How To Raise A Kitten? A Must-Read Guide For Cat Owners

Arpitha Rajendra
Feb 19, 2024 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Oct 28, 2021
Edited by Jade Scott
Kitten sleeps resting its head on a ball of yarn.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 10.6 Min

A kitten loves playing with its litter box but will also get bored of it easily.

A young kitty who is in their first year will need extra nutrients. Feeding them good quality food will allow them to thrive in their life.

Kittens are adorable little creatures, aren't they? They are curious all the time, trying to understand their surroundings. We have learned to take care of domesticated animals for ages. In the wild, kittens are fully dependent on their mother cats for survival. Kittens typically open their eyes 7-10 days after birth. Kittens will develop fast and start exploring the world after two weeks of age. Domesticated kittens are social animals and love being around human beings. With the proper training, food, and care, kittens will grow into happy, well-adjusted, and healthy adult cats. Cats are social, friendly, and cuddly animals that can get better at socialization and can be as good as dogs if trained well. You can raise a kitten to be cuddly in a peaceful environment. Around two to three months from the start of their life kittens are vaccinated against common diseases and also neutered early. Kittens will need as much care and love as dogs do and it is recommended to adopt or buy a healthy kitten.

The term kitten is a derivation of kitoun, a Middle English term that is a modification of cheton or chitoun from Old French. Juvenile big cats are usually referred to as cubs and not kittens. However, both these terms are used for young wild felids like caracals, ocelots, and lynxes.

If you enjoyed reading these facts on how to raise a kitten then make sure to read some more interesting facts about how to raise a duck and how to raise a chick here at Kidadl.

When can kittens be adopted?

Kittens must be adopted around 10-12 weeks of age although the RSPCA specifies that you can adopt kittens from around eight weeks of age.

A cat produces around two to five kittens after a gestation period of 64-67 days with an average of 66 days. For several weeks after birth kittens depend on their mother for everything from regulating body temperature to defecating. If the mother is not around to keep the kitten's temperature stable then the kitten will face hypothermia and die. They will not be able to regulate body temperature until they are older than four weeks of age. A mother cat's milk also transfers vital antibodies into kittens, which fight against infectious diseases. After a kitten opens its eyes at around 7-10 days, the kitten will not be able to see as clearly as an adult cat can. After two weeks of age, kittens develop very fast until their seventh week. The kittens are then able to explore their world, learning to clean themselves and showing their hunting abilities due to improved strength and coordination. Their littermates will help with the development of better socialization as adult cats. They will also learn to play and communicate appropriately with other cats. After 6-8 weeks of age, weaning completes and kittens will then eat solid food. Kittens will learn about hard and soft bites and their needed nutrition from their mother and littermates. Generally speaking, it is a lot better to get healthy kittens that are around 12 weeks old.

Taking a kitten home before the age of eight weeks can impact their health as an adult cat. In this case, the kitten's socialization period shortens, which will make them more aggressive towards people and other cats. They probably will not feel safe, making them edgy all the time. Your kitty will also lack good manners and avoid human contact. Your kitty will only learn about soft and hard bites from their mother. However, if he does bite you hard experts suggest you walk away to curb this behavior as that is what their moms would do too. It is best for kittens to learn all of this from their mom. Breeders will also neuter or spay before a kitten gets to its new house. Kittens will also need to be fully vaccinated before they leave for their forever house.

Raising A Kitten Without A Mother

You can raise a kitten without a mother by providing bedding, a litter box, a nesting box, light, a feeding bottle, a milk replacer, dry and meat kitten foods, adult cat food, cotton balls, and a scale.

For the development of a kitten's behavior, a mother's care is necessary. The kitten will socialize better, play with other cats in your house, learn to use the litter box, and will build a stronger immune system. Weaning starts when the kitten is four weeks old so that the kitten is able to survive when it is almost six weeks old. However, this process completes only after the kitten is 12 weeks old. Otherwise, it causes wool-sucking in a kitten. Kittens that are hand-raised have a bad reputation of being clingy or trying to nurse on their humans. You will also need to give your kitten round-the-clock attention. Your pet will need a kitten-proof space. You can provide your motherless pet with a safe and warm space; make sure to place a layer of clean and dry bedding inside a crate or small box. It is good to keep the crate dark with space for airflow. The crate should be as warm as the kitten's temperature requirements by suspending a light bulb in the far end, high enough to not come in contact with your pet. The bed needs to be changed every few days. Kitten milk replacements are available in many places and you can feed your kitten using a nursing bottle or feeding device. It is necessary to monitor your pet while you feed them. Your pet can be fed every two hours, which can be varied as your pet grows. Around three weeks of age, you can introduce your kitten to meat kitten food. Dry food can be included later on.

