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Healthy Cats

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Newborn Kitten Care

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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.

How Much Should a Newborn Kitten Weigh?

An average birth weight for kittens is about 3 ½ ounces, depending on breed and litter size. During the first weeks of life, a kitten’s body weight may double or even triple. Gaining ¼ to half an ounce daily until they are weaned is considered healthy. Kittens who don’t gain adequate weight during this early period may not survive.

Can I Hold the Kitten?

Kittens who are with their mother should not be over-handled, especially not during their first week of life-this may upset the mother. If the kitten in your care is younger than one week old, please consult your veterinarian. In order to properly socialize a young feline to humans, start to handle him from the second week on through the seventh week-this is considered an important time for socialization.

Please note, kittens are prone to injury if handled roughly-anyone who handles the little ones in your care will need to be very gentle. Young children in particular should be supervised.

How Do I Teach a Kitten to Go to the Bathroom?

After feeding, a mother cat will groom her babies, paying special attention to the anal area. This stimulates excretion, which kittens can’t do on their own until their second or third week. If your kitten is no longer with her mother, dip a soft washcloth or a piece of gauze in warm water and gently massage the anal and urinary regions. The warmth, texture and movement mimic a mother cat’s tongue.

When the kittens are four weeks old, you can teach them to use a litter box by placing them in the box after their meals. Cutting one side down will make it easier for the kittens to go in and out.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA

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