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How to Take Care of a Newborn Baby Kitten

When you are caring for a newborn kitten there are lots of things you will need to know, especially if they don't have a mother. Today, our Villa Rica vets share with you how you can take care of a baby kitten that doesn't have a mother, what to watch for and when you should bring them to the vet.

How to Care For a Kitten

Kittens make for adorable and lovable household pets, but it's important to meet their specific needs. Every stage of life has unique needs, and any missed or mishandled aspects can have a significant impact on overall health and lifespan. Let's discuss how to properly care for your new furry friend during their kitten years.

Caring for a Newborn Kitten

A kitten is considered a newborn when it is 0 - 4 weeks old. During this time, it is learning how to meow, walk, and regulate its body temperature. If they have a mother, she will be able to handle most of the work, including feeding. Simply ensure the mother's good health and provide a warm and safe environment. Ensure that their crate/area is equipped with a blanket to cover the floor and a cozy bed for them to rest on. If the kitten does not have a mother, the first step is to take them to see a vet. The kitten's health and requirements can be determined by your veterinarian. 

Keep Your Newborn Kitten Warm

To ensure the kitten stays warm without a mother, additional measures can be taken. One option is to place a heating disk in the crate or a heating pad on low heat underneath a blanket in their cage. Consider creating a cozy nest using blankets where the kitten can rest and feel at ease. Ensure the heating pad is at a safe temperature by using your hands to check. Also, create a cozy spot in your kitten's cage/crate without any heating item, so they can retreat there if they become too warm.

It is important to ensure that your kitten has a heating source until they reach approximately 6 weeks of age. This is because if kittens become too cold, they are at risk of developing hypothermia. 

Feeding Your Newborn Kitten

Another thing you will have to do take care of a 6-week-old kitten kitten without a mother is to feed them and provide them with proper nutrition. You will have to bottle feed your kitten a special kitten formula every 2 to 4 hours. Every kitten is different, your veterinarian will be able to inform you of the best formula to use, how much to feed them and how frequently you should be feeding your kitten. In order for kittens to grow healthily, they will need to gain approximately ½ ounce (14 grams) per day or 4 ounces (113 grams) a week. Never give your cat cow milk and always make sure you are feeding them the same formula. And, in order for your kitty to digest food properly they will have to be kept warm.

As Your Kitten Grows Older

Around 5 to 10 weeks old, the kitten you're caring for should transition from being bottle fed or fed by their mothers to consuming high protein meals about 3 to 4 times a day. To begin, pour the formula into a food bowl and consider adding a small amount of softened hard food or canned soft food to assist them in the process. At this stage, their motor skills will be improving, making them more adventurous. It's important to keep a close eye on them to ensure their safety. Supervision and hands-on bonding playtime are necessary for them, especially since they are between 2-4 months old.  

When your kitten reaches 4 to 6 months old, they will enter their adolescent days. During this time, they can be quite challenging and may benefit from behavioral modification. It is important to think about having them spayed or neutered before they reach 6 to 8 months old.

Preventive Care For Your Kitten

It is important to schedule your kitten's first veterinary appointment within the first week of bringing them home, regardless of their age. The health of your kitten will be evaluated by your veterinarian, who will also inform you about their dietary needs. You can also take this chance to ask any questions you might have about taking care of your new family member.

It is crucial to ensure that your kitten receives regular preventive care, such as wellness exams, routine vaccinations, and parasite prevention.

Regular wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to assess the overall health and well-being of your kitten including their dietary requirements. Your vet will also be able to detect any diseases early before they become severe when they are easier and more affordable to treat.

You also need to make sure your kitten gets all of its vaccinations and parasite prevention on schedule. Your kitten should come in for their first round of shots when they are 6 to 8 weeks old, and you should have them spayed or neutered when they are 5 to 6 months old. This prevents any serious diseases or conditions from arising in the first place.

What Can Go Wrong?

It's important to stay vigilant and watch for any signs of trouble or potential veterinary emergencies throughout every stage of your kitten's life. If any of the following signs are observed in your kitten, it is crucial to contact your vet right away and schedule an appointment.

Here is what you need to keep an eye out for in a newborn kitten:

  • Delays or difficulties in motor skills or coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Refusing food (especially if being bottle-fed)
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting

When your kitten is 4 weeks old or older you still need to keep an eye out for the signs above in addition to these behavioral signs:

  • Litter box usage/not using the litter box
  • Signs of play biting or aggression
  • Fears and other concerning behaviors that should be managed when they are still young

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have any more questions or concerns about caring for a baby kitten, or notice your kitty displaying any of the signs above contact our Villa Rica vets today, we will be happy to help.

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Villa Rica Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Villa Rica companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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