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Newborn Kitten Tips

Veterinarians and Pet Care
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If you have a cat this is will be having kittens soon, or your cat has just had kittens, here are some helpful tips which will help you to know what to expect and how to monitor the health and progress of each newborn kitten.

Just After Birth

A kitten is born without the ability to see or hear; the eyes are completely sealed shut and the ears are folded down. Immediately after birth, a healthy newborn kitten will begin to nurse and will continue to nurse almost constantly for the next few days. When newborn kittens are not nursing they are sleeping, and it is important for them to get all the rest they need at this time.

Normal Nursing Patterns and Weight Gain

After the first few days of almost continuous nursing, kittens generally nurse every one to two hours. For the next few weeks, the kitten’s body weight should dramatically increase at a rate of approximately ½ ounce each day.

Umbilical Cord Care

The mother will clean and sever the kitten’s umbilical cord, and the remaining cord stump on the kitten’s belly will usually fall off on its own within a week. Pet owners should not attempt to cut the cord or clean the cord area themselves. If the area around the umbilical cord looks infected, a veterinarian should be called as soon as possible.


The mother will clean the newborn kittens completely, and keep them clean while they are in her care. Pet owners should not attempt to clean the kittens themselves as the kittens may quickly become dangerously chilled.

Handling a Newborn Kitten

A newborn kitten should not be handled unless absolutely necessary. Handling kittens too much after their birth can disrupt their feeding and sleeping patterns, and they can easily be injured at this time. Plus, kittens need to stay close to their mother for warmth, and each time they are picked up they lose body heat. Once the kittens are past their first week, it is okay to briefly pick them up.

Abnormal Behavior

Newborn kittens which fail to consistently nurse or fail to gain weight should be seen immediately by a veterinarian. A healthy newborn kitten will instinctively seek out the mother’s warmth as well; if a kitten seems to always be off by itself and does not seek warmth, the kitten may need medical attention.

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