the mama cat is docile enough to allow it. Some stray cats are not comfortable with human handling, and this can be especially stressful for new mothers. It is best to let the mama cat have space to feel safe to care for her new babies. Provide the mother cat with access to unlimited fresh water and food and give her a safe, quiet space where she can be alone with her kittens. Monitor the kittens to ensure they are all nursing, gaining weight, and staying warm. The rest is up to her.

If you encounter newborn kittens without a mother, or a mother who cannot nurse, you may need to act as the mother and provide the kittens’ basic needs to ensure their survival. This requires round-the-clock care, at first, as if you just brought home a newborn baby.

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Tips For Safely Bottle

  • The kitten should lay on its belly with its legs comfortably splayed out. Avoid placing the kitten on its side or back during feeding as this puts your kitten at risk. By laying on their belly, your kitten is automatically placed in a natural nursing position that is safe for them.
  • Keep the kitten warm before feeding so that they can digest the milk replacement at a natural rate. You do not want to overheat them, but rather provide a heating source that replicates their mothers body heat.
  • Keep a journal or digital copy of the feeding schedule so that you can monitor how much formula you are feeding the kitten. It may also be a good idea to set alarms so that you can determine when the next feeding should be.
  • Prepare the formula in advance so that you do not accidentally rush and miss a step during the process. Your kitten relies on this formula for its health and vitality, so care should be taken when preparing the formula.
  • Care for the kitten after feeding. They will feel tired and sleep, so keep them warm and protected. If you only have one kitten, use a rolled-up blanket or plush toy to provide them with some social companionship. Kittens feel better when they are huddled together, and this also keeps them comfortable.

Weeks Two And Three Feeding Schedules

A 2 to 3-week old kitten will still need to be fed every 2-3 hours and it should consume at least 1/2 tablespoon of formula or milk during each meal. If a kitten is nursing from its mother, you’ll have to depend on how much the kitten weighs to know whether or not it is consuming enough food. Between days 8 through 18, its weight should increase to about 10 oz. and it will begin to crawl around shortly after its eyes open.

By the end of week 3, a kitten will be able to stand up and will have begun to interact with its littermates. Playing, ear-biting, wrestling, and exploring behaviors will begin and are important parts of socialization.

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How To Feed Kittens With A Bottle

Bottle feeding kittens may not be the easiest option when they are very young. Many people find that an eye dropper or small syringe works best at first. Once kittens are a bit older, you may still need to try several different nipple styles before you find the one that your kitten uses best.

When youre ready to feed, first make sure the kitten is warm. If their ears, feet or mouth are cool to the touch, they could be hypothermic and unable to digest their food. Under normal circumstances, kittens will snuggle up with their mom and littermates, but hand-raised kittens dont have this natural source of warmth. They must be housed in a warm, draft-free environment with adequate bedding and access to a safe, hot water bottle or heating pad.

Next, place the kitten on a towel on your lap in a normal, belly down position. Never feed a kitten on their back because they may inhale rather than swallow the milk! Support the back of the head with one hand while you guide the nipple into the mouth with the other. Hold the bottle in a tipped position so any air inside is at the point farthest away from the nipple. Watch or gently feel the kittens throat to ensure they are suckling and swallowing. Your veterinarian can give you tips on bottle feeding kittens if you run into trouble.

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