Tips for Looking After Kittens

Whether you're kitten sitting, acquired a new pet or found a stray, looking after kittens requires time and patience. Kittens are still learning expected behaviors. Their inquisitive nature often gets them into potentially dangerous situations. It's up to their caretaker to keep them out of harm's way.

Looking after Newborn Kittens

If the mother cat disappears or shuns her kittens, those looking after kittens need to bottle feed them every few hours. For the first week, a kitten doesn't open its eyes. All they tend to do is eat and sleep. Lining a basket or box with pee pads helps with the clean up of any messes. Keep the kittens in a warm area away from frequent visitors.

By three to four weeks, most mother cats start weening their babies. By week four, offer canned food to get the kitten's started on cat food. It's also important after every feeding them that you stimulate their urge to go to the bathroom by wiping their bottom with a warm wet washcloth and placing them in a litter box. Typically, a mother cat uses her tongue, so the warm washcloth is important.

Feeding Schedules When Looking after Kittens

Most kittens eat a few times a day. They're accustomed to multiple feedings. As they switch to cat foods, enlarge the meals slightly over the next few months. By the time they are a year old, they should be fed twice a day, usually at breakfast and dinner.

Kitten Proofing Your House

After three weeks, most kittens start showing a curiosity for their surroundings. At this point, anyone looking after kittens should use baby gates to keep the kittens confined to one area. Remove any potential hazards such as cleaners and electrical cords.

Kittens get into tight spaces, so it pays to crawl around the floor and spot troublesome areas. It's not uncommon to find a kitten has curled up inside the bottom of a recliner or gotten behind an entertainment center. Putting pillows around to block these areas will help.

Stopping Destructive Habits

Looking after kittens involves training. If left to their own devices, kittens will happily climb curtains, shred furniture, destroy door frames and dig at carpeting. Corrugated cardboard boxes, found in many pet stores, sprinkled with catnip lure cats into digging and scratching at the cardboard's surface. When the kitten uses the box, give him a reward. Eventually, he'll happily use the box and nothing else.

To prevent a cat from climbing curtains, invest in a cat tree. Kittens love to climb and a carpeted cat tree becomes a fun attraction for cats of any age.

Keep the Litter Box Clean

For sanitary purposes, you should clean a litter box daily. Scoopable litter makes clean up easy. Sweep up any kitty litter that is on the flooring around and then mop the floor. This keeps dirty litter from getting tracked in your home.

If you're keeping the kitten, kittenhood is a perfect time to consider toilet training. Easy-to-use kits help you acclimate your kitten to the sounds and shape of a toilet. In a few weeks, you won't need litter boxes anymore.