What Is Necessary for Young Kitten Care?

cat with glasses reading book

If you adopted a kitten that was just six weeks old, would you know how to take care of it? I was asked this question recently on Quora, and decided that our readers here on The Literate Cat might appreciate the information as well.


First of all, how do you choose a kitten? First, you have to decide where to get it. Do you know someone with a cat that just had kittens? Do you go to a shelter? Do you buy a cat from a breeder?

It’s your choice.

It is better to leave a kitten with its mother until it is eight to twelve weeks old. By then, it is completely weaned and has learned some important skills from its mother. Kittens can be taken from their mother as early as six weeks old, but the recommendation is to wait a bit longer. The cat who is weaned early may end up with poor learning skills. Also, it may show aggressive3 kittens seated, looking up behavior.

It is important that the kitten has learned to use a litter box before taking it from the mother. Also, when you are ready to move, make the process easier by taking something the kitten has slept on, so it will have a familiar smell in its new sleeping quarters.


So now you have a whole litter of darling kittens to choose from. How do you decide? Here are some pointers. First, watch the kittens. Which one is the most active and the most interested in its surroundings? This cat may end up being the most social and the most playful. In fact, watch the kittens play together and determine which one is the most active.

Once the kittens are used to you being there, they may come to investigate you. Observe which ones come to you. Perhaps the one most interested in who you are would be the best one to choose.


orange kitten sleepingWhen you bring the kitten home, create a space that is its own. Set aside a small room or space in an out-of-the-way place that is quiet, and thus not stressful. Put the food dish, water, a comfy bed, and a litter box in the space. A scratching post and some toys are good additions. You might use a playpen for the kitten’s first territory. To give it a place to hide, put a cardboard box close by, with a kitten-sized entry way cut into it.

Do not put the litter box close to the bed. After all, would you like to sleep next to your toilet?


At first, don’t pick the kitten up and pat it continuously. Give the animal time to adjust to its new home. Its adjustment to people should be gradual. Let the kitten make the first move.

It is important that you teach your children how to handle the baby cat. Teach older children how to pick it up and handle it properly, but limit the amount of time they interact for the first few weeks. Give the kitten a chance to bond with its new family at its own speed. It is unsafe for the small baby cat to be handled by children under five, or by children who are too rough to interact with it gently and properly.

Regarding the litter box: Cats are fastidious, so keep that box clean. If you do not, your new resident may find some other, cleaner spot. If you keep the box clean, the kitten will be pleased and the box will not stink.


Feeding a very young cat is important. You need a good-quality food that is made especially for kittens. Make sure it is nutrient complete.

There is such a thing as kitten formula. Often it contains goat’s milk, as well as other nutrients. Do not give your kitten straight cow’s milk, as it will cause diarrhea. You can buy a prepared kitten formula, or you can make your own. I found several recipes online.

You can usually switch to adult cat food when the kitten is about a year old. A visit to the vet of your choice would be a good idea early on after your kitten’s move to your house. One thing the vet can advise you on is how much and how often to feed. Then establish a feeding schedule so the kittenwhite kitten leaning against brown, black cover will know when to expect meals.

Always keep the water in the bowl fresh. They do like fresh water. My Spruce Island caretaker, Greg, decided once while I was gone to give the cats and the dog their water in one dish. He cut the bottom six inches off a five-gallon bucket and put it on the kitchen floor for the animals to share. My big Sam cat, when he wanted a drink, would sit in front of that water dish and skim off the surface several times with his paw. He wanted all the dog slobber out of the way. Once he had swished off the surface, he would drink.


From your vet, learn about what shots the cat will need, and at what age it should be neutered or spayed. Also, there are several signs to watch for that might indicate illness. Some signs of pet illness are: lack of appetite, not much weight gain, nasal discharge, vomiting, severely painful abdomen, having trouble passing urine, having diarrhea, difficulty breathing, wheezing or coughing, pale gums, swollen, red eyes, or excessive discharge.


After the kitten is settled well in its space, let it out to explore the rest of the house. If other animals are present, keep them away from the kitten for these first couple of explorations. Don’t give the kitten too many new stimuli at once. The little cat has a lot of adjusting to do.

If you do have another animal in the house, you will have to give the kitten and the present resident time to adjust to each other. Keep them separated at first. Put one of the other animal’s blankets in with the kitten, and put one of the kitten’s with your other animal. This way they can get used to the other animal’s smell before they actually meet.

For the first introduction, you might want to put the kitten in the carrier and have the two kitten in Christmas treeanimals sniff each other while the kitten is safely locked in. If this first meeting goes okay, the next time you can open the room door and let them meet in the room with you close by to monitor. It may take a while, but give them time and give them both attention and affection. Most of the time an adjustment will take place.

Once the kitten is used to this new place and starts to bond with you, enjoy this little newcomer in your household. The laughter that comes from watching its antics is good for your health.

I used several internet references for the information in this post. The two main ones were Vetstreet.com and Wikihow.



4 thoughts on “What Is Necessary for Young Kitten Care?”

  1. I love the design, your kitties are so cute. Very nicely arranged on the page. There is a good market for pet products, I love poopsie jingle, if you can think of a song like that to stick in your head, an audio clip could be fun!

    Nurse Becca

    • Hello, and thank you for commenting.  Do come back to my site again for a visit.  There are some funny stories in the “Cat Tales” sectiion.

  2. Hi Fran,

    What an absolutely well laid out website. Congratulations. It was a joy to navigate (and the tidbits on the right add a nice element to your content).

    We have had a few cats… I’m not a cat man, but a couple of my daughters might be considered cat ladies. The post on kitten care was spot on. If anyone is going to be getting a kitten for the first time, you certainly gave them enough information to do it right.

    The orange kitten you have shown near the PREPARE YOUR HOUSE FOR THE NEW RESIDENT paragraph is exactly like the latest cat we got (that was three years ago, he is now known as Garfield by our friends, though his name is Keifer). He was a funny addition because when we got him, he would lay anywhere, oblivious to everything around him. The problem was that he blended in with the tiles and was pretty well camouflaged. We don’t know how many times he almost got trampled or actually got booted around. He was never phased by it, and it never bothered him. To this day he’s an easy go lucky cat, still lying around wherever he wants without worrying about getting stepped on or accidentally kicked.

    We have an older grey-toned cat named Squirt. He got his name because when he was rescued he was really tiny and we didn’t know if he would live. Our youngest daughter (maybe 12 at the time) was out getting some groceries at the market and heard a faint MEOW. As she looked around to see where it came from, she realized that it came from a heap of garbage on the side of the road. She is an animal lover and was determined to rescue this kitten. She managed to find it and brought it home. The girls nursed it to health and he is still with us some 6 years later (though getting a little forgetful of his surroundings).

    Keep up the good work.

    • Cats often play an important part in our lives.  They represent a creature we can love and learn from, simply because it is not human, and so is different from us.  I think we often need to be more accepting of differences, and perhaps having a cat introduces us to such a subject.  I enjoyed reading about your cats.  They can do the most astounding things, and can give us so much pleasure.


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