Looking After Kittens

 

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[ Alphabetical Table of Feline Gestation Times ] [ Anatomy of a Pregnant Cat ] [ Neutering ] [ Sexing a Kitten ] [ Site Map ]

[ Feline Names ] [ False Pregnancy ] [ Orphan Kittens ] [ Feline Mating & Conception ] [ Introducing Kittens to Other Pets ]

Looking After Kittens

Newborn Kittens

Assuming the mother cat is happy and settled with her new family and that each kitten is feeding from her, you can leave them to sleep. The kittens are born with their eyes closed and should be left were they were born as the mother will normally provide for all there needs until they reach three or four weeks of age. 

Keep a regular check on the kittens progress, making sure that they are all getting their share of mother's milk. It is good to let the youngsters become accustomed to your smell and contact as it will help them to become socialized. A word of warning here! Try to limit the amount of visitors, this is sometimes hard to do especially if you have children, as they will be eager to look and touch the tiny kittens. When the kittens are around ten days old they will start to open their tiny eyes, and at about fourteen, will be moving around their box. At three weeks of age they will be wanting to explore their surroundings, and it may start to prove difficult to keep them safe from all the household dangers. 

At about four weeks the kittens will be ready to start taking solid food, which also means they will need a litter tray. We do not have to worry about litter training as the mother cat will normally teach them all they need to know about toileting, and they usually learn very quickly. It should go without saying that it is very important to change the litter regularly.

It is very true to say, that from now until the kittens leave home they will keep you fairly busy! Weaning is the next step forward, and not all kittens will take to eating solid food as soon as we would like. If you have any that will not eat, you could try them on a very small amount of a strong smelling food, like tinned pilchard with the tomato sauce or oil washed off. These are too rich for young cats as a normal diet, but when the reluctant kitten responds to the food, you can then change back again to its normal food.

KITTEN'S PROGRESS CHART

Birth weight should be approximately  2 to 4 ounces.
By the end of the first week kitten should double in body weight.
The eyes should open at about 8 days.
The eyes will stay blue for about 2 weeks. The true eye colour will not appear until about 3 months.
The ears will start to stand up at 2 weeks.
The kitten will try to walk at about 3 weeks.
At 4 weeks teeth will start to develop, and kittens will start to play with each other.
A kitten at 6 months, is starting to show social traits of a fully grown cat, by the age of 12 months it will have attained the equivalent physical growth of a 15 year old human teenager. By the end of its first year, the kitten has become a cat, although some larger breeds such as the Main Coon may take a few more months to attain full adult size. The Manx takes five years to become fully grown.

Feeding Kittens

After weaning, your kittens can be fed any of the specially formulated kitten foods. They are available in many different flavours and textures. At three months of age, your kitten is still a baby and requires three or four small meals a day. To avoid finicky eating habits later, you should feed various flavours of foods during this time. If you switch between food types, you must always do so gradually, by mixing the original food with increasing quantities of the new food.

As it grows older, meals should become larger and be less frequent. At twelve months your kitten is considered an adult and should be fed only twice a day. It is good to feed your cat a variety of foods, using a mixture of canned, dried and fresh foods if possible not forgetting to always read the label on the food container, as some foods are only supplements and not complete diets. 

You should feed your kitten with kitten/growth cat food until it is one year old. At that stage, gradually change the diet into regular cat food. The accelerated growth of kittenhood is usually complete and the cat should adjust to adult cat food and regular eating habits.

Worming & Inoculation

As roundworms are very prevalent in kittens it is important to worm them very frequently when they are young. The recommendations are to treat every two weeks from about six weeks of age to16 weeks of age, with a drug active against roundworms.

Inoculation normally starts at 8 weeks for the most common diseases like distemper (Panleukopenia) and 16 weeks for others, such as F.I.P. (Feline Leukemia Virus) But you should take your kitten to your veterinarian and ask his advice about this.

Finding Suitable Homes For The Kittens

The kittens will soon start learning to play, and should be provided with plenty of toys and activities to stimulate them as much as possible. It is good to let them become accustomed to hearing the normal household activities, like vacuum cleaners and washing machines etc. Please be sure to keep an eye on them, as kittens really know how to get into mischief. One area that always worries me is kittens getting into the linen, thus ending up in washing machines and driers!

Your kittens are now twelve weeks old and should be wormed, inoculated with a certificate, registered if they are pedigrees and  ready to leave home. They should be healthy, active and used to the average home and its noises. This can be a very sad time, and you will almost certainly have become attached to them all. Here are a few tips to help you find good homes for your little felines:-

  • Try to plan in advance instead of waiting until the kittens are twelve weeks old, and ready to leave.

  • Advertise in your local paper, shop or at the veterinarian's.

  • Ask your friends; it's always better if a friend takes one of your kittens, then you can be sure it will have a good home.

  • Ask if they have a dog. Not all dogs are suitable companions for cats.

  • Be suspicious of people who ask if they are likely to be good ratters. It could mean that they are not looking for a pet, but rather a cat that would be left to fend for itself all day. 

  • Don't sell the whole litter to just one person. This could mean them ending up in a research laboratory.

  • Always be firm and say "No!" if you are not feeling happy about the sale.

  • Keep a record of who you sold to, and their address.

  • Tell the new owner to contact you if for any reason the kittens are not settling in, or if they have any problems.

  • Follow up the progress of the kittens for the first few weeks. If there is something serious like ill treatment going on, you must be prepared to do something about it.

[ Alphabetical Table of Feline Gestation Times ] Anatomy of a Pregnant Cat ] Looking After Kittens  ] Neutering ] 

[ Sexing a Kitten ] Feline Statistics ] [ Feline Names ] [ Site Map ] [ False Pregnancy ] [ Orphan Kittens ]