It is best to allow a newborn kitten to be nursed by its mother during the first few months. The mother will be able to take care of the kitten in almost all areas. However, if the mother is not able to care for or has rejected the kitten, comprehensive care will need to be executed by the owner in order to ensure the kitten’s survival. Taking care of your new kitten is more than just feeding or cleaning after it. How you care for a kitten at its different growth stage will affect the way it socializes and interacts in the future. This article will help you in understanding the needs of growing your new kitten in its different growth stages.
0 – 4 weeks
Your kitten can only take in milk during this period of growth. Without its mother, it will need milk replacer such as Cimicat. It is important for the milk replacer to be formulated especially for kittens. Do not feed your kitten with cow or dog’s milk as the lactose will likely upset its stomach. If you do not have milk replacer at the moment when the kitten needed it, try feeding it with some cool boiled water using a dropper or syringe before you can get to buy a milk replacement at the vet clinic or pet store. You will need to feed your kitten using a kitten feeding bottle or syringe, both of which can also be bought from a pet store.
The kitten should be fed every two to three hours during the first two weeks of growth. The hours can be stretched out to three to four hours with an interval of six hours overnight for the subsequent two weeks.
To burb your kitten after each meal, you can either place it up straight against your shoulder, or put one hand under its belly with your palm against its abdomen and your thumb between its forelegs. Gently pat and rub its back as you would do to a baby.
The kittens would need help in eliminating their waste. To help stimulate the kitten to urinate and defecate, hold it over a litter box and rub its genital and anal region in one direction with a soft towel. To make the process more effective, you can wipe its bottom with a paper towel that was soaked in warm water before and after each meal prior to helping it eliminate its waste. If the kitten has difficulty urinating for 12 hours or has not defecated for more than two days, you should take it to the vet for a health check.
Kittens under two weeks of age will usually snuggle up to their mother in order to help regulate their body temperature. You can help simulate such situation by providing your young kitten with heat pad designed for kittens. The heat pad should come with a fleece cover. If it does not, you can use a towel to overlay it before allowing your kitten to come into contact with it. You should not allow your kitten to come into direct contact with the heat pad lest it suffers local burns. Once your kitten is able to regulate its own body temperature, it will slowly move away from the heat when it feels too hot.
Week 4 to 8
As your little kitten begins the weaning process from week 4 onwards, you can start leaving out kitten food for it to explore other food options. It should now also have constant access to a bowl of clean water. To help your kitten learn how to drink from a saucer, introduce it with the milk replacer it has been drinking. You can also mash up some wet kitten food with the milk replacer for a start as it progresses into consuming solid food.
Begin to build its socializing skills from week three onwards. Do this by handling the kitten every day. Introduce it to objects, people and sounds around the house, such as hair dryer, vacuum cleaner and children. Incorporate interactive play with cat toys. Do not use small objects as they may be potential choking hazards. Supervise the playtime as kittens and cats may bite off parts of the toys and swallow them. Avoid playing with your kitten using your fingers as it will associate them as toys and may continue to bite and scratch them even after it has become an adult.
To help your kitten learn how to use the litter box, simply place your kitten in the litter box after each meal. You can do the same when you observe it crouching or scratching the floor in preparation for pooping. Kittens are particular about cleanliness, thus, make sure you clean the litter box at least once a day. Otherwise, your kitten may choose to stop using it. When choosing a litter box, pick one with low sides for easy access. As kittens may eat litter clumps, choose non-clumping litter.
You can let your cat out into your garden to explore once your veterinarian has given it all its shots and verified that it is ready. Make sure that it is under your close supervision and knows the way home. You can choose to let your kitten out just before meal time or when you think it is a bit hungry. This allows you to entice it with its food when you are calling it back, hence reminding your kitten that its final destination will always be your home.
8 weeks and beyond
If you have gotten your kitten when it is at about 8 weeks old from a breeder or a shelter, ask for a blanket that has the scent of its mother or siblings. This will provide comfort for your kitten as it tries to settle into its new home.
Give your kitten the brand and type of kitten food it has been eating. Do this for the first few days before you introduce any changes to its food, so that your kitten will not have too many changes to deal with when it is trying to settle down in the new environment. When you do start to introduce a change in its food, do it gradually by replacing small quantity of her former food with the new one. Slowly increase the amount throughout the course of change. You can leave out a bowl of dry kibble all day; but if your kitten is eating wet food, serve its meal every six hours instead. Continue to feed your kitten with kitten food until it is one year of age.
Make clean water readily available for your kitten to drink. You can consider placing its water bowl in a different spot from its food bowl as cats tend to be more interested in the water that way. When getting your kitten to be familiarized with the new home, do it one room at a time. You can choose to just let it adapt to the surroundings where most of her facilities are first before allowing it to explore other rooms.
Give your kitten as much attention as you can through grooming and interactive play. This will help to promote a healthy growth that allows your kitten to become a well-socialized and friendly adult.
Another important aspect of having a cat in your home is to “catified” your place. Your kitten will soon grow into an adult that will require more space to hunt, explore and play. Hence, ensure that your place and garden is safe and escape-proof. Provide it with cat trees, platforms and toys. This will help your kitten to feel that it is part of the home and to have the confidence that it needs to grow well. You would also want to ensure that all electrical cords and devices are out of its reach.
Plan a visit to the vet when your kitten is 9 weeks old. Your kitten should now receive her first vaccination. You should also consider spaying your cat to help limit the population of cat as there has been as an increasing number of cats that are homeless and end up being euthanized.