Healthy Habits

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How to take care of early kitten

Newborn Kitten Care | How to take care of kittens

Looking after the welfare and safety of a new litter of kittens is a big responsibility, but you will not have to take on the task single-handed. Mother cats know instinctively how to raise a family.

Stages in growth of baby kitten:

Stages of development:

Newborn kittens are blind, deaf, and completely dependent on their mother, but they develop rapidly. Within a few weeks helpless infants turn into lively individuals that have learned all the basic lessons about being a cat. Adulthood is generally reached at around 12 months, although some cats take longer to complete their full growth.

Two weeks:

The eyes are now open although vision is imperfect. For a few weeks, all kittens have blue eyes that gradually change to the permanent color.

Four weeks:

Up and running, tail held erect as a balancing pole, the kitten starts exploring. Sight and hearing are well developed and the digestive system can cope with solid food.

Five days:

The kitten has some sense of the surrounding world, even though the eyes are not yet open. The ears lie flat against the head and hearing is still undeveloped.

Eight weeks:

Very active and fascinated by anything and everything, the kitten is instinctively adopting characteristic feline habits such as self-grooming and will practice hunting by pouncing on toys or siblings. Weaning should be fully completed around this stage.

Ten weeks:

Not quite a cat but almost the kitten will soon be ready to leave home. It is important for vaccinations to be given at this age.

How to take care of kitten:

The first weeks:

Until they have been weaned, kittens need to stay with their mother and siblings all the time. The mother cat is not only a protector and source of nutrition, but a teacher of feline behavior as well. It is through interaction with brothers and sisters that kittens practice their social and life skills. No kitten should be removed from this family support group unless absolutely necessary.
 Kittens start playing games together as early as 4 weeks of age and will benefit from a few toys to stimulate their interest. Objects that roll around are always popular, but don’t offer anything that could snag and damage tiny claws. Games often turn into rough and tumble, but even if the entire litter becomes a tussling furball there is no need to separate them. They are highly unlikely to do each other harm and this mock fighting is an important part of their mental and physical development.
 Keep a constant eye on the whereabouts of young kittens, especially once they are mobile and can climb out of the kittening box. They will wander everywhere and can all too easily end up being stepped on or getting injured while moving around the house. Do not allow the kittens to go outdoors until they have been fully vaccinated.

Using a litter pan:

You will probably find that you have very little work to do in training kittens to use a litter pan. As soon as they find their feet, at around 3 weeks of age, they will start copying their mother and head for the pan when she does. Although older cats prefer privacy when they use a litter pan, young kittens often all pile into it together. Provide them with a pan that is large enough for sharing, with shallow sides that they can climb over easily. Kittens have a built-in instinct to scratch around in loose, soft materials and scattered litter is inevitable, so surround the tray with newspaper to catch spillages.
 There are bound to be a few accidents, but you can keep these to a minimum by watching kittens for warning signs. If you see a kitten going into a squat, scoop him up gently and put him in the pan. Never make an abrupt grab, or clap your hands in an attempt to stop him urinating or defecating on the carpet you will just frighten him. If there is no time to reach the litter pan, lift him onto a sheet of newspaper. When he has finished, put the kitten and paper in the tray for a few moments to reinforce the idea.


By about 4 weeks of age, kittens have acquired some of their baby teeth and are ready for weaning making the change from mother’s milk to solid food. As with litterpan training, a mother cat can usually be relied upon to demonstrate the skill. The kittens will imitate the way she feeds from her bowl and, apart from providing the meals, you should not interfere. Only very occasionally for example, when a kitten has been orphaned is hand-weaning necessary. If you face this problem, you should ask your vet for advice.
 At the start of weaning, young kittens are more inclined to paw the food than to eat it, so place their bowls on newspaper and be prepared for messy mealtimes. As their intake of solids increases, kittens become less and less dependent on their mother for nutrition and the mother’s milk will gradually dry up. Most kittens are fully weaned at 8 weeks old.