Samantha O’Boyle, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist
Previously I went over kitten care from birth to 5 weeks of age. I will now focus on 5-6 weeks of age to 8 weeks of age and older.
- Litter box (litter non-clumping due to potential for ingestion)
- Kitten toys
- Small scale/bowl for top of scale
- Shallow bowls for training to eat
Care by Age:
5-6 weeks old
Kittens are becoming more independent at this age. They can start roaming around the house, under supervision of course. Curious kittens will get into trouble
They should be fully weaned or almost completely weaned for the stragglers at this point. Feed them gruel 4 times a day. The gruel can be thickened gradually to help them learn to chew and you can try introducing dry kitten food and fresh water. Each kitten should weigh around 1 pound. The testicles on the male kittens should be visible at this age.
Play-time and socialization are important at this age. They should be played with every day or at least in the room where you spend most of your time. This will help the kittens get acclimated to normal house noises (i.e. Tv, laundry, dish washer, etc.) and your voice. You will also notice that their individual personalities will start taking shape. Some will be more out-going while others will be shy. Do not rush the kittens to develop at the same time. Let them learn and grow and of course enjoy the laughs.
6-7 weeks old
Wet canned food and dry food should be consumed readily at this stage and the kittens can be fed (food bowls filled) at least 3 times a day. Monitor their eating habits to make sure the more aggressive kittens are not hogging the food from their siblings. Kittens should eat in frequent intervals throughout the day since their stomachs are not very large.
Kittens should be learning to groom themselves and begin to cat more cat-like. If there is not an adult cat in the house to teach them grooming, you may help them by rubbing and petting them with a warm wash cloth that is only slightly damp. This can simulate a mother with her kittens and will help keep those messy kittens clean.
Make sure that you are showing the kittens where the litter box is located and place them in it after meals, naps or play sessions. Some kittens pick up this skill up easily while others do not. If you notice any feces outside of the box, pick it up with a tissue and place it in the box and cover with litter. This will help them with scent where the feces was moved. You can also help them learn to scratch and sift around in the litter, but most will do this instinctively.
7-8 weeks old
Not much has changed this week though the kittens are probably more active and plumper. Dry food can always be left down with wet food being presented 3-4 times a day. Each kitten may be consuming up to 1 can of wet food per day. Kittens may know their names at this stage as well.
Your kittens should have been handled frequently by this point. Touching their paws, ears and tails will help them become used to being touched. This will help in the further for vet visits and nail trimming.
8 weeks old and over
Eating habits with the dry and wet food are the same. Of course, the amount they are consuming has probably increased. Hopefully your kittens are well behaved and socialized.
Each kitten should be about 2 pounds each. It is almost time for them to return to the shelter or humane society for their spay or neuter and then to find their new fur-ever home.
Fostering is a very emotional and trying experience, but it is completely rewarding as well. Once you get through the process and make it to the end of the tunnel, just remember, you are providing a new family with a wonderful furry family member that you helped to raise.