Caring for Kittens from Birth to Eight Weeks

February 21, 2022 7:05 pm Published by

Congratulations on your new kitten—or kittens! Whether you’ve adopted a kitten or your cat gave birth to a litter, you’re ready to learn about how to care for kittens.

Here’s what to expect when kittens come into your life.

The first week

You probably know that kittens are born with their eyes shut, but did you know that their ears are shut as well? This means that they rely heavily on their other senses—touch and smell. The kittens’ mother will care for them by cleaning them frequently. The kittens receive warmth from their mother, and cleaning provides stimulation of vital functions such as the bowels and bladder.

Kittens require an environment that is consistent so that they don’t develop hypothermia or hyperthermia. Kittens under the age of four weeks don’t have the ability to thermoregulate, so they need to be in a very warm environment.

Your kitten will also eat constantly at this stage to spur growth, development and their immune system. Kittens should gain about 4 ounces per week. Young kittens are likely to stay latched to their mother’s nipple all the time and nurse periodically.

Weeks two to four

This is when the kitten’s eyes begin to open; however, their eyesight will be blurry. Do not try to force open their eyes, as this can result in permanent damage and increase the likelihood of infection. Kittens are born with blue eyes, though as they age, their eyes may change color.

In the third and fourth weeks, the kitten’s sense of smell improves as well as their hearing. They will begin to develop teeth and their awareness of the world will increase. At the end of week four, a kitten should be about four times their birth weight.

Weeks five and six

At this point, the kitten’s eyesight will be fully developed. They will also begin to use the litter box on their own. The kitten may still be nursing, but helping them wean is a key part of caring for kittens. A kitten is ready for weaning when it bites the mother’s (or the bottle’s) nipple often and with force.

Continue to bottle-feed through the weaning process to ensure that the kitten gets adequate nutrition. You can begin to introduce a small amount of food or formula on your finger to see if the cat will accept it. This is also the age that the kitties will explore more and begin playing with toys.

Weeks seven and eight

This is when it’s a good idea to take the kittens to the vet for vaccinations and a checkup. Kittens at this age are active and playful, and they will begin scratching almost anything. You can start grooming and bathing them at this age as well.

We hope this guide on how to care for kittens is helpful. When you want the absolute best care for your feline, come to Kingstowne Cat Clinic. We’re a full-service clinic offering everything from wellness exams to surgery, dental care and more. Contact us right now to find out more about our services.

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