A few years ago, we were visiting a rancher friend of ours. On a tour of the barn, we came across an abandoned 3-week old kitten, who was later named Darryl. He was the first kitten of 12 that we have successfully fostered and rehomed, over the past two years. Although I don’t consider myself an expert, these are a few things I have found helpful in taking care of very young kittens:
- Warm, quiet, and secure location that you can confine them in. In our house, we used our spare bathroom, which allowed for a quiet space away from the hustle of the main house.
- A litter box with very low sides. I have found that a box cut down so that there is a 2-3 inch lip works best as this allows the kittens to climb in and out easily.
- Fresh litter. As the kittens grow, it is important to keep the litter pan clean and inviting to encourage proper bathroom habits. If not careful a nice fluffy blanket can also be mistaken for an appropriate place to go the washroom.
- Many warm options for sleeping. We lined a cat kennel with the door removed, a stool with a fleece blanket underneath, a box with a towel above – many options for them to curl up on/in while giving them a place to hide if they so choose.
- A nice steady bowl that is easily cleaned, but difficult to tip over. I found ceramic dishes from the dollar store, that allowed me to keep them clean, but sturdy enough the kittens couldn’t knock over. I also use a dish mat in front of the dishes and litter box to help minimize the mess as kittens learn how to use them.
- Appropriate toys. I have found the best types of toys to stimulate young kittens are balls, small crinkle toys, and items that stimulate natural senses. I avoid small items or strings that the kittens might swallow. For scratching, you can introduce a piece of carpet or cardboard that is easily moved to an appropriate location as they get larger.
- A kitten diet labelled for growth. This is one of the most important things to help a young kitten transition into a new home from the stress of leaving mom. A diet that is well balanced like
- Royal Canin Development or Healthy Advantage Kitten is formulated to not only optimize the kitten’s growth but equips them with the nutrition they need to continue developing a healthy immune system. I also use a product called Fortiflora that is a probiotic. This helps minimize diarrhea when transitioning from milk to solids. Diet changes must be made gradually making sure to take a full seven days to transition to a new diet.
Kittens bring lots of joy and excitement to a home, especially during the first few weeks they are with you. Being prepared for the addition and working with a local veterinarian who can advise you of any concerns will guarantee an enjoyable experience for all!
Written by Rachel MacQueen, RVT