While raising kittens can be a demanding task, it can also be pleasurable and fulfilling to see them grow and mature. In this piece, I’ll walk you through caring for newborn kitten – like feeding, performing health checks, and socializing a kitten, both with and without a mother., as well as caring for the mother cat.
- About Newborn Kittens
- Caring for a Newborn Kitten Week by Week
- kittens 1 day old
- How to Take Care of a Kitten at 1 Week
- Feeding a Newborn Kitten
- Kittens at Week 2
- Care for the Kittens at 2 Weeks Old
- Kittens at Week 3
- Caring for a Kitten at 3 Weeks
- Kitten at Week 4
- Kitten at Week 5
- Cares Kitten Require at Week 5:
- Kitten at Week 6
- Kitten Care at Week 6
About Newborn Kittens
For proper care, you must understand that newborn kittens are extremely vulnerable and susceptible to fleas, ticks, and disease. You also have to know the features and characteristics of a newborn kitten, and the care they need from week to week. This knowledge will help you know when a kitten needs medical attention, especially if you notice unusual behaviour.
Caring for a Newborn Kitten Week by Week
Newborn kittens have unique traits and attributes during the first few days and first week of their lives, including the following:
kittens 1 day old
- Even though the weight of kittens at birth differs from each other depending on the breed of the cat, the kitten’s size, etc., on average, kittens should weigh between 2.9 to 3.88 ounces, that is, 80 to 110 grams at birth.
- Kittens are born without teeth, eyes closed, ears flat or folded, and the umbilical cord still attached.
- Cannot crawl or walk but can only wriggle and squirm around.
- They cannot regulate their body temperature well but rely on their mother’s or artificial warmth.
- Cannot make a loud sound, but they can make a soft mewing sound when hungry or uncomfortable.
- Rely on the mother’s cat milk for nutrition and cannot take solid kitten food.
- Rely on their sense of touch and smell to locate their mother and littermates.
- Have a strong nursing reflex and will instinctively seek their mother’s nipple for feeding.
How to Take Care of a Kitten at 1 Week
Because new kittens are so delicate and vulnerable in their first week of life, especially if they are orphans, they require cautious and devoted care. The following care is vital for week-one kittens:
You need to weigh them daily to ensure they are gaining about 7 to 14 grams daily, as this determines their healthiness and level of response to feeding.
Let them remain with their mother full-time, as she will provide them with all the food, warmth, and care they need. However, you will still need to observe the mother cat to ensure she is nursing the kittens as regularly as she ought.
Create a calm nest for the kittens with soft and warm bedding in a quiet and secure space where the mother and her kittens are safe and comfortable. Also, reduce unnecessary interactions and handling of kittens to avoid stress. Remember to keep the kittens and their beddings clean, especially in the absence of a mother.
Feeding a Newborn Kitten
Many of the tasks associated with feeding, stimulating the kittens to eliminate waste, and keeping the kitten warm are naturally handled by the mother cat if she is present. However, you still need to keep a close eye on both the mother and the kittens and offer assistance when required.
Always be on the lookout for any symptoms of diseases, such as diarrhoea, lethargy, or difficulty breathing, as well as any signs of discomfort, weakness, loss of appetite, or the mother neglecting or struggling to care for her kittens. If you detect any of these, get your VET help immediately.
Give adequate nutritious diet to the nursing mother cat to keep her stay fit.
To feed a newborn kitten without a mother, you would need kitten milk formula and a syringe for the baby kitten. We already discussed how to care for an orphan kitten without the mother in a previous article.
Ultimately, the life and welfare of the week-old kitten, as well as its eventual socialization, depend on proper care. Therefore, while the mother cat is very important in the first week of the kittens’ lives, your job is to help out when needed. Get in touch with the veterinarian right away for a health examination and advice on how to best care for the kittens’ unique needs if you have any worries or if they don’t seem to be prospering.
