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Feline Ages & Life Stages
Kittens Birth to 4 Weeks: Less Then 1 Month Old
(Birth To 1 Year Old In Human Years)
!! Happy Birthday !!
Whether you were anticipating the birth of kittens from your adult cat, or you found a young one abandoned by their feral mother, these little bundles of puffy fur are going to need you to provide for their basic needs throughout their life. There are some things you’ll need to know to make sure your precious new companion gets a great start on the lifetime of wellness they have ahead of them. Kittens grow up nearly “overnight” as they develop rapidly. Here are the milestones your kitten will reach within their first month of life.
One Week Old: Kittens are born with their eyes sealed shut and their ears closed, rendering them blind and deaf. The umbilical cord stump will fall off within two to three days of birth. The kittens will need to eat every one and a half to two hours, need to be kept warm, and need to be stimulated to use the bathroom after every meal by mother’s tongue, or a cotton ball moistened with warm water rubbed on their rear ends until they defecate and urinate. If you are bottle feeding kittens, they need a special formula called Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) that provides all the essential nutrients specific for kittens that would be in their mother's milk if they were nursing.
Two Weeks Old: Kitten eyes open between 9 and 14 days old, the color will be blue at first, and gradually change to the adult color. They are still nursing, but doing so less often. They still require stimulation to poop and pee. Staying warm is a priority.
Three Weeks Old: Kitten ears will open and they will startle at loud noises. Now is the introduction to a shallow litter pan, but they will need help with cleaning themselves as they have not yet developed grooming skills, and need to be taught how to use the litter pan instead of eating and playing with it. They get a little steadier on their feet.
Four Weeks Old: Exploring begins in wobbly fits and starts, and they wander away from their nest. They’re getting better with using the litter box, and should start learning good grooming habits. Baby teeth begin erupting, but the kittens still need to nurse regularly, and will often purr while doing so, and knead with their paws.
Feline Wellness: Mother cat and kittens should be brought to the Suffolk Veterinary Group Animal Wellness Center within the first two weeks after birth in order to examine mother cat’s post-partum health, as well as the kittens’ health. Mother needs a high-protein food like Hill’s Prescription Diet Feline P/D to help her maintain weight and nutrition while nursing. If the kittens are not properly gaining weight during this time, supplementing their nursing with KMR kitten milk replacement is recommended. Mother and kittens should have a stress-free place to themselves where they can bond, and otherwise be left alone to grow and nurse in quiet.
Medical Concern: Failure To Thrive describes kittens that do not gain weight, show lethargic temperament, or otherwise have difficulty with development that sometimes cause kitten deaths. Mother cats have a tendency to instinctively reject kittens that show a failure to thrive. Any and all kittens displaying a failure to thrive need medical attention right away.
Call 631-696-2400 if you have any questions regarding your young kitten or their mother.
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I want to thank Dr. Winkler and his staff. They are the most compassionate animal care center ever. And when we recently had to put our kitty down, no where else will you receive the compassion they show. God bless them for their kindness and caring hearts.