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Published: Feb 27, 2024 4 min read

Taking care of a newborn kitten can be a daunting task for a brand new pet parent, especially if the mother cat is not around to take care of it. But all hope is not lost. There are some basic steps that you can take to help your new kitten live a healthy and long life. Let’s take a look at the most important things a cat owner can do to help their first kitten.

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Steps to taking care of a kitten

1. Keep it warm

A big benefit of having its mother around is that adult cats keep kittens warm. A young kitten needs to maintain a certain body temperature in its four to six weeks of age. If you are taking care of more than one kitten at a time, make sure to keep them together in their cat bed. This can help them learn to socialize as well as maintain their ideal temperature.

2. Pay attention to their weight gain

Constant weight gain is the best indicator of a growing healthy kitten. Numbers might fluctuate depending on the kitten’s current size and how far away from the weaning stage they are. If you’re using kitten formula as a milk replacement, keep in mind that bottle feeding is much faster than traditional nursing. Make sure to go at the kitten’s pace, keeping a flexible feeding schedule that caters to the kitten’s growing stomach.

3. Know when to wean

Weaning usually starts when a three or four week-old kitten has begun to aggressively bite the bottle while feeding. Start by slowly mixing in kitten food with its high-quality formula until you can fully transition to cat food. Wet food mixed in with dry food might be easier for the kitten before it gets fully accustomed to solid food. Be patient throughout the process, and remember that this phase can last until a kitten is two months of age.

4. Bathing

Given the absence of its mother, you need to simulate grooming by cleaning the kitten with a damp, warm washcloth. Between groomings, you can also bathe them to get rid of excess filth they might get after interacting with the litter tray or during playtime by washing them in the sink with warm, clean water. This can also help ward off fleas and encourage good behavior with their grooming. Make sure to keep them as warm as possible after bathing and don’t leave them until they are fully dry.

5. Other processes to keep in mind

Kittens need to be groomed to stimulate urination and defecation until they are ready for the litter box. Massage a kitten’s abdomen and genitals with a wipe after feeding to help it process its food. You should also keep track of the schedule regarding a kitten’s vaccinations, deworming and heartworm checkups to make sure its health care is up to date. When the kitten is old enough, pet owners can consider neutering or spaying it as well as microchipping it.

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How to take care of a kitten FAQs

How long can I leave my two month old kitten alone?

You should not leave a kitten —younger than four months old— alone for more than four hours. After this, they can spend up to 8 hours alone. If you can’t stay with them, consider getting a companion or family member so the kitten can socialize while you’re away.

What are the essential supplies needed for a new kitten?

Aside from a bed and a cat carrier, you should also have a water bowl, cat toy and scratching post available for your cat.

What vaccinations should my cat get?

Eventually, your cat should be vaccinated against feline leukemia virus, rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus. Ask your vet for the right time to vaccinate your cat for each of these diseases.