Kittens at Week 2
Kittens at two weeks old are still quite sensitive and in the early phases of growth. They possess some of the following traits and behaviours:
- Eyes are not fully open and look blue; at this stage, their vision is still developing, therefore they respond more to touch and sound.
- Ears start to unfold, which makes them start hearing sounds, though not very well as their hearing is still developing.
- Start motor coordination by taking a few shaky steps.
- They start raising their canines, but they aren’t ready for heavy meals just yet.
- They sleep so much at this age, but it is perfectly normal for them to sleep a lot, as it is essential for their growth and overall well-being.
- They still depend on their mother or primary caregiver for food, warmth, and cleanliness.
- At week two kittens, socialization begins; they become more aware of their surroundings, start responding to people’s presence, and begin to interact more with their siblings and less with other animals.
- At week two, kittens ought to weigh around 8.8–12.34 ounces, which is identical to 250–350 grams, contingent upon the kitten. Now, kittens should typically gain weight because it is a sign of a positive turn in health and growth.
It’s important to note that not every kitten will attain these developmental stages at precisely the same time; please keep in mind that individual kittens may grow at somewhat distinct rates. Always keep your eyes on the kittens and don’t delay to call a veterinarian if you notice any sign of ill health.
Care for the Kittens at 2 Weeks Old
At about fourteen days old (two weeks), kittens are still exceptionally delicate and require the following dedicated care:
· Keep the kitten away from distractions and loud noises in a quiet and safe area.
· They should be weighed from day to day, and their weight needs to add 10–15 grams daily.
If the kittens are orphans, you will need to feed them with kitten formula every two to three hours, including during the night, using a bottle or syringe made specifically for feeding kittens and an appropriate kitten milk replacer; stimulate them to eliminate (urinate or defecate) after each feeding by gently rubbing their genital and anal areas in a clock-wise direction using a warm, damp soft cloth or cotton ball; and maintain their hygiene by using a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe the kittens to keep them clean.
And because a two-week-old kitten cannot regulate their body temperature effectively, especially orphaned kittens, it is your responsibility as a caregiver to create for them an ambient temperature of about 75–80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is equivalent to 23.89–26.67 degrees Celsius. You can use a heating pad, cover a water bottle with a towel, or use a heat lamp to ensure this temperature. Always give the kittens the option to move away from the heating point if it gets too hot for them.
Kitten socialization starts in week two; this involves spending a short time with them at intervals, and while you are with them, gently hold the kitten to yourself and give it a soft touch at the back and sides but not at the belly as you talk to it with a soft and reassuring tone while paying attention to the cues. If they are showing signs of discomfort or attempting to escape, leave them alone and try again later. It’s usually good to socialize kittens among their litters if there are any.
Always observe the kittens for any sign of distress, illness, or abnormality, and contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Veterinary checks are important at each stage of kittens’ development.
As the young kitten continues to grow and develop, you will notice the following significant developments during the third week of its life:
- Experience significant growth spurts, including fur and vocalization.
- At week three, kittens weigh 350–4550, which is approximately 12.35–15.88 ounces.
- Eyes are typically fully open and may still appear blue.
- Ears unfold completely, and they can hear better and respond to sounds in their environment.
- Canines and incisors begin to appear. They might start licking or tasting soft, wet food at this point, but you should be aware that they are not yet developed enough to eat solid food.
- They can now relatively easily walk and stand, curiously discovering their environment.
- At week three, you can be able to determine the gender of kittens.
- They still need external warmth, though they can regulate a level of body temperature.
Caring for a Kitten at 3 Weeks
Caring for three-week-old kittens involves meeting their basic needs while gradually introducing them to more aspects of their environment. Here are key aspects of care for three-week-old kittens:
Check their weight daily. An average weight gain of 15 to 20 grams per day is expected in a three-week-old kitten, which is a sign of healthy development.
Use a suitable bottle feed or syringe to feed them with a kitten milk replacer every three to four hours. By now, you may begin weaning them by introducing them to wet food. You can either place the food on their plate and let them taste it on their own, or you can mix the wet food with the formula as you feed them.
