To wrap up our series on newborn kittens: start to finish, we’ll now cover the kittens’ growth.

Whether you’re celebrating the birth of a beautiful litter of kittens from your own domestic cat or having stumbled upon the most unfortunate situation of abandoned newborn kittens, knowing how to care for them is crucial.

While most of us know how to take care of older kittens and their adult full-grown versions, newborn kittens can be quite the mystery. The type of care needed is largely dependent on how present or maternally functional the mother cat is.

In Case of Abandonment

It is not unlikely for mothers to abandon their kittens. Though mind-boggling, a surrogate will be needed. Congratulations! You’re it : ).

Other times it might only be one or two kittens from the litter that get rejected by the mom, so you’ll need to personally see to their well-being in terms of attention & food.

Bottle Feeding Kittens

If it’s the case that the mother has passed away, completely abandoned the litter or cesarean, bottle feeding will be necessary.

newborn kitten

Purchase kitten-sized bottles and sterilize them properly with boiling water before every use. Research the best kitten milk replacements available in your area or buy emergency milk from your nearest pet store. The process of feeding should be done a few times a day for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.

You can emulate the mother’s process of stimulating elimination, which she does by licking the genital and anal areas of the kitten by wiping those areas with a damp cloth. The kittens should be able to excrete and urinate by themselves after two and a half weeks.  Allow the kittens to sleep after nursing.

Introducing the Litter Box

The best way to introduce kittens to a litter box is when they might have the “urge” to go. The ideal time to place the kittens inside the box would be between 10-15 minutes after waking.

If managed correctly, this will become a routine habit and will teach them a great deal about discipline & consistency.

When is it time for real food?

During the first few weeks the kittens will be nursed by either the mother’s milk or bottle fed by their surrogate. During this time kittens are fed every two to three hours.

When the kittens start exploring the areas outside of the “nest” it might be the ideal time to introduce real food. This process will start when the kittens are about three to four weeks old.

The “real food” can be a combination of dry kitten food and replacement milk. This way the consumption would be easy and the formula chewable.

Allowing Human Interaction

If you are preparing the kittens for possible adoption, it is important to nurture their social abilities. You can start this process by picking up a kitten and cradling them as you would a baby.

If you are preparing the kittens for adoption, it is important to nurture their social abilities.

This process should be repeated every day, with the kitten being held in the exact same way so that they can become accustomed to the process and start to trust humans.

Keep things Clean and Hygienic

You should replace the “nest” with clean bedding about every two to three days. This way your kittens won’t get confused between the “bedroom” and the “bathroom”. Keeping the area as well as the kittens clean is also a way ensuring healthy, happy kittens.

Make your home Kitten-Safe

It won’t be long before your kittens adapt to their true nature of exploring every nook and cranny of your home. Be sure to safeguard your dwelling by removing anything that might be dangerous or damaging to the newborns.


Electrical cords and cables should not be reachable and don’t leave any medicine and cleaning supplies lying around.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when caring for newborn kittens. The relationship between the mother and kittens is crucial and if possible should be watched closely. If you end up being a surrogate mother, emulate the nursing habits of a cat as closely as possible and make sure that your kittens are warm, safe and fed properly to ensure a happy kitten-to-adult life & transition.

Topic for Discussion:

Have you ever performed the duty of surrogate kitten mother? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!
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