The first six weeks of a kittens life are vital to their development, so I put together this kitten care guide week by week. In following this advice, your kittens are bound to get a great start, and both of you will develop a strong bond.
What Supplies Do I Need For My New Kitten?
First, there are some supplies you will need for your new furry friends. Things like:
- Cat Carrier – A store bought carrier is more comfortable and secure for your new kitten.
- Cat Bed – This way they will learn from the start where they will sleep.
- Food/Water Dishes – Stainless steel is the best choice.
- Syringe – Used for feeding baby kittens.
- Kitten Food/Formula – Consult with your vet for the best options.
- Litter/Litter box/Litter Scoop – Talk to your vet about a good type of litter, as their are many different kinds on the market.
- Cat Toys – Keep those little paws entertained. Playing is an important part of cat development.
- Cat Tree – Cat trees are important because they are a place for your kitten to scratch instead of your furniture, and they also provide a view of the great outdoors and an area to play on.
- Grooming Supplies – Grooming regularly will help keep the distribution of furr round your house to a minimum.
- Health Care Supplies – Ear cleaner, toothbrush/toothpaste, kitten flea treatment, etc.
One more thing you will need to consider is where you want to take your kitten for veterinary care. Do some research in your area and read some reviews of different clinics. Once you make a decision, call the clinic and set up a follow-up appointment before you get your new kitten.
Kitten Care Guide Week by Week:
How Fast Do Kittens Develop?
Kittens make amazing changes in a swift amount of time. In fact, a cat’s gestation period is pretty quick also. Humans take nine months to have a baby, cats only take nine weeks. In comparison, a week in a cat’s development equals a month in a humans development. Amazing, right? By the time a cat reaches 20-24 weeks old, they can be self-sufficient and even reproduce.
Week One : Running Blind and Deaf
Kittens are born both deaf and blind. If you are a new kitten owner, don’t panic, they will open their eyes soon. Also, their umbilical cords will fall off in two or three days. Kittens don’t have any teeth right now and usually weigh just a few ounces. Kittens weigh a little over three ounces at birth and can possibly double their weight in a week.
Newborn Kittens Cannot Regulate Their Temperature
Newborn kittens cannot regulate their temperature, so if they wander away from mama, return them immediately. If mama isn’t around, make a snuggly box. To make a snuggly box, put towels or old blankets in an open top box and put the kittens in it. Next, you will want to warm a water bottle in a pan of water, wrap it in a towel, and place it in the box with the kittens. Make sure the box is big enough so that if a kitten feels overheated, they can move away from the bottle. You will also want to make sure not to put the box in a drafty area and that it is in a quiet place in your house.
Feeding Your Kittens
When feeding small kittens, a ratio of an eight cc of formula for each ounce of body weight is used. You will want to use a replacement formula such as KMR by PetAg. This formula contains all the nutrients that they would get from their mom. Don’t ever give them cow’s or goat’s milk. As time goes on, the amount of formula is increased, and the number of feedings will decrease.
If mama cat is around, give her some room. If you interfere with her babies too much, she will move them, so it’s harder for you to find them.
Basically, in this first week, all kittens will do is eat, sleep, and grow.
Week 2: Growing Like Crazy
During week two, your kitten’s eyes will start opening. Even if they still don’t open all the way, it’s okay. You will see those beautiful blue eyes soon enough. Although their eyes are opening, they don’t see very well yet. Kittens are also susceptible to eye infections, so be cautious of any drainage from the eye.
Clear waste is okay, but white, yellowish, or green is not. If you see this, get them to a vet as soon as possible. Also, keep bright lights away from them as their pupils will not dilate and contract yet. Kittens eyes should be fully open between 9-14 days.
A kitten will also continue to gain weight during this week, about .35 ounces (10 grams) a day. Also, during this time, a kittens sense of smell is developing. All kittens have a favorite teat on their mom that they recognize by smell.
Observe for any territorial fighting that may be going on and to make sure everyone has a pleasant nursing experience. At the end of week two, your kitten will also be able to stand and crawl.
