Welcoming a new baby kitten to your family can be a dreamlike and joyful experience. However, raising these cute little fluffballs requires much more hard work and serious attention around the clock than just cuddling and going “aw” over how cute they are.
Newborn kittens are defenseless creatures whose eyes are fully shut in their first few days and whose bones are so fragile that they can’t even crawl. They depend entirely on their mothers, especially for body temperature and food.
If the mom is around, all you need to do is to take good care of her and let her do her job. But if she is out of the picture for some reasons, the responsibility is all yours.
It is fine to be confused because this article is here to give you some basic know-how on what to feed newborn kittens and how to take care of them.
What to feed newborn kittens
Nursing mother’s milk
We can’t deny that mother’s milk is the best nutrition for any baby, so before trying to bottle-feed the kitten on your own, consult local veterinarians or even your friends to see whether there is any foster mother that is able to take care of the baby. It takes some time for the foster mother to accept the new baby and there are cases that the foster mother refuses to. So, if there is no alternative mother, a homemade kitten milk replacer is the ultimate solution.
Kitten milk replacement formula
Newborn kittens can only digest milk, cat milk only. That is why cow’s milk, human milk or puppy milk are off the list, as they will cause life-threatening effects such as diarrhea, dehydration, etc. Always use kitten milk replacement formula available at any pet stores or consult the veterinarian to purchase the best kind of commercial formula for your baby booger.
Handy tips to for bottle-feeding newborn kittens
- A kitten needs approximately 8 milliliters of formula per ounce of body weight daily.
- Ensure the milk is warm, it is best to put a few drops on your wrist to check.
- Before bottle-feeding the kitten, make sure all her four feets are on the ground and her tummy is facing downward. Do not hold the kitten on her back like holding a baby because this can lead to the inhalation of liquid into the lungs.
- Stop feeding when you see small bubbles appear around her mouth or when she spits the nipple out, which means that she is full. Then pat her back gently until she burps.
- Feed kittens under 4 weeks of age every 2-4 hours. When the kitten reaches 4 week-old, wean her by putting the formula on a shallow dish and add some moistened food.
How to take care of newborn kittens
Keep the body warm
This is the most important thing, even more than feeding because the kitten will not digest when she is cold. The newborn kitten cannot maintain her own body heat, so you need to provide heating pads, cover her with towels and place her bed in a dry, warm and draft-free place. Don’t forget to leave her some space so she can get away from the heat when she is too warm.
Help the kitten to urinate and defecate
This is probably why newborn kittens are called defenseless creatures, they can’t even eliminate on their own for the first few weeks. Usually, the mom will help them by licking their genital regions but you can do the same by gently massaging under the tail using a warm washcloth until they pee or poo. It can be really quick or can take some time, just be patient. However, if the kitten still doesn’t eliminate after your being patience, you need to contact the veterinarian. After 4-5 weeks, start litter box training by putting the kitten in the box whenever she finishes eating.
Taking care of baby cats can be joyful and stressful at the same time. Just follow our tips on how to take care of newborn kittens and what to feed them so that your experience can be as smooth as possible. Don’t hesitate to tell us about your tips too.