How To Take Care of a Kitten

How To Take care of a kitten

How To Take care of a kitten

Kittens are such cute, furry little mini-me’s of cats.  They are so tiny, little, and full of life.  Many people instantly fall in love with their new kitten.  However, raising a kitten is a little different from raising an adult cat.  Since kittens are not fully developed, they often require some special attention and different needs.  Kittens are more prone to developing skin problems or other diseases as well as fleas.  They are also more likely to get into trouble, so it is crucial to know how to care best for it.  This information is especially important to know if you’ve found wild kittens and you want to rescue them, although you can apply it to just about any kitten.

Newborn Kittens. 

Newborn kittens should stay with their mother until they are at least 6 weeks old.  The milk from their mother provides them with important antibodies and nutrients for healthy growth.  Also, kittens this young cannot keep themselves warm, so they must rely on the body heat of their mother and siblings to stay warm.  If you have found abandoned kittens at this age, there are some special steps that you must take to ensure that they stay healthy.  If a kitten is under 4 weeks old, it is crucial to bottle-feed it once every two hours.  You should also pay attention to its urinary patterns.  Kittens this young should be kept in a box or crate with plenty of blankets or warm bedding.  A good idea is to consult with a vet when you are dealing with kittens this young.  Many kittens that are found in the wild are more prone to developing eye infections and other diseases.

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At about a week to 10 days old,

kittens should be able to open their eyes.  Most kittens’ eyes are blue at birth but will change after 3 months.  Once they are 3 weeks old they will start to stand and crawl around.  After those milestones, their development will begin to accelerate and they will start growing into their motor skills, hunting skills, and other adult features.

Weaning Your Kitten. 

Many kittens are ready to start eating formula and kitten food after about 5 weeks.  If you’re bottle-feeding, you can tell when a kitten is ready if it starts to forcefully bite the nipple of the bottle and/or when it is able to lick from your fingers.  When this occurs, you can start the transition by allowing the kitten to lap formula from a spoon.  When the kitten has proven to be able to do this, you can start to put its food in a dish.  Don’t be afraid to continue bottle-feeding during the weaning process if your kitten is not eating enough on its own.  You don’t want to starve it.  Gradually work with your kitten until it is able to eat without the bottle.  Start with moist food, as many kittens cannot chew hard food until they are at least 8 weeks. 

Kittens Between 8 and 11 Weeks. 

Kittens between 8 and 11 weeks old begin to develop their motor skills, meaning they will start to run around and play more.  Since your kitten will be more likely to want to explore, it is important to keep a good eye on it.  Don’t allow your kitten of this age to wander around your house yet, especially if you live in a big home.  A good idea is to confine it to a smaller room (maybe a guest bedroom or spare bathroom) and let it explore there until it gets a little bigger and used to its environment.  Also, kittens of this age can begin to eat kitten food as they will not need their mother’s milk anymore.

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Kittens Between 2 and 4 Months.

During this age range, your kitten will be very energetic.  You should feed your kitten at least 3 times a day, ensuring that each serving contains at least 30% protein as recommended by the ASPCA.  Since your kitten will start to really grow during this stage, you can begin to allow it to explore the rest of your house.

I have had cats throughout my whole life and have found it much easier to just put down a bowl of dry food and a water bowl and keep them filled all the time.  Cats are very smart and will stop eating when full, unlike some dogs.  I will also feed my cats one serving of wet cat food per day.  I used to have a cat that insisted on only eating wet cat food, and later in her life she had terrible tooth decay problems, so it is generally best to have the majority of the food dry cat food.

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Kittens Between 4 and 6 Months. 

Since your kitten is close to becoming an adult cat at this point, it is a good idea to consider getting them spayed or neutered.  This is because he or she will begin to develop the stages of sexual maturity.  Getting this done can help you avoid spraying issues or ending up with more kittens than you’ve bargained for. If you are looking for a quiet cat, then be sure to get this done!  Cats that have not been spayed or neutered can be quite a handful!

Litter Box Training. 

It is important to begin training your cat to use a litter box as early as possible to avoid accidents around the house.  Kittens learn how to use the bathroom when their mother licks their rear end, which stimulates their bladder and rectal functions.  If you’ve rescued kittens, you can do this yourself by gently rubbing those areas and its lower stomach with a moist towel or cotton tissue.  If done right, it should make your kitten want to urinate.  It should also relieve its bowels once a day. 

A good age to begin training your kitten to use a litter box is 4 weeks, as it will be old enough to learn.  The trick is to put your cat in its litter box after every time it eats.  Usually they will catch on themselves and you don’t have to do much.  If your kitten doesn’t respond to the litter box, you can gently take its paw and stimulate a scratching in the litter.  When I have new kittens, the first thing I do is put them in the litter box like five times in a row and then a bunch of times after that.  They usually catch on pretty quick.

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Keeping Your Kitten Clean and Healthy

Preventative care is very important when you have a kitten.  This includes bringing it to the vet, keeping it clean and flea-free, and getting it vaccinated.  It is important to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible so that he or she can check the kitten to make sure it doesn’t have any skin irritations or other problems, like ear mites.  Your vet can also administer important vaccinations to prevent rabies, distemper, and leukemia.  Taking your kitten to the vet is also a great way to let it learn how to socialize.

In terms of cleaning, mother cats often teach their babies how to groom themselves by licking their fur.  If you’ve rescued kittens, you can stimulate this by using a damp towel to wash them, using short strokes as if it were their mother’s tongue.  If you’ve rescued a kitten, it is important to check their ears for dirt and other infections, such as mites.  You can do this by simply using a cotton swab.  One major sign of ear mites is dirt that looks like coffee grounds. 

How To Eliminate Fleas From Kittens

It is important to monitor your kitten for fleas, otherwise they may develop anemia, which can be life-threatening.  If your kitten has fleas, the first thing you can do is brush its fur using a special flea comb.  You should also spray it with a kitten-safe flea spray.  Once you’ve sprayed it, let it sit on an old towel in the bathtub for about 15 minutes or so to catch any dead fleas.  Throw the towel away afterward.

Once the dead fleas are off the kitten, you should give it a bath using special soap, something gentle.  Dish soap that is not antibacterial often works well.  Be sure to use warm, room-temperature water.  Comb out its fur again and then gently dry it. 

How To Take Care of a Kitten

Bonding With Your Kitten

Once you have taken care of the important health logistics for your kitten, next comes the fun part: giving it as much love and attention as you can.  Be sure to pet your kitten often and allow it to snuggle with you, something that your kitten will carry over into adulthood.  Groom it regularly to prevent any hair or skin problems.  It will also feel great to your kitten. 

Buy some kitten-safe toys and set up a playtime to help your kitten bond with you and hone its natural hunting instincts.  Playtime is also important to strengthening your cat’s motor skills, as you will learn in a couple of chapters.  Once your kitten has hit 6 weeks and has received the proper vaccinations, you can allow it to interact with other cats and even dogs if they’re cat-friendly. 

Reward your kitten with kitten treats to reinforce good behavior and help build confidence.  Finally and most importantly, always be patient with your kitten and encourage good behavior (for example, no biting or scratching).  A water bottle is the ideal deterrent for unwanted behavior.  If you follow these steps, you are likely to create an unbreakable friendship for the rest of your cat’s life.

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