How to care for newborn, unweaned kittens
Born unable to hear or see, newborn kittens are entirely dependent on their mother’s milk for nourishment. Around four weeks of age, they will gradually begin to eat solid food, and they are fully weaned around eight weeks of age. The mother is also busy round the clock protecting her kittens and keeping them warm and clean, teaching them basic socialisation skills and helping them to urinate and defecate in the first three weeks. Should you come across a kitten she seems to have left behind, or if your cat is unable to care for her litter, you may need to look after the kittens yourself. In this case you will have to take over very quickly, especially if your kitten’s eyes are still closed, which means that the kittens are less than two weeks old. Taking over the mother cat’s role is a full-time job and requires a great deal of care and patience, especially in the first four weeks, but it can be very rewarding. Follow Perfect Fit’s practical guidelines on how to care for unweaned kittens to help your little felines grow into happy, healthy cats.
What to do first: making your kittens warm and comfortable,
If the mother is not there to do it, it is important that you keep newborn kittens warm, as they are not yet able to regulate their own body temperatures and can easily go into hypothermia. To ensure your kittens are warm enough, keep them in a quiet room, out of the way of any drafts. Keep the room temperature at around 25°C. You can make them a cosy bed from a cardboard box lined with blankets or purchase a ready-made kitten bed. You can use an infrared light or hot water bottle securely wrapped in fabric to heat their bed. But make sure it is not in direct contact with kittens.
Reminder: if your kittens’ eyes are still closed or partially opened, this stage is even more vital. Once warmed up, take them immediately to the vet.