Recently our family has welcomed a new kitten into our home. She’s only 4 weeks old. Obviously she’s really too young to be away from her mommy but there’s a story behind it. We have a few barn cats. There were a couple here when we first moved into our house many years ago. Some of the ones that were here long ago are gone while we now have a couple that are only a few years old. Anyway, one of them had a litter of kittens. We try to get any females we have fixed but we didn’t get a chance to get this one. She’s way too feral to even catch her.
It was her first litter and something wasn’t right. She had 5 kittens but none of them survived except for one. But after only 2 or 3 weeks she stopped feeding this one kitten she had left. She just abandoned it. We couldn’t leave it outside in the barn. It would never survive all alone. So we brought her in the house and I started feeding her kitten formula with a feeding bottle. She stayed in a box for her safety. When she was about 4 weeks old, she started climbing out of the box and playing.
At that time she wouldn’t stay in the box at all and would meow at night unless she slept with me. After a couple of nights being out of the box, she got a little better with it and was just fine sleeping in a balled up blanket next to me inside of literally on me.
By then, I started trying to feed her soft kitten food. The only canned kitten food I could find was Fancy Feast so that’s what we buy. I wouldn’t recommend regular canned cat food. The Kitten Fancy Feast is also made with kitten formula as well.
The kids adore her. She even greet them when they come home from school. She’s getting better at running around and every day she gets better at playing and wanting to play more. She’s also getting better at bathing herself too. It’s so neat to watch a kitten learn instinctual things in such a short amount of time.
The great thing is that they grow and learn pretty quickly. By the time she was 4 weeks old she was starting to climb and play and as she gets closer to her 5th weeks of life, she gets better and better at it. She climbs all over the furniture now and every day she explores more and more of the house. She used to stick around one area of the living room but now sometimes I have to go looking for her.
She loves to play and loves to cuddle for sure.
Last night she went all “crazy kitty” at 3am though and then this morning she was “little miss lazy bones”. The kids named her. They were the ones that wanted to call her Earl. Yes, I didn’t quite understand it myself. But the boys got the name from Earl Grey Tea. Since she was mostly grey, they wanted to call her Earl because Grey just didn’t seem like a real name. We’ll go with it. Kid logic is pretty cool sometimes.
Now that you have met Earl, below I will leave some tips if you ever need to take care of a young kitten. I am not an expert and I am not a veterinarian either. These tips are from information that I have looked up or asked a vet myself. If you ever have any questions about how to care for a young kitten, please ask a vet for anything you aren’t sure on.
At 3 weeks, she’s probably going to still be too young to try any soft kitten food. If you have a kitten that young, you will want to feed kitten formula with a feeding bottle. She’s not going to know how to drink from a dish just yet.
At about 4 weeks, mommy cats usually try to start to wean kittens and try to teach them to eat cat food. If your kitten is 4 weeks old and is walking pretty steadily and easily, it might be a good time to try kitten food and not just formula.
At 4 weeks, Earl was starting to eat soft kitten food as previously mentioned. I still give her formula once or twice a day just so she can still get the nutrients from the formula. She has started to drink water from a dish so instead of feeding her with the bottle, I put a little formula in a dish so she gets used to not needing to nurse.
If you are feeding your 4 week kitten soft food, pay attention to how much she is eating. Don’t give her more than what she can eat. I give Earl about a quarter of a can of kitten food. The kitten food cans are pretty small too. I feed her in the same spot every day so if she is hungry, she normally goes to her dish. She usually eats 3-4 times a day since she eats small portions each time so essentially by the end of the day she goes through one can of food per day.
At this age, you can also try feeding some dry food. Make sure it is a kitten formula because it’s better for their digestive system. Plus the pieces are smaller too. I give Earl just a little bit when I feed her soft food. That way she can learn how to eat the dry food. She’s getting better at it so I am hoping in a couple weeks she will be eating it like a pro so I don’t have to feed her nothing but canned food.
Make sue she was a water dish and you will probably want to make sure it is a shallow dish. She’s not going to know how to drink from a dish right away but make sure to show her the dish and encourage her to drink.
Litter Box Training
This might take a little bit of time for a younger kitten. This in another thing that mommy cats do. If you have an indoor cat with kittens, mom usually shows her kittens what to do. I even noticed our barn cats do the same thing. None of them go in the barn or in our mudroom/outside hallway where they also like to hang out to get away from the weather.
My first tip on a litter box is to use one of those foil baking pans. Earl is too small to easily get in and out of a regular sized litter box. The foil pans work really great for little ones like her.
Place the pan in a kind of secluded area because cats naturally tend to want some privacy. Obviously make sure it’s easily accessible.
Don’t use a clay clumping litter. Use a litter that is safer for kittens because they tend to eat it. It’s normal for them to do this until they grow out of it around 10 weeks or so. I would recommend keeping an eye on your kitten when using the litter box. A little here or there probably won’t hurt but litter can hurt them and and be harmful to their digestive system.
With kittens, make sure you show them the litter box. Take them there often. If you notice your kitten is going somewhere in the same spot, try moving the litter box in that area. With Earl, I take her to the litter box first thing in the morning and every time after she eats. She still hasn’t actually used the litter box yet but another thing that can be helpful is if you take her paw and scratch her paw in the litter for her.
Eventually she will get it. A litter box is another one of those things that are instinctual as well and is something that they normally pick up fairly quickly. Too bad potty training little humans wasn’t as easy.
I am adding this bit here because I was worried Earl wasn’t having any. First of all, when you kitten has her diet changed liked transitioning to kitten food, it may take a couple days for her digestive system to get working properly. This is a normal thing. If it lasts longer than a couple days you may need to get her checked or do some things to help stimulate her to go.
I haven’t tried this but hairball medication may help move things along. Another thing I saw when reading up on it was that you could try giving them cow’s milk. I personally wouldn’t recommend this because I always believed regular cow’s milk was bad for kittens and cats because it can make them have stomach issues and diarrhea. I would strongly urge you to talk to a vet about either of those two options.
Another thing I read (and it seems to help Earl) is to take a warm wet washcloth and rub her belly with it. You might even want to squeeze very gently on her belly. This can sometimes help stimulate her for a bowel movement.
The only time to be alarmed is if her belly feels hard or overly full and she’s not eating much. If you think she isn’t having bowel movements and her belly isn’t hard and she’s eating fine, most likely you just aren’t finding where she is going.
Last But Definitely NOT LEAST
Love her. It’s that simple.