Week 3: Becoming Aware
By week three, your kitten’s ear canals will be open entirely even though their sense of hearing will still be developing. Their ears will no longer be folded, and loud noises will probably scare them so be cautious of what you are doing.
Your kitten will be able to eliminate (both poop and pee) by itself now; however, mama cat will still handle the grooming duties. Kittens can also purr at this age and will start getting their baby teeth.
Your kitten will try to stand and wobble around while it moves since it hasn’t got its footing yet. Although the kitten’s sense of smell is their most robust sense at this time, helping lead them back to their mom, you will still want to make sure you don’t have any wanderers. Regulation of temperature is still an issue with your little ones.
Week 4: Getting Their Footing
Between three and four weeks, a kitten will start to walk even though they are very shaky. This is because their bodies are out of proportion compared to when they are adults. This will all change once they get the “hang of things” and start exploring.
Kittens will start escaping their “snuggly box” to go explore the wild blue yonder. They will also begin interacting more with their littermates, even making “best friends.” You will still want to continue keeping an eye on them.
As far as the care end of the spectrum, kittens will still nurse regularly at this age, so continue to give mama cat high-quality food.
Week 5: All Eyes On The World
By week five, a kittens eyesight is fully developed, and their mobility is better developed so they will be eager to explore and play with their siblings. You will probably see kittens wrestling with each other often. They will also start stalking “prey” like bathrobe sashes, their own tails, and even human feet. Another thing they will do is begin grooming each other when they are not playing and “killing” each other.
This is also an excellent time to start socializing them beyond their siblings by spending time with you, other people, and other pets. Also, don’t be afraid to let them explore their surroundings under close supervision. Allowing them to explore new sights and sounds will help them grow into emotionally healthy and well-adjusted cats, which also prepares them for when they leave you and go to their forever home.
Getting Started on Solid Food
They will also be able to start eating small amounts of food. Mixing a little canned or dry food with some formula is an excellent way to get them started. Put it in a shallow dish and keep an eye on them in case they spill it. Don’t be surprised if they step in it or walk through it. Mama will help clean them up and will also still be nursing to provide some extra nutrients.
Kittens will also be able to balance enough to pee and poop on their own, so now is a great time to introduce them to a shallow sided litter box. They will learn what they need to from their mom but make sure you keep the box clean and also check their bedding frequently because of accidents.
Week 6-8: Growing Up And Getting Social
In weeks six to eight, your kitten will go through many changes. Their blue eyes will change color, all of their baby teeth will officially come in, and they will be full of energy. Even when they are sleeping, you may see them “playing” with their siblings, batting at each other.
Kittens should officially be weaned between six and eight weeks. Although they are still nursing, you will want to feed them small meals 4-6 times a day. Slowly transition from dry or wet food mixed with formula to more solid food. However, by eight weeks, they should be done nursing and eating solid food.
You will also want to take your kitten for their first “official” veterinarian visit for their first round of vaccinations. They will need four specific ones at first, including distemper, shots for respiratory diseases, feline viral rhinotracheitis, and feline calicivirus. From there, your vet will inform you about what shots they will need in the future. You will also talk to your vet about de-worming if it hasn’t been done already.
Week 9-12: On My Own
Kittens are now able to be adopted out to good homes. If they haven’t been socialized with supervision around other pets and children, take some time to do so before looking for homes for them.
They should be fast and confident on their feet and weigh around two pounds, which is old enough to be spayed or neutered. Keep in mind, a cat can start reproducing at sixteen weeks of age so spaying or neutering should be done as soon as possible.
You will also see their personalities really start to emerge, which will help immensely with home placement. You will want to enjoy them as much as you can before they go to good homes.
Kittens are amazing little creatures. It’s astounding how they can grow from just a few ounces to around two pounds in a few short weeks. Keeping them warm when they are tiny, feeding them formula, keeping an eye on them when they start walking and taking them to their first vet appointment are some crucial things during their first few weeks of life. By keeping the above information in mind, you will raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted cat. You will feel confident as they are chosen for their forever homes and if you decide to keep one or two, you will be able to see the fruits of your love and caregiving skills for years to come..