June 30th
Caring for Kittens

Taking care of kittens and not quite sure what to do? Check out this basic daily care guide.

Basic Daily Care – Environment

Since kittens can only warm themselves to 5°C above room temperature, extra warmth needs to be provided for them. Keep the room warm and also provide an accessible source of warmth for them like a heating pad on low. Ensure that the kittens can move towards and away from the heat source in case they get too hot or too cold.

Use the graphic below as a reference for the appropriate temperature to keep kittens at.

Temperature Chart

Kittens need to be dry so they can stay warm. Do not bathe them unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to clean them, try to spot clean them so they don’t get soaking wet. Simply run warm water onto a cloth and be sure to dry the kittens well afterwards.

Kitten in towel

The area where the kittens are kept needs to be kept clean and dry as well. This helps to keep the kittens warm and prevents illness. Keep the kittens in an easy to clean area. Always disinfect the area after an illness or between litters using a diluted bleach mixture that is one part bleach to 32 parts water. Let sit for 10 minutes and then rise thoroughly.

Basic Daily Care – Feeding

When bottle feeding orphaned kittens, mix one part formula with two parts water. For the first few days, you may wish to start with one part formula with three or four parts water. Keep the formula in the fridge and be sure to discard it after 24 hours. When bottle feeding kittens, keep their heads level and do not place them on their backs like a human baby. Do not squeeze the bottle and be careful not to overfeed them. Overfeeding is the number one cause of diarrhea.

kitten feeding

Use the graphic below as a reference for the appropriate amount to feed kittens.

Feeding Chart

If the kittens are nursing from their mother, check her mammary glands daily for milk production, heat, redness and swelling.

Mama cat and kittens

It’s also important to weigh kittens daily to ensure that they are nursing enough.

At 3-4 weeks of age, you can start weaning the kittens. Offer a mixture of formula and canned food/mousse in a bowl. You can add dry food once they are comfortable eating the canned food.

Basic Daily Care – Elimination

Kittens less than 3-4 weeks old may need some manual stimulation. You can use a moistened soft tissue or cotton ball.

When litterbox training, stimulate elimination in the litterbox and leave soiled material in the litterbox.

Kitten in litterbox

Basic Daily Care – Things to look out for

If a kitten is lethargic or not eating, they could be hypothermic. This occurs when their body temperature is too low and requires gradual rewarming. They could also be hypoglycemic. This occurs when their blood sugar is too low. To raise their blood sugar, offer them some food and rub corn syrup on their gums. Finally, they could also be dehydrated. If this is the case, you should seek veterinary care.