How to Care for Newborn Kittens

When your cat has kittens, she’ll need some help keeping them healthy and thriving. Here we review how to care for newborn kittens and their mom, including when to check in with your Little Rock veterinarian. 

Post Birth Check and Care

After the first week following the birth, you should take the whole family (cat family that is) to your Little Rock veterinarian for a check-up. This is a crucial wellness appointment where the kittens are checked for signs of struggle, and that mom is healing properly.

Home Care Basics

Following the birth you should follow these basic care guidelines:

  • Check in on mom and kittens regularly to make sure they are fine, and the kittens are feeding
  • Provide a quiet, warm place for the mother to care for her new family
  • Make sure there are warm blankets and consider using a heat lamp to keep kittens warm if mom needs to eat or use the bathroom
  • Stack a pile of towels in their box so you can frequently remove soiled towels easily
  • Follow mom’s cues and leave the family alone if she seems to feel uncomfortable with your attention
  • Keep mom’s food and the litter box nearby
  • The mother should be cleaning her kitten’s abdomen and anal area after nursing. If she isn’t, use a warm, damp washcloth to simulate her licking as it helps keep kittens healthy while also ensuring they go to the bathroom.

These basics will keep mother and kittens comfortable and healthy.

Signs Kittens are Thriving

Understanding the milestones for your kittens will help ensure they are developing properly. Some important signs to watch for include:

  • Day 3: Kittens’ eyes should be opening, and their umbilical cords should fall off.
  • 2 weeks: Kittens will try to stand and begin crawling and their teeth will begin to appear.
  • 3 weeks: Kittens become playful and can walk on their own. This is also the time to encourage them to use the litter box, with a premium non-clay litter. Although the kittens are still nursing, you can also introduce wet food. A vet for kittens Little Rock AR pet owners visit can tell you the best food to try.

If your kittens are not meeting these milestones, it is best to consult your Little Rock veterinarian. Two red flags that a kitten is not thriving are too much sleep and failing to gain weight.  

Caring for Mom

When a mother cat is nursing, she requires a higher quality food. A Little Rock veterinarian can recommend the proper specialty food ideal for postpartum mothers. You should also keep an eye on her for signs of issues including:


Mastitis develops when bacteria infect the milk ducts. This blocks the ducts causing painful inflammation. Check for:

  • Swollen hot teats
  • Bruising around or on the teats
  • Signs mom is pushing kittens away when they try to feed

You do require a visit to your closest Little Rock animal hospital if you notice signs of mastitis as your cat will need antibiotics.

Uterine Metritis

This infection occurs in the uterus following birth. Symptoms include:

  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Loss of milk production

A trip to the local Little Rock animal hospital is a must as this is a serious infection. Often cats are hospitalized due to metritis.

If you have new kittens, become a New Patient at the Shackleford Veterinary Clinic! Click here for more information.


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