Raising the Litter – Weeks 3 to 7

It is widely accepted that the most important time for the socialisation of kittens is from 2 to 7 weeks of age. During this time you should gradually introduce the kittens to different sounds, sights, tastes, smells and feelings.

At about three weeks the kittens are developing their milk teeth and are beginning to stand and walk about although not yet fully coordinated. If you have a large litter you can consider trying to begin the weaning process using proprietary kitten milk made up to the manufacturer’s directions or evaporated milk (diluted 4 parts milk to 1 part water) and mix it with a little baby cereal after the first day. Some kittens will take to this quite quickly whilst others will firmly refuse obviously believing breast is best.

At four weeks you can begin to introduce meat and fish and commercial kitten foods to their diet. Again some will resist this change preferring suckling to chewing and being wary of the different textures. In any event you need to persevere as all kittens will come round in time and more so as they grow and get hungrier. Usually between 5 and 6 weeks of age they will all be eating food 4 times a day at least. Try not to let them become faddy eaters and give them a range of tastes and textures to explore.

As soon as you start to introduce solids the queen will become less keen to toilet her babies, so a small, easy-to-get-in litter tray should be placed in the kitten pen at this stage, in a corner away from their food. If you are using a cardboard box you can cut a hole in the side and place the litter tray beside it.

The kittens will be beginning to play so will want a range of toys as well as different people to assist in their learning.

Next comes Weeks 7 to 13.