Kitten 101 – Raising and Fostering Kittens – The Basics
It’s raining kittens, everywhere! Here is an overview of Kitten 101 to provide the basics if you adopt or find kittens to help them thrive. There are so many resources online too with in depth details. Found kittens should be seen by a vet to ensure they are healthy. NEVER use FLEA treatment or medicated shampoo on kittens under 8 weeks. It will KILL THEM!
The peak season for kittens is April – September, but in some places it’s year round. Mom cats, called QUEENS, are pregnant for 58-67 days. There can be a different dad for each kitten, which explains how there can be so many different kitten colorings in a single litter.
There are many great online resources for kitten care, from neonatals through 1 year old. Some of our favorites are the Kitten Lady webinars on kitten care. Use the link below to visit her page and check out the webinars!
Do NOT assume kittens you find in your yard are ORPHANS! Mom could be close by. Watch and/or set up a camera to see if she appears within a couple of hours.
* The best scenario for kittens under 4 weeks is to be with their mom. This increases their chances of survival.
* An average litter is typically 4-8 kittens, but the largest litter was 19 kittens in 1970.
* Newborn kittens are born with their eyes closed and their ears folded. They cannot see or hear, until around 7-10 days.
* They are mobile and move around based on scent and seeking the warmth of their mom or other siblings.
* Orphan newborns need to be fed every 2 hours, including overnight by syringe (needleless of course) or bottle. If they do not have a mother, they can only be fed Kitten Milk Replacement formula, canned or powdered (mixed with water). Orphan kittens have to be stimulated to go to the bathroom with each feeding with a warm, soft washcloth.
* DO NOT detach/cut umbilical cords. They will fall off naturally by 5-7 days of age.
* DO NOT bathe any kitten under 8 weeks old in flea treatment or medicated shampoo. Use only DAWN dish soap or something recommended by your vet.
* DO NOT use topical FLEA MEDICINE on kittens under 8 weeks. This will KILL THEM!
* Kittens can start deworming at 2 weeks, but only if they can easily swallow. This is repeated every 2 weeks until they’re 5-6 months old.
* Kittens can learn to use the litterbox as young as 3 weeks old.
* ONLY use NON-CLUMPING litter for kittens under 8 weeks. Curious kittens will try to eat the litter. Clumping can kill them. Use paper pellets or natural alternatives.
* Kittens eyes are born blue – they’ll have their permanent eye color by 8 weeks old.
* Kittens start their first FVRCP vaccinate at 6-8 weeks, then have a booster shot every 3-4 weeks until they are 16-20 weeks old. This helps immunize them from fatal kitten illnesses.
* Diarrhea and eye infections need professional medical treatment ASAP!
* Female kittens can go into heat at 5 MONTHS OLD & CAN GET PREGNANT. It’s important to spay them before this.
UNSAFE THINGS FOR CATS/KITTENS TO PLAY WITH:
String, yarn, ribbon, dental floss.
Pins and needles.
Rubber bands and hair ties.
Plastic bags (especially drycleaners’ bags—she could suffocate)
Anything else that your cat might chew.
When in doubt, contact a vet for more information. But get your camera ready to capture some of the most amazing cuddly and playful kitten moments 24/7!