Taking care of a young kitty before she's completely weaned from her mother can be slightly overwhelming. At 4 weeks old the kitten should just be starting the weaning process and moving onto kitten food, which means you're going to have to get a little messy in the kitchen.
It might seem logical to give cow's milk to a young kitten, but this would be a mistake. Cow's milk doesn't have the correct nutrients for baby kittens, and it can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Milk replacement formulas are specifically designed for orphaned baby animals. Some are suitable for kitties and puppies, while others are specifically designed for the nutrition of a young, frisky feline. At 4 weeks old your kitten will still be using this formula in addition to a homemade gruel. You can find kitten milk replacement formula at most grocery stores, pet supply stores and big-box stores.
Starting at 3 weeks old, a young kitten is encouraged by the momma cat to stop suckling and start eating different foods. At 4 weeks old your little guy should be eating primarily a gruel mixture. To make the gruel, mix kitten replacement formula with a high-quality wet or dry kitten food and warm water. Mix it to the consistency of oatmeal. If you use dry food, it should be mostly softened before feeding, so you might need to let it sit in the milk replacement and water for a little bit.
To get the baby to try the gruel, place a little on the tip of your finger and hold your finger to the kitty's mouth. Slowly move your finger to the saucer of gruel while your kitten follows it. He should be more than eager to start lapping up the entree. Over the next couple of weeks, gradually thicken the gruel until your baby is eating plain kitten food.
Timing and Calories
Newborn kittens need to eat every two to three hours, but at 4 weeks old you can cut this down to every six to eight hours. If your little furbaby doesn't seem to take to the gruel right away, you might have to still provide milk replacement in addition to make sure she's getting enough calories.
Your kitten needs approximately 8 calories per ounce of body weight. Most milk replacement formula contains 1 calorie per milliliter.
Your little guy should be starting to play more and become the frisky cat he's meant to be at this age. He's still a baby, though, so you might need to help him out with a few things to get him on his way.
Momma cats clean their babies throughout the day while also stimulating elimination. Your little guy should be able to poop on his own by now, but just in case, you should wipe his rear and lower abdomen with a warm, damp cotton ball to stimulate elimination. Wash him with a slightly damp, soft cloth all over his body, and play to get him socialized and on his way to cathood.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.