Make sure to transfer your pet to the litter box after meals for regular excretion. You can also stimulate excretion by rubbing a warm, moist cotton ball against the genital and anal areas. Sometimes a kitten might excrete in the litter box before eating. You can also identify any health issues by a change in the color of the feces. Training your kitten to socialize with other kittens or even littermates from an early age is great for them in the long run. You can introduce your pet to other kittens as early as possible. Your pet can play with other kittens or kittens of the same family for an hour before and after eating.

A small gray kitten in the arms of a woman plays and bites.

Tips For Raising A Kitten

Some tips for kitten care include limiting treats, using rewarding for good behavior, preventive care, stroking gently, soft speaking, providing nutrition, fresh water, and food dishes, a cat carrier, and collars.

Before adoption, make sure to kitten-proof your house by setting access limits and getting rid of dangerous things. Adoption of a kitten must be done around their 12th week in order to raise and train a kitten to have good behavior.

Provide appropriate amounts of treats and kitten food to your pet as per their age. There are other necessary items to care for a kitten such as a litter box, water and food bowls, kitten food, places to hide, a soft and clean bed, and grooming tools.

Initially, it is best to leave your pet in a room with all the above-required items. The kitten must explore the place alone. You can also spend time in the room and let them approach you. Once the kitten knows the location of its water, food, and litter box, you can open the room door.

Between the ages of 3-6 months, your kitten is ready to play with toys. Small stuffed toys are great for kittens as they explore their hunting skills. Make sure to put all the toys away once they are tired. You can also play with your pet but do not use your bare hands. It is OK to expose your pet to different sounds like a vacuum, loud music, or running water.

It is necessary to continue feeding your kitten what they ate at the shelters. Sudden diet changes can cause stomach upsets. Make sure to include meat as their main diet for added protein and calcium. Gradually adjust the cat food as your pet grows. Also, avoid additional food items.

Within one week of getting the kitten home, take it to the vet. Regular vet visits are necessary because they will allow you to keep a check on your pet's health. It is necessary to desex and vaccinate your pet. Your vet will let you know what the appropriate age is for neutering. The vet will suggest the vaccinations required for your pet as per diseases a cat might contact in that area. Also, be sure to prevent worms by deworming your kitten regularly.

Training A Kitten

You can train your kitten by using treats, cleaning litter boxes, using crates, socializing, using toys, safe playing, and proper feeding.

You can efficiently train your kitten by using food treats. You can start to train your kitten after they have learned to socialize. Make sure to use the right treat to build positive affirmation. You can use verbal affirmation and spoken cues with the treats.

Before you start training, know the age of your kitten as it is more difficult to train a kitten that has weaned early. Make sure not to stop socialization and handling your kittens.

To begin training it is better to start it off before a meal. Kittens or cats are more receptive when they are hungry. Try to hold your cat's attention with food and treats but do not deny them food. Try to keep your cat's focus on you and eliminate any sound in the background like a stereo or a T.V. Always try to train them in a quiet place. Felines easily get bored. Hold their attention only a little while, approximately 15 minutes. Do not make the training sessions run longer.

Always make use of the same cues and signals that you first used. However, you can change the kind of treat you provide your kitten. Focus on only one thing for your training sessions. Let your kitten master one skill set before you move on to the other.

Have patience when you use treats to make sure your kitten gives you full attention. Try to feed your kitten in a routine if your kitten overeats, otherwise you can leave out the food bowl filled the whole day. Never feed your pet from the table.

You can also effectively train your kitten to poop in the litter box. You will need to place your pet in the litter box. It is also recommended that the owners sit with them while they explore the litter box. The litter box needs to be cleaned often like the food and water bowls. On a regular basis, you will need to use only one kind of litter otherwise your kitten will either be confused or will stop using the litter box. Keep removing the dry clumps of urine and poop from the box. Also, make sure there is nothing left in the litter box like toys, food, or treats. Your cat will not defecate in a place where there is food.

A clicker can be used to train your cat too. If you see a behavior you want your kitten to associate as positive then click at the exact time. You can start providing one treat per click and they will associate the click sound with a treat. So, whenever your pets walk up to you, you click and give the treat. Every cat does not prefer the same food. It is better to experiment with a variety of treats like fish, chicken, tuna, or steak. You can provide the treat once your kitten completes the task. Similarly, you can also train your kitty to respond to your command. Pick short and cue terms to get your pet's attention. Here too you can make use of the clicker method. Call the command and once your pet turns toward you click the clicker. Provide the kitty with an immediate threat. Over many training sessions, your pet will respond to cues and commands.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestion for how to raise a kitten, then why not take a look at how to raise a goat or Persian cat facts?

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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