Even though they are getting better at regulating their body temperature, three-week-old kittens still require assistance to keep their ambient temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kittens at this age can play a lot, which is good for their socialization, so take time to play with them for at least two hours daily to make them bond with you and their litters as they build confidence around humans. Introduce them to games and soft toys for them to interact with.
Most kittens will begin to eliminate waste on their own by week three, though some may still require stimulation. However, it is acceptable to introduce them to litter training at this age. Put a small, shallow litter box with a layer of non-clumping litter in it. While some may not be able to use it independently, others may use it instinctively. Still, others may use it after their mother has shown them how to use it; and others may require your stimulation and placement in the litter box after feeding or whenever they need to go potty.
You can also introduce your young kittens to grooming around week three, which is an essential component of their upkeep. Using a soft brush, gently scrub the kitten’s back and sides to get rid of any dead hair and grime. If required, give them a warm water bath with a light shampoo, and then pat them dry with a gentle cloth. Gently clean the outside part of their ears with a soft cloth or cotton ball, remove any pus from their eyes, and use small, sharp scissors to cut their nails. This doesn’t just help to keep the kittens clean but to keep them healthy as well.
Remember that kittens can develop at slightly different speeds at any stage, so keep an eye on their behaviour at all times. Additionally, don’t delay inviting a veterinarian for health checks, especially if you see any anomalies.
Kitten at Week 4
The following are the features and characteristics you may see in kittens at four weeks of age:
- At week four, kittens may weigh 340 to 450.50, which is equivalent to 12 to 16 ounces on average.
- The canine continues to develop; eyes are fully open and blue; ears are fully erected; coordination improved but limited; smell senses developed; and it has fuzzy fur.
- At four weeks old, kittens can transition from milk to solid food.
- Can regulate a good body temperature.
- Feed more, but less frequently.
- Eliminate independently with little or no stimulation.
- More inquisitive about their surroundings
- Become more vocal as they express themselves through meowing and other sounds.
- Improve socialization, grooming, and the use of litter boxes.
At four weeks old, kittens can run, jump, and play more with their littermates and humans, confidently and happily exploring their environment. They may begin to chew on objects to ease the discomfort associated with tooth growth, and while they can feed on solid food at this time, they can still supplement from the mother’s milk or bottle-feed with their milk replacer at less frequent intervals. Finally, even though they can control their body temperature, you will still need to provide them with outside heat to help them stay between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius (75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit).
Care for Baby Kittens at Week 4
Provide them with calm bedding in a noiseless room while ensuring proper protection for kittens to prevent their running away.
Check their weight daily, and they should be able to weigh 14 grams or more daily, though the weight may vary from kitten to kitten.
Improve the socialization, weaning, grooming, and litter training processes, and be patient with them as they learn gradually.
Maintain their ambient temperature as stated above.
Feed them solid food while supplementing it with milk replacer formula for orphaned kittens every four to five hours, including nighttime for orphaned kittens. Don’t forget to guarantee their hydration by providing them with fresh and clean water.
Schedule and attend kitten vaccination and dewormed appropriately, as advised by your VET.
Kitten at Week 5
Kittens at week 5 are grown-up, though not an adult cat yet. other characteristics include
- Weigh 450–550 grams (15.87–19.4 ounces) on average.
- More active and playful.
- Can regulate their body temperature.
- Hearing and smell senses are fully developed, while vision sensory, though well-developed, is still developing.
- Feed on solid food and urinate or deficiency independently, using the litter box on their own.
- They lose their baby teeth (bicuspids); they continue to chew on objects to appease their itching gums.
- Increased coordination.
- Become more socialized, weaned, and begin self-grooming.
- Begin to manifest their personalities.
Cares Kitten Require at Week 5:
Ensureproper protection and safety of the kittens, by taking away every hazardous object and covering every opening to prevent them from running away. Remember, they are more energetic and well-coordinated to jump and run at this time.
Week five kittens should gain 14 grams (0.49 ounces) as you check them daily.
