Health Considerations for Raising Kittens

Raising kittens can be an exciting prospect but it also comes with some challenges. As newborn animals, kittens are very weak and vulnerable. With the right kind of care, they will grow healthy and strong.

Food and Milk

When kittens are first born, they will rely on their mother's milk for their nutritional needs. Occasionally, a mother might reject one of her kittens. In this situation, you will have to hand feed the kitten yourself and try to reintroduce it to the mother.

Pregnant and lactating cats are at a risk of eclampsia. This is a serious condition, caused by low blood calcium levels, and can be life-threatening to the mother. While the mother is producing milk for her kittens, her body is under an increased demand for calcium. In some cases, the body channels most of its calcium into the mother's milk and leaves too little in her body.

The kittens will be able to survive on their mother's milk for about 2 months. At this point, the mother cat will usually start naturally weaning them herself. It is a good idea to provide the kittens with mashed kitten food from the fourth week onwards. They will start investigating the food and will eventually copy the way their mother eats.


Kittens are born blind and cannot regulate their own body temperatures for the first few weeks of life. Although their mother will try and take care of this naturally, you can help her.

Warmth is especially important to newborn kittens. If they become too cold, they will be unable to feed. If they can't ingest food then they can quickly develop hypoglycaemia and die. Normally, they'll be fine with their mother's body heat. However, if it's winter or you think that they're not getting enough heat from their mother, you can place a warming lamp next to their crate. It's also a good idea to line their living space with soft materials, such as bedding and blankets, so they can't injure themselves.

One of the most important things is to keep their environment clean. Newborn kittens' immune systems are very underdeveloped, and they will be far more susceptible to the effects of germs and bacteria than an adult cat.

Veterinary Care

Once the kittens have been born, it's important that a vet can see them as soon as possible. Once they've been given a clean bill of health, you can start thinking about vaccinations.

Kittens receive their first vaccinations when they are around 10 weeks old. Before this time, they're ingesting their mother's milk, and are protected against the relevant diseases through her. This is why it's important that your adult cat's vaccinations are kept up-to-date too.

After the initial set of vaccinations, your vet will be able to advise you on when the next course should be. It's crucial to keep within the vaccination schedule, especially while the kittens are very young, or they will be susceptible to serious feline diseases.