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For Cat Owners & Caretakers

Helpful Hints

How to care for a kitten

How Old Is Your Kitten?

Urgent: If the Kitten Is Cold . . .
If your kitten is cold, get it warm! Don’t bother taking its temperature at this point.

Put the kitten in your shirt while you put rice into a sock, tie it shut, and heat it in the microwave for a minute or two, just until it’s warm (not hot!). Wrap the sock in a towel, then put the kitten on it. Make sure the kitten can move away from the heat if it gets too warm. A small box where the kitten can get about 6 inches away from the heat is ideal. Don’t cover the box with a solid lid: best is an open screen that keeps the kitten safely inside while letting air circulate freely.

If you don’t have rice and a sock handy, put a towel in the clothes dryer until it’s toasty warm, but not hot. Rub the kitten with the towel, or wrap it loosely in the towel. Make sure the kitten’s head is free of the towel. Be careful not to overheat the kitten.

A cold kitten may also be hypoglycemic (have low blood sugar), so rub a few drops of Karo syrup on its gums, every half hour for an hour and a half, while continuing to warm the kitten.

Once you have it on a heat source, do offer it food.

Flea Anemia
Fleas are not just a nuisance—they are probably the leading cause of kitten death in open cat households. Do not treat kittens with flea products; it could poison them. Instead, groom them using a flea comb. You must groom all your kittens at the same time, since the fleas readily travel among the kittens. Repeat the grooming often, until all the fleas are gone. It’s a time-consuming but life-saving task. As a bonus, it helps socialize the kitten.

Nurtural, KMR, and Just Born milk replacers are widely used for animal rearing. Refrigerate any opened container (liquid or powdered). Throw out any leftover formula after it’s been heated.

How Often?

How Much?

Kittens over 4 weeks old should have fresh water available at all times.

Bowel and Bladder Training
Very young kittens must be stimulated to defecate and to urinate. After each feeding, take a warm, wet cotton ball and gently massage the kitten’s anus and surrounding area with a circular motion. (If a sore develops from too much rubbing, apply a thin layer of Preparation H.) After a minute or so, urine and/or feces will be excreted.

Kittens should defecate every day. It may not be solid, but some sort of soft, light yellow or brown material should be produced. If the kitten has not defecated in 48 hours, have it checked by a vet: it may be dehydrated and/or constipated.