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Tips For Caring For Newborn Kittens

by Angela Tempest

posted in Pets

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During the first weeks of a kitten's life, the main concerns for them surround keeping warm, feeding then learning to socialise with other cats and to deposit their waste properly. Most of these things come from their mother but if a kitten has been abandoned or the mother has died, then the owner must take on this role and it is not an easy task.
Feeding
The mother cat's milk will provide all the goodness that a newborn kitten needs so if you can't get the milk for the kitten, you need to get in touch with a vet or animal shelter. They may have another female cat who will foster the kitten and nurse it. If not then you will need to learn quickly to feed the kitten with a commercial milk replacement. Never use normal cow's milk for a kitten as it isn't easily digestible for them and will give them diarrhoea.
When the kitten reaches three or four weeks of age, then you can begin to offer them the milk replacer in a shallow bowl followed by a gradual shift to a most, easily chewable diet. Gruel with warmed milk replacer is a good first food or special canned kitten food will also work well. This is given to them in a shallow bowl several times a day. By the age of around five weeks, they should be adapted to this diet and by 6-7 weeks old, they should be able to eat the dry food without it being moistened. Weaned normally takes place around the eight week mark.
Feeding frequency
As well as what to feed kittens, how much and how often are equally important. A general idea is that a newborn kitten should eat around ever 1-2 hours depending on how much they take at each feed. At 3-4 weeks, they should be offered the milk and soft food four to six times a day. When kittens are 6-12 weeks old, they should be fed four times a day with a reduction in the milk. Once they reach three months, they should be fed three times a day.
Other care
Keeping the kitten warm is the other main concern - this is normally done by cuddling up with their mother. A heating pad or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel will do the job and should be positioned so that the kitten can move away from the heat if it is too warm. Your vet will tell you the ideal temperature based on the size of your kitten.
Weighing the kitten regularly is a good way to monitor their progress. A newborn kitten normally weighs around 3 ' ounces, depending on the breed and how many in the litter. The weigh should double or treble in the first weeks of life then gain around ¼ to ' an ounce each day until weaned.
When a kitten is with their mother, overhandling can stress her and may lead to rejection. On the other hand, if you are raising the kitten, he should be handled regularly and your vet will help you learn the kitten to socialise as their mother would have done.
About the Author: For more information on cat pregnancy and kitten development, see my articles at http://www.thebestcatlitterbox.com/
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