If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I have been doing a series lately on caring for orphaned newborn kittens. We started at week two, and if you have been reading week by week, then you are onto week eight!
This series has aimed to be a complete guide of knowing how to care for these newborn kittens. And week eight is the last week of this series. Why, you may ask? Because technically at eight weeks, kittens are able to be taken from their mothers.
Orphaned Eight-Week-Old Kittens
If you find an eight-week-old kitten, you can be considered lucky. If you have ready my post about two-week-old kittens all the way through to seven-week-old kittens, then you know that kittens under the age of eight weeks desperately need their mother for warm, food, and shelter. As time goes on, they begin to get stronger and stronger and are able to survive on their own more and more.
If you have been reading since two weeks, then you are doing well! You made it to eight weeks! You have made it to the time where they are doing well are their own! You have made it to what I call the “final” stage of the newborn kittens.
At about eight weeks, they can start to venture off on their own. This is also the age in which kittens are adopted out. If you find a kitten and are unsure of their age, here is an easy sign. If you read the description of a four, six, even seven-week-old kitten, and they seem farther along than those, than excellent! You have at least an eight-week-old kitten in your presence.
They should be weening completely onto wet food and no longer requiring a bottle at all. They should be getting comfortable with the litter box, and having nearly no accidents. Their weight should be continuing to gain steadily, but the speed will definitely slow down. They are growth will continue to grow until about a year. A year is when they will really reach their full size so you will see them have growth spurts from now until around a year..
How to Tell a Kitten is Eight Weeks Old
First, let’s talk about how to tell if a kitten is eight weeks old. At eights weeks, they will really are what you expect to see when looking at kitten! They will be coming into their personality. Their teeth should be a full set of kitten teeth and their size should be close to the size of a normal kitten you see at the shelters. This is also the age that they will start to climb! They will be jumping and understanding their bodies more and more.
At eight-weeks-old, they will have their own color eyes instead of the baby blues you may have seen around week three.
Their weight at this age should be between 850-950 grams depending on the kitten and should still continue to gain weight each day. If you notice your kitten is not gaining weight for a few days, make sure you are feeding them enough, and speak to your vet about possible other reasons for delayed weight gain.
At eight weeks, they will be able to keep warm on their own. They may still want to cuddle up with you form extra warms, but the extra heating sources should be long gone!
Feeding a eight-week-old kitten
I talked a lot about feeding a little bit in my articles from two-week-old kittens to five-week-old kittens.
At seven weeks, they should be getting the hang of the slurry and be moving more and more to solid wet food, even dry kitten food. We mentioned ‘slurry’ in their six weeks. It is a combination of formula and wet kitten food. At this point, this should be used only when you notice they are not eating their wet food.
The feeding should still occur every 6 hours but can usually go through the night without having to be fed. YES! You still get to sleep! And as long as they are continuing to grow and eat when they are hungry, the schedule can start to loosen a little.
Addition care information
Kittens at eight weeks old will be will walking confidently on their own and running in their little sprinting fashion. This is really the age in which they start to come into themselves. They really seem like a real cat! This is where I think the fun really begins. You have made it past the scary part! Enjoy the fun part now!
At eight weeks, they should be able to confidently go to the bathroom on their own, and the accidents should minimal to not at all. …The litter box should be small enough for them to walk in and out of, but still enough room for them to move around. You can also start introducing a small litter box into the mix, instead of the small make-shift one you were using during week four and week five.
If you have been reading from five weeks on, you know I have been stressing that newborn kittens should NOT be using clumping litter! You have the fear of them putting it in their mouth and swallowing it. This causes bowel obstructions and can be deadly for kittens.
At eight weeks, I still recommend using non-clumping littler, like this one. You can start to add a mixture of clumping litter, and non-clumping litter. That is also dependent on if you plan on using clumping litter when your kitten is grown up. If you don’t, then you can stick with non-clumping litter.
If you plan to use clumping litter, I would start with a mixture similar to how you did the slurry.
Finally, and maybe the most important is you want them to still have a safe space. At this point, they are probably safer to start roaming around on their own, but you want to make sure you have kitten proofed the house. Loose wires, or things they can chew and eat should be places away from them. They won’t be able to jump high quite yet, so height can always be a safe place for things. For Binx, when she was about 5 weeks old, she was able to climb out of the bin we used for her not too long ago. We started locking her in the bathroom at night so she could roam and be safe, and eventually just let her roam the apartment. At 8 weeks she was pretty much free to roam around after we did the necessary cleaning and kitten-proofing.
We always gave her a little cat bed near my bed that she could sleep in so she felt like part of the family. My best advice is if you have a big home, slowly start to let them roam around small areas on their own until you feel comfortable with them out completely on their own. This probably won’t happen until week 5 or 6. So around week seven, they should be getting more and more comfortable on their own.
The last, and still important thing I want to mention is taking them to the vet. They can get their first round of shots at around 4 weeks. There is also a good chance that your little kitten will have worms. Especially if they were orphaned at a young age. You want to make sure you take them to the vet and get them their needed shots, de-wormer, and anything else they may need medically. If you’ve read Binx’s story, you know that her worms caused a lot of problems for us. So the earlier you can get the de-wormed, the better!
Eight week old kittens are the youngest age kittens can be left from their mothers. If you find one, I would still recommend they stay with their mothers as long as possible to prevent any issues. If you find a kitten, fear not! This is not a scary process. Educate yourself, get the supplies you need, and become the kitty mother of the world!
Remember to have patience throughout this whole process, especially if this is your first time handling orphaned kittens. Everything will come with time and getting frustrated won’t help anyone. The most important things for them right now are warmth, shelter, and food. If they have that and are starting to gain weight as they should then you doing good!
You have made it through all eight weeks of raising a kitten. Relax! The hard part is over! Have some fun and enjoy your little bundle of joy!