Newborn kittens need special care and attention up until around four months of age. Knowing how to take care of newborn kittens ensures that you raise a healthy litter, working in harmony with the mother cat. In some cases, you may find yourself facing the emergency of a newborn litter without a mother to provide the kittens’ basic needs. In this case, we will also provide tips and guidelines on what you should do.
Feeding and Nutrition
Feeding is of course the most urgent concern when we talk about newborn kittens and how to take care of them. The mother cat will be their primary source of sustenance during the first weeks of their lives. It’s absolutely important that you make sure to provide nutritious meals so that she’s healthy and strong enough to care for her kittens.
How do you take care of newborn kittens without their mother? In case you’re helping a homeless mother and her litter, offer the mother cat food and water from a safe distance away, once or twice a day.
If you’re caring for an abandoned or orphaned litter of kittens, you’d have to make special preparations for feeding. Cow’s milk isn’t recommended for feeding kittens because it might cause some digestive problems. There are commercial milk replacer formulas available in pet stores and you may give this to the kittens.
Starting at 3-4 weeks old, the kittens will gradually wean from their mother’s milk. This detailed kitten feeding chart would be helpful in knowing the types and right amount of food to provide for kittens according to how old they are:
The older the kittens get, the less frequent their feeding times. In learning how to take care of newborn baby kittens, it’s also essential to monitor their weight. Using a scale, weigh the kittens every week to make sure that they are growing at a healthy rate.
Handling and Protection
Handling is an important consideration when learning how to take care of newborn kittens. Make sure that the kittens have a warm and cozy place to sleep in. It could be a box or a huge carrier lined with blankets and kept dry at all times. If you’re wondering how to take care of newborn kittens with mother, you may consider the mother cat’s preference on where the kitty bed would be located. She will also be spending much of her time there, nursing her babies. Nursing cats prefer a dark, quiet, and safe corner where they could feel safe and won’t be disturbed.
If the kittens in your care don’t have a mother who will care for them, your priority should be to keep them dry and warm, protected from the elements and potential predators. A heating pad can help provide them warmth even when you’re not around. If you don’t have a heating pad, wrap a towel around a bottle or a container filled with hot water, and place it near the kittens’ beddings.
It’s understandable that you want to check in on how the kittens are doing from time to time. But the best way to handle newborn kittens (at least, in the first two weeks after birth) is to leave them alone. This is the time for them to bond with the mother cat and their siblings. Felines are territorial creatures and some mother cats have rejected their young or act aggressively if they see their kittens being handles too much.
When the kittens are at two weeks old or above, it would be a good idea to start familiarizing them with being handled by humans. Remember that kittens are very fragile, so you need to be as gentle as possible when handling the kittens. If you have small children wanting to try holding a kitten, teach them to do it gently. As much as possible, don’t allow them to touch the kittens unsupervised. Allow the mother cat to sniff you first, before you touch or handle the kittens
The earlier you can schedule a vet checkup for the kittens, the better it would be for their health and wellness. At around six weeks, the kittens can start getting vaccinations, which are usually administered every three weeks until they are four months old. Boosters will be recommended by the vet at one year. Vaccinations are important for building your kittens’ immune system against diseases like rabies, distemper, and leukemia. The vet will also give recommendations on how to protect the baby cats from worms, fleas, and parasites.
Litter Box Training
During the first months after giving birth, the mother cat will be responsible in helping her babies whenever they urinate and defecate. Let your cat lick her babies’ genital areas as this is her way of cleaning them up. If the mother cat is not around to do this, you may assist the kittens by using a wet cloth or gauze to clean them up when they pee or poop.
When your kittens are four months old, you can then begin training them to use the litter box. Each time after feeding, put each kitten inside the box one at a time, allowing enough time to finish using the box. If you notice any of the kittens not urinating or defecating on a regular basis, you may consider consulting your vet immediately.
Socializing Your Kittens
Socializing kittens should also be given due attention, whether you plan to raise all the kittens at home or prepare them for adoption. Proper care and handling, visits to the vet, and playing with the kittens would allow them to grow comfortable in the presence of humans and more adaptable to meeting new people and experiences.
Kittens are so small, adorable and very delicate. Caring for them is actually not too hard once you know how to take care of mother cat and newborn kittens. As long as you have patience and remember the basics about feeding, handling, socialization, preventive care, and toilet training, you will be raising strong, healthy kittens in no time.