Caring for Newborn Kittens

Newborn kittens are dependent on their mothers or surrogate human mothers right from the first few hours of birth to a few weeks of age. Kittens don't have survival skills until they're a few weeks old. They're unable to see or hear for the first two weeks. Since kittens have low immunity, they should be appropriately vaccinated and cared for if they are brought into a new home.

Newborn Kitten Care

  • Pet owners can help the queen with supplemental feeding if the litter is large, or if a few kittens are neglected. The amount of food given should be carefully measured. It's best to follow your vet's instructions.
  • Mother cats should lick the newborn kitten's genitals to stimulate excretion of waste. If this does not happen, the genitals can be cleaned with a soft, moistened cloth.
  • Feeding should be conducted every four hours and the cleaning of genitals should be performed at intervals of two hours.
  • The litter box should be kept very clean. It's best to clean all cat bedding and gently wipe kittens with a wet cloth to clean them.
  • Cat food should be introduced to kittens at 4 weeks of age.
  • Consider maintaining a chart to note down the weight of each kitten after birth.
  • If you notice unusual behavior such as crying while feeding, it's important to discuss it with the vet.
  • Feral kitten litters should be collected and given food, water and shelter. Vet or animal rescue help may be necessary.
  • If the mother cat is sick and the kittens are abandoned, make sure you keep the kittens in a warm environment. Cardboard boxes lined with towels are ideal.

Care for Newborn and Orphaned Kittens

Kittens cared for by surrogate human mothers should be fed kitten formula. It's available in bottles with tiny nipples that have to be pierced. As kittens advance in age, they should be given litter boxes with clay litter. They should receive core vaccinations to prevent them from contracting diseases such as calcivirus, feline distemper and rhinotracheitis.

Orphaned kittens should be given love and affection as part of their socialization skills. They should be held and caressed by human caretakers. Abandoned kittens may also be kept with a foster cat, as they will learn social skills along with their siblings, and acquire age appropriate kitten development. Although this is very beneficial to the abandoned kitten, it's necessary to keep healthy pets away from sick or diseased cats and kittens.

Kitten Training

Newborn kittens should be handled very carefully. Children should be taught to maintain hygiene after touching or playing with pets. Kittens, especially those orphaned, should also be trained to prevent biting. Caretakers should get them accustomed to people, children and other pets, as this will reinforce their social skills and prevent any phobias from developing.

Although newborn kitten care is challenging, they grow at a rapid pace and develop into independent pets within a short period of time.