If you adopt or rescue a kitten that is 5 weeks old, you will need to purchase several supplies to accommodate the new furry addition to your family. Kittens this young need lots of love, special care, feeding and handling to ensure they grow up healthy and happy.
Kittens younger than 10 weeks old need a warm bed, to prevent them from becoming chilled, according to Vetstreet. An ideal spot is a simple cardboard box lined with a warm blanket. Place a heating pad into the box as well, set to low. Wrap it in a towel or blanket so it won't accidentally burn your kitty. Leave enough room in the box so your furbaby can move away from the heating pad if he gets a bit too warm. Another option is a heated cat bed, which contains a heating pad inside a soft, furry cover. Add a clean stuffed animal to give your young kitty some soft companionship inside his snuggle spot.
Only purchase kitten-specific food, labeled as "for growth and reproduction." These foods contain higher amounts of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals for growing little babies, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The wet or dry foods you select need to meet the nutritional profiles set out by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which should be listed on the label. In addition to kitten food, you will need to provide plenty of fresh water for your kitty, given in a shallow dish so he doesn't accidentally drown. As he grows, you can give him water in a larger bowl.
A 5-week-old kitten shouldn't require bottle feeding. Once kittens reach 4 weeks of age, their mother usually begins to wean them off milk and onto solid foods. Because the weaning process can take up to six weeks, purchase a small amount of kitten milk replacement formula and mix it into your kitten's food during his first two weeks with you. These formulas come premixed or as powders that are mixed with water. Typically a 5-week-old kitten needs to be fed four to five times a day, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. You will need a shallow dish or large plate. Things might get messy when feeding a mixture of formula and solid food to your kitten. Keep some damp towels handy to wipe him up after he eats, and likely walks in, the food. A soft baby brush also will keep your little kitty well-groomed.
Kittens start to eliminate on their own around 4 weeks old, so your 5-week-old kitten needs a litter box. Choose a litter box with low sides so that your furbaby can climb inside easily. Leave the top off a covered litter box until your kitten is slightly older so he's not intimidated or scared by it. Use a non-clumping litter to fill the box until your kitten reaches 4 months of age. Young kittens might try eating the litter or could lick it off their feet while grooming. Ingestion of clumping litter can cause an intestinal blockage in very young kittens, according to the Partnership for Animal Welfare.
Your little furbaby will need to visit the vet several times before he becomes an adult to get his necessary vaccinations, kitten-safe flea repellents, worming medications and regular health checkups. To get him there, or to any other destination safely, purchase a cat carrier big enough so that he can grow into it. If you plan to fly with him in the future, choose a carrier that is airline approved. While at the vet, have your little one microchipped so that he can be identified if he gets out of your home or his carrier while traveling.
Fun and Safe Play
Kittens need a variety of cat toys so they don't become bored during the day. Protect your furniture by providing plenty of scratching posts for your little kitty to stretch his claws on and scratch. Cat condos or cat trees provide a way for your growing furbaby to climb and explore his new environment. They also are great places for the little guy to take a nap. For safety purposes, protect your electrical cords with cord covers. Your 5-week-old kitten will be teething and cats like to chew on electrical cords, a definite safety hazard.
- Purrfect Companions: Orphan Kitten Care
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Hand Rearing Kittens
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Selecting Nutritious Pet Foods
- Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine: A Purrfect Start
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Newborn Kitten Care
- Partnership for Animal Welfare: How to Care for Your Kitten
- Hartz: New Cat Checklist
- Veterinary Partner: Orphan Puppy & Kitten Care
- Vetstreet: Kitten Basics 101 -- Taking Care of Your New Kitten
- kitten image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com