Caring for a Newborn Kitten

Found a newborn kitten? 

If you come accross a kitten (or more than one) it may be that its mother has left him there to find food, so please keep an eye on the kitten for a couple of hours before picking them up.  If the mother does not return, then chances are the kitten has abandoned or orphaned.  **Note - coming back a few hours later to check on the kitten does not prove the mother is not around, she may have returned in your absence.


Please do not offer regular cow’s milk to cats of any age! It is not easily digestible and can cause diarrhea or worse in younger kittens. Newborn Kittens should be bottle-fed with a commercial milk replacer, you can find the special baby formula at most pet stores and vet clinics. 


For more tips about caring for your newborn kitten go to Royal Canin website.  Please read on to learn about rearing new born kittens.


What Do Kittens Eat Besides Special Kitten Milk?


When the orphaned kittens are three to four weeks old, begin to offer milk replacer in a shallow bowl, then introduce a moist, easily chewable diet. You can make gruel from warmed milk replacer and a high-quality dry or wet kitten food. Serve it in a shallow bowl that won't tip over (as they will probably climb into it) and feed the kittens several times each day. By five weeks old they should be getting used to their new diet. By six to seven weeks old they should be able to chew dry food and you’ll no longer need to moisten it.


Kittens need large amounts of energy, about two to three times that of an adult cat. About 30 percent of their total energy should come from protein. Make sure the food you offer is specifically formulated for kittens.


How Often Should a Kitten Eat?


The following is a general eating schedule for newborns and young cats:

  • Newborn kittens may nurse about every 1-2 hours.
  • At about three to four weeks old, they can be offered milk replacer from a bowl and then small amounts of moistened kitten food four to six times a day.
  • Kittens from six to 12 weeks old should be fed four times a day as you gradually decrease their access to milk replacer.
  • Kittens from three to six months old should be fed three times a day.


How Do I Keep a Newborn Kitten Warm?


If the kitten in your care has been orphaned, it is essential that you keep the young one warm. A heating pad or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel works well. The heat source should be positioned so that the kitten can move away from it at will. Please consult your veterinarian about ideal temperatures, and do take care to monitor the heating pad, if you are using one, to ensure it is functioning properly.


For more tips about caring for your newborn kitten go to Royal Canin website


Can I Hold the Kitten?


Kittens who are with their mother should not be over-handled, especially not during their first week of life—this may upset the mother. If the kitten in your care is younger than one week old, please consult your veterinarian. In order to properly socialize a young feline to humans, start to handle him from the second week on through the seventh week—this is considered an important time for socialization.


Please note, kittens are prone to injury if handled roughly—anyone who handles the little ones in your care will need to be very gentle. Young children in particular should be supervised.


How Do I Teach a Kitten to Go the Bathroom?


After feeding, a mother cat will groom her babies, paying special attention to the anal area. This stimulates excretion, which kittens can’t do on their own until their second or third week. If your kitten is no longer with her mother, dip a soft washcloth or a piece of gauze in warm water and gently massage the anal and urinary regions. The warmth, texture and movement mimic a mother cat’s tongue.


When the kittens are four weeks old, you can teach them to use a litter box by placing them in the box after their meals. Cutting one side down will make it easier for the kittens to go in and out.


Our children want to cuddle the kitten, how should they handle the kitten?


Remember that your kitten has just been brought into totally unknown surroundings. Move gently and without shouting. Avoid handling the kitten excessively. An excessively noisy or agitated atmosphere could cause your kitten to be a nervous and fearful adult.


Children often tend to almost smother the new arrival with attention. They get excited, want to touch it and catch hold of its tail. An adult cat is perfectly capable of avoiding children when it doesn't want to be bothered, but a kitten is not. You need to explain to your children that the kitten is not a toy, that it needs lots of sleep and that it is absolutely forbidden to wake it up just to cuddle it. It is best not to allow young children to play with the cat in your absence. Your supervision will aid in avoiding scratches.


The right moves.

Remember to handle your kitten carefully. Any rough or sudden movement can terrify your kitten. If you want to carry it, the best way to hold it is to slide one hand, open wide, under its stomach with the other under its rearend for bigger breeds. In order to show your authority, take it by the scruff of its neck, just like its mother would do to carry it. This will not cause any harm to the kitten.


The wrong moves.

  • Pull its tail.
  • Take it by the head.
  • Slide both hands under its front feet.


Good habits to adopt.

  • Don’t leave plastic bags or things made out of foam lying around.
  • Close the trash can lid and the toilet seat cover (careful with trash-bag ties, which all cats love to swallow).
  • Cover electric hot plates with proper protection.
  • Limit access to balconies and decks if possible.
  • Be careful with irons. They are often responsible for burns.


Please consult your local vets clinic if you are unsure of how to care for your kitten, alternatively you can contact our helpline on 050.451.0058.  Please seek help if you are not sure of what to do.


For more tips about caring for your newborn kitten go to Royal Canin website