Newborn Kitten Care Tips

Newborn kitten care can be crucial to the survival of orphaned or abandoned kittens. Caring for newborn kittens is a time-consuming, exhausting job, but if done properly, it can help kittens will grow up into healthy, happy cats. Read on to learn more about caring for newborn kittens as a surrogate cat-mother.

Give Your Kittens a Nest

The first step to newborn kitten care is supplying the kittens with a safe, clean, cozy nest in which to live. A cat carrier, basket, or even cardboard box can serve as a home for newborn kittens. Make sure the sides of your box or basket are high enough to prevent the kittens rolling out, and line the box or basket with fresh, clean towels, sheets or blankets for their comfort and warmth. Keep the nest in a quiet place, isolated from other cats or household pets (to prevent the spread of disease to and from the kittens).

Newborn Kittens Need to Be Kept Warm

One of the most important parts of nurturing tiny baby kittens is keeping them warm, constantly. Newborn kittens can die rapidly if they aren't kept warm enough, especially if they are fed while experiencing low body temperature. Keep newborn kittens warm by supplying them with a heating pad, set to "Low," and wrapped in a heavy blanket or towel. 

Don't cover the entire bottom of the nest with the heating pad. Leave an unheated space so that your kittens have a place to go if they feel too warm. Keep the room in which your kittens live warm as well. Your kittens' body temperatures should be between 94 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit; make sure your kittens are always warm enough, especially before feeding.

Newborn Kittens Need Frequent Feeding

Newborn kittens need to eat every two hours, 24 hours a day. This means your kittens will require almost constant care, all day long and throughout the night. They must be fed kitten milk replacement, which can be purchased from a vet or pet supply store. 

You can feed newborn kittens from a tiny baby bottle made for the purpose, a eyedropper, or an oral syringe. If you are feeding with an eyedropper or oral syringe, be sure to place only very tiny drops of the formula on your kittens' tongues. Placing too much formula in a newborn kitten's mouth can cause it to choke. Your kittens can begin to eat softened kitten food at about three weeks of age.

Newborn Kittens Need Massages

You may have seen a mother cat vigorously licking her newborn kittens' abdomens after they nurse. That's because a newborn kitten's digestive tract isn't fully functioning on its own yet. The mother's tongue helps stimulate the bowels and kidneys to eliminate urine and feces from the body.

Replicate this newborn kitten care behavior by gently rubbing your kitten down with a warm, damp washcloth after feeding. Start with the abdomen, and move on to the rest of his body. Stroke and comb your newborn kittens often; it helps socialize them and gives them the physical contact they need to thrive.