Newborn Kitten Care
the first few weeks of life, a kitten’s primary concerns are feeding, keeping
warm, developing social skills and learning how to excrete on his own. In most
cases, humans will simply watch the mother cat perform her duties. However, if
the kitten in your care has been separated from his mother or if the mother cat
has rejected her young or cannot produce enough milk, caring for him is up to
How Do I Feed a Newborn Kitten?
A mother cat’s milk provides everything a kitten needs during
the first four weeks of life. If you have newborn kittens who’ve been separated
from their mother, consult with a veterinarian, shelter or experienced foster
care giver who can help you find a new mother cat with a small litter-she may
be able to nurse the orphaned babies. If you cannot find a foster mother,
please consult with your veterinarian about the proper way to bottle-feed with
a commercial milk replacer. Please do not offer regular cow’s milk to cats of
any age. It is not easily digestible and can cause diarrhea.
What Do Kittens Eat Besides Milk?
When the orphaned kittens are three to four weeks old, begin to
offer milk replacer in a shallow bowl, then introduce a moist, easily chewable
diet. You can make gruel from warmed milk replacer and a high-quality dry or
canned kitten food. Serve it in a shallow bowl and feed the kittens several
times each day. By five weeks old, they should be getting used to their new
diet. By six to seven weeks old, they should be able to chew dry food and
you’ll no longer need to moisten it.
Kittens need large amounts of energy-about two to three times
that of an adult cat. About 30 percent of their total energy should come from
protein. Make sure the food you offer is specifically formulated for
How Often Should a Kitten Eat?
The following is a general eating schedule for newborns and
- Newborn kittens may nurse about every 1-2 hours.
- At about three to four weeks old, they can be offered milk replacer from a
bowl and then small amounts of moistened kitten food four to six times a
- Kittens from six to 12 weeks old should be fed four times a day as you
gradually decrease their access to milk replacer.
- Kittens from three to six months old should be fed three times a day.
How Do I Keep a Newborn Kitten Warm?
If the kitten in your care has been orphaned, it is essential
that you keep the young one warm. A heating pad or a hot water bottle wrapped
in a towel works well. The heat source should be positioned so that the kitten
can move away from it at will. Please consult your veterinarian about ideal
temperatures, and do take care to monitor the heating pad, if you are using
one, to ensure it is functioning properly.