Newborn Kitten Care: Where to Start

Newborn kittens are fragile and defenseless. Consequently, newborn kitten care is essential; otherwise the cat can die before reaching the milestone of 2 weeks.

Surrogate Mother

Ideally, a kitten should stay with his mother for up to 8 weeks after birth. If this is not possible, find a surrogate mother: another cat or a human. The task of the surrogate mother is to feed and take care of the kitten and to make him feel comfortable.

After Birth

Immediately after the birth the kittens are deaf and blind. They will be able to see and hear only after 2 weeks. Newborn kittens sleep and eat most of the time and cannot walk.

Newborn kittens are not yet able to will themselves to urinate or defecate. Usually, their mother helps them get rid of the waste by massaging the genital area.

Keep Warm

A kitten cannot control his body temperature. You need to keep the kitten in a warm environment to avoid hypothermia. Hyperthermia may cause low blood sugar and that may be fatal for a small cat.

Kitten Feeding

The mother can take care of feeding the kittens with milk-which contains the antibodies and the nutrients needed for the newborn kitten.

In case you are the "mother", you will need to do the bottle feeding. Choose a formula that is similar to natural cat milk. This milk needs to be high in protein content, vitamins and nutrients. Regular cow milk and soy milk do not contain the necessary nutrients for a kitten.

While they are 0 to 2 weeks old, feed the kittens 6 to 7 times a day. After that you can feed them 3 to 4 times per day. Place the kitten in an upright position when feeding. Make sure the kittens do not inhale the milk, as it may get in their lungs and cause complications.

Monitor the Weight

To make sure your kitten stays healthy, monitor his weight. As a rule, a kitten doubles his weight every two weeks until he is 10 weeks old.

How much milk is enough? Check if the belly is full. Bubbles around your kitten's mouth indicate that he had enough.

Diarrhea is usually a sign that you are over-feeding the kitten.

Health Issues

Kittens have a weak immune system and are vulnerable to diseases and parasites. The kitten can have worms, respiratory infections, eye infections or diarrhea. By closely monitoring your kitten, you can notice possible problems. Visit a vet to get the appropriate medication.

If possible, keep the kittens together with their mother for the first 6 to 8 weeks. They can learn how to play, hunt and develop less aggressive behavior. If a kitten gets a human mother, he will not be able to learn these skills.