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The very best times to put a kitten in the litter box, is when they need to use it. This will help them learn to go to that box when they feel 'that' urge.
The best times to put a kitten in the litter box is right after they wake up from a nap and 10-15 minutes later, plus right after they eat a meal of solid food (as opposed to nursing).
I recommend keeping kittens with their mother until 8 weeks old. Any sooner and they are so insecure about the world that they don't adapt as well. Any longer and they begin to bond with their mother and litter mates and do feel the pain of loss when separated.
The best time to train a cat how to be held is when they are kittens. We easily train all of our kittens to be held upside down (like a baby) by being consistent. Everytime you pick the kitten up, hold it so that the kitten feels secure, so that it can't fall. Holding kittens must be done the same way, every day so they will learn you won't drop them. This is critical: you must hold them the same way, every day.
You can start weaning the kittens at 4 weeks old. The best way to do this is to simulate a mother's actions. At four weeks, the mother will start leaving the nest/den for longer periods of time, and stretch the time between feedings. She will also start bringing fresh kills into the den for the litter to smell and investigate. No, you don't need to give the kittens raw meat, but you should start giving them moistened Kitten Food in between their formula feedings. I suggest you soak the Kitten food in the milk formula you have used for the last 4 weeks. During the 5th week you can add a bowl of dry food along with the moistened.
The kittens should be eating solid food, and not looking for the eye dropper (formula) at 6 weeks old.
I recommend keeping the kittens together until they are 8 weeks old.
When caring for orphaned kittens, remember that you are replacing their mother who does everything for them during the first three weeks. This includes cleaning them.
You will need to get a good textured wash cloth- like terrycloth- to simulate the mother's tongue. Get the wash cloth wet with very warm water: it should be wet, but not dripping. Gently wash the kitten's face by moving across the eyes and nose area. After the face, gently wash the genital area, this will stimulate the bladder to work, and in the later weeks, teach the kitten to clean itself after a bowel movement.
When litter box training kittens, you must remind them of the litter box, much like you remind a small child of the toilet. Before long trips parents ask their small children, 'Do you need to use the restroom?' You must do the same for kittens.
When the kittens are awake and playing, put them in the litter box twice an hour. This will help remind them where the box is, and they will use it if they feel the need to.
This is an excellent formula for orphaned kittens:
2 Egg Yolks
1/2 teaspoon of bonemeal
1/4 cup brewers yeast
2 cups of whole milk, (or 1 cup of evaporated milk and 1 cup of water)
Whirl in a blender or food processor until well mixed.
Kittens need to be fed much like human babies-every three to four hours, so make sure you have alot of free time on your hands for the next 4 weeks if you take in an abandoned kitten. At four weeks you can start weaning them, but stretching the time between feedings and adding moistened kitten food to their diet.
This is one of three important reasons to change the bedding in your litter's nursery every 2-3 days. If you keep the bedding clean, the kittens learn NOT to use the bedding for their bathroom. This will make sandbox training much easier.
I created two sets of bedding: one was in the litter's nursery, while the other would air dry on the clothes line for a couple of days. I never washed the bedding, just rinsed it and air dried it. Laundry detergents' chemicals and scents could be too strong for kittens.
New parents know to child proof their home; you should kitten/cat proof your home also. Almost everything you would do to child proof a home should be done to make your home safe for your pets. The most obvious things involve securing poisons, cleaning supplies, and all types of medicine out of reach. You should secure all electrical and computer cords in such a manner that they won't tempt Kitty to play with them. In addition, you should eliminate all other temptations to misbehave. Baskets full of fluffy feathers or decorative grasses are a perfect toy; don't be angry if kitty destroys them. Put those delicate knick knacks away for a few months while your new kitty adjusts to your home and learns the rules.
In the wild, mothers will allow their young to gradually expand their horizons, and explore beyond the den in small steps. For your mother and litter, set up the birthing area in a dark, quiet area like a closet in a large cardboard box. When the kittens open their eyes, you can remove the box and let them have run of the closet. When they begin to run and play open the closet door, but close outer door to the room. I don't suggest allowing a kitten, unsupervised, full roam of your home until they are 3-4 months old.
As with human babies, be sure to Kitten Proof your nursery area and the rest of your home.
It is relatively easy to teach a kitten to walk on a lead: first, let it wear the harness (without the leash)in the house over a period of days. 5 minutes per day are enough. You can also let the kitten play with the harness and the leash under your supervision. Reward it with cat treats every time the harness or leash are tolerated without fuss. Then, clip on the leash. Let the kitten romp around the house with the dragging leash (under close supervision, so it does not get trapped). The next step is to pick up the leash and follow the kitten wherever it wants to go, rather than attempting to direct its movements. Finally, you will be able to persuade it to walk by your side. Never drag or pull the kitten, but praise and reward it when it gets things right. Small tugs on the leash are allowed. The last step is to walk your kitten in the garden and the street. Be patient and carry it inside if it becomes frightened. - So what is this good for? The lead may come in useful some day, for example if you need to take your cat to the vet and do not have access to a cat carrier.
To prevent your momma kitty from moving her litter from place to place, change the bedding every two days. I created two sets of bedding for my nursing kitty. While one set was in the 'nursery', the other was hanging on the line. I only rinsed the bedding out with plain water and let them air dry for two days. The chemicals, and fragrances of laundry detergents could be too strong for baby kittens.
To prevent a new kitten from getting lost in your house, try placing a two foot tall piece of plexiglass in the door to the kitten's 'nursery'-the one room you keep her confined to while unsupervised. This will allow the kitten to see outside her room, but she won't be able to climb over the glass. Then as she learns where her sandbox, food dish, and other areas of the house are, you can remove the glass.
Your veterinarian will made recommendations regarding nutritional changes. Don't give any supplements unless advised to do so by your bet. Usually, you will be instructed to feed a growth-formula due to the extra need for protein and calcium, among other nutrients. During the last half of the pregnancy, your vet may advise an increase in the amount of food being fed. That will depend upon your cat's weight and health. You abviously want to avoid creating an overweight cat, which could make her delivery more difficult.
Think Like A Cat
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|