While kittens at week five can generate a level of body temperature, they can’t regulate it when it’s too cold or too hot; therefore, ensure a moderate room temperature for them. A lukewarm kind of temperature—not too cold, not too hot.
Give them a high-nutritional diet specifically high in protein and fat to support their growth and development. You can make it easy for them by mixing it with a kitten milk replacement since they are not accustomed to wet food yet. Feed them four to five meals a day, small but frequent feedings. When you feed them, place a shallow water dish there to keep their hydration up.
Socialize them further; introduce new people, places and things to see, sounds heard or smells inhaled. In addition, give them age-appropriate toys such as puzzle toys, catnip toys, scratching posts, soft toys, and balls.
While they are still getting used to the litter box, you can also introduce them to a shallow litter pot so they can learn how to use it simultaneously.
Please be reminded that, unless you see symptoms of illness, weekly veterinary examinations are not required for kittens in good health.
Kitten at Week 6
Six-week-old and older kittens are considered adult cats and can now live independently with regular feeding, grooming, and veterinary care. They are also able to care for themself.. The following features are common:
- Continue to grow in size and have an average weight of 635.6–771.8 grams (0.7–0.77 kilograms or 1.4–1.7 pounds).
- They grow up with more independence and tend to stay long away from their mother’s fellow litters.
- They can run, jump and climb effortlessly indicating a well-polished coordination.
- At six weeks of age, kittens can see reasonably well, but their vision is still developing and when fully developed can see far better than humans.
- They have highly developed hearing and can hear some sounds that humans cannot. They also have incredibly keen senses of smell, significantly stronger than human ability to detect even minute amounts of scents.
- Grow most of their adult teeth.
- The weaning process is about to finish, as they are more used to solid food and can bite on harder foods.
Curiosity is a characteristic that distinguishes both cats and kittens; it is not limited to the sixth week of life. They enjoy exploring their environment and are naturally curious.
By week six, kittens can control their body temperature, but you will still need to give them a warm bed or blanket to cuddle in.
Kittens can urinate or deficiency on their own at six weeks old, using the litter box by themselves, and have a strong inclination to bury their waste afterwards.
Kitten Care at Week 6
At week six, kittens are still in their developmental stage and require proper care to ensure their growth and health. Here are some tips for taking care of your kitten at this stage:
- Kittens should be weaned off of milk at six weeks of age and given a high-quality, nourishing meal four to five times a day, along with fresh water to stay hydrated.
- Supplied with a cosy blanket or a cat bed for a restful night’s sleep.
- Give them a range of toys to encourage both their mental and physical growth.
- Even though six-week-old kittens are more adept at grooming themselves, you can still brush them occasionally.
- Maintain the litter box clean.
- The process of socializing kittens is steady and gradual; it goes beyond the kitten stage of life to adulthood and even throughout the cat’s life.
- Monitor the kitten for any sign of ill health and loss of appetite
kittens will continue to grow and develop until they are beyond six weeks of age. they can practically keep on living on their own for the most part as long as feeding and medical care continue. They become more curious, and better at self-grooming, and continue to socialize. Keep in mind, that the first rule of taking care of newborn kittens is to know their special characteristics at each stage they go through.
The first six weeks of a kitten’s life are an active and critical phase in its development. Developmental milestones from the neonatal stage all through to its bustling sixth week, each step pushes a little closer toward adulthood. Care, nutrition, and socialization during these early weeks determine the future health of an old cat. Regular veterinary checkups are needed to monitor their progress and see if they have any special needs or worries. And as you care for the kittens, remember the mother cat needs a nutritious diet and medical care to stay healthy.
Q. What kind of machine is suitable for weighing kittens?
A. You can utilize a digital scale, such as a kitchen scale or a Pet scale
Q. How can I measure my kittens using a kitchen scale?
A. To keep the kitten stable, place it in a bowl on the scale. Always remember to tare the scale before recording the kitten’s weight. Weigh your kitten in grams to get the most precise measurement.