If you have been around my blog then you know that I have recently rescued and fostered an orphaned kitten. We estimate that we got her around three weeks and had a big awakening throughout the process.
I wanted to walk you through the information that I gathered for each of the different weeks of a new kittens life. If you started from the beginning, they you know we have come a long way. Your kitten development skills have grown from two week old kittens through now five week old kittens. Your friends better look out!
I want this to be a complete guide for caring for a kitten week by week. If you find a kitten, as always, you want to try your hardest to keep with them with their mothers. Their mothers will be able to nurse them, keep them warm, and protect them. Mothers know how to care for their babies so if they can be left with their mothers, they should for at least 8 weeks.
Orphaned 5 Week Old Kittens
If you find a kitten who has no mother nearby, then you have just found an orphaned kitten. This kitten now needs you to be their mother. They will need to be fed, kept warm, and protected by you, the human. . We have already talked about caring for a two-week-old kitten, and three-week-old kittens, maybe even four-week-old kittens.
So, if you have read that article, that means that you are now caring for a FIVE-week-old kitten. FIVE GUYS! You have survived at least 5 weeks with your kitten! That’s longer than a month!
Or, you have just found a kitten are thinking it is about four, maybe five weeks, though we will mention how to be sure in a little. Five-week-old kittens are at that wonderful age where they can start to show desires to start weening. It is still important that until they are completely on wet food, they still need you to bottle feed them. They should be getting the hang of litter box training , and continuing to gain weight as they grow.
How to Tell a Kitten is 5 weeks old
First, let’s talk about how to tell if a kitten is five weeks old. At five weeks, they will really start looking like a kitten! They will be socializing more, and really coming into their unique personality. Kittens at five weeks old will start to show interest in toys! They will try to take down the toy as prey, and even groom the toy if it is something they cherish.
At this time, it is also really good to be teaching them grooming skills if they are orphaned. The best way to do this is with a toothbrush, because that feels the closest to that of their mother’s tongue. You may notice as you start doing this that they start grooming their toys more often as a form of imitation
At this age, kittens will still have their baby blue eyes! It will still be a few weeks until they eyes start to change into their true color. Theirs claws will still not retract, though you will start to notice the skin growing around the paws in preparation for the ‘retraction’.
Their weight at this age should be between 550-650 grams depending on the kitten and should still continue to steadily 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 five 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 that we talking about on week 2 and 3 are no longer necessary. Guys! We are moving into an easy cat phase! How excited are you?!
Feeding a five-week-old kitten
I talked about feeding a little bit in my article about two-week-old kittens and three-week-old kittens even four-week-old kitten. This one starts to get a little different. You may notice your kitten getting frustrated with the bottle at the time and can start to make a ‘slurry’.
I will talk more about slurries in my weening post. But in short, it is a combination of wet kitten food and formula.
If you notice your kitten started to get frustrated, try adding the slurry in. That may help your kitten be a little less grumpy.
With that being said, you will still want to supplement anything that your kitten does not eat in a slurry. This should still be done with a bottle the same way that was mentioned in all the previous weeks. This part can be a little frustrating for them to start to figure out the wet food process, but just remember, you are one step closer to an easy, typical cat
The feeding should still occur every 5-6 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.
From there, I will give you a quick refreshed on bottle feeding.
Bottle Feeding a Kitten
Two and three-week-old kitten readers, again this will be along the same lines for right now. Hopefully you know how to bottle-feed at this point, but if you just want a refresher, listen in. Everyone else, do you know how to bottle feed a kitten? This is by far the hardest part of caring for an orphaned kitten. At four weeks they are able to suckle a bottle on their own. In the previous section, I talked about how to prepare the bottle.
One call out that I do want to add is this. I know there are certain amounts they say your kitten needs every few hours. If they are a small underweight orphaned cat, use those guidelines as minimums. If they are willing to eat more, let them. When I fostered my kitten, we would make double the sizing needed and make sure she ate at least half. Most of the time, she actually ate it all!
She was hungry and needed all those nutrients from the formula. She was so underweight that it took us a while to figure out that she needed to be gaining much faster than she was. Learn that lesson from us, you can’t really over-feed a kitten when they are wanting the bottle.
So if your kitten suckles down that entire bottle, give her more. Don’t make her starve until the next 4+ hours. Especially if they are underweight and need to gain quickly. Or if they have not been gaining weight as they should.
Now, back to bottle feeding. I promise I will write and entire article on how to bottle feed a kitten but the most simple way to do it is to place them on the ground. Gently, but firmly, hold their heads up with their feed on the ground and let them find the bottle.
This will be clunky at first. I know some people will wrap the kittens in a towel to prevent them from trying to rip the bottle from you. Some will have troubles finding the bottle. Be patient. This first few times feeding them will be the hardest. Once you get into a swing of things in will get better.
You also want to make sure the bottle is tilted upside and upside enough that they can get the liquid inside. When we were feeding Binx, this was one thing I struggled with the most. I would get the bottle into her mouth but she would get so mad at me. I found out that was because she wasn’t actually even getting the formula until I tipped it nearly upside down.
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to bottle feeding is to just be patient. Understand that they first 5-10 times doing it will be frustrating. You are not alone on this. When I was first learning this, I remember sitting in my bedroom just crying. It was so out of my comfort zone. And I LOVE animals.
Addition care information
Kittens at five 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.
At five weeks, they should be able to go to the bathroom on their own, and the accidents should be happening less and less…The litter box should be small enough for them to walk in and out of, but still enough room for them to move around. For Binx, we used the box that the canned cat food comes is. This was small enough that our other cats didn’t have a desire to use it, but big enough for her to feel like it was her little litter box.
Another IMPORTANT! IMPORTANT! thing you should know about the litter box is that kittens cannot use clumping litter at this point. Kittens are like babies where they want to put nearly everything in their mouth. If your kitten eats clumping litter, it could cause bowel obstructions and serious harms to your already sensitive kitten. You want to get a non-clumping litter, like this one that I use. You will want to change this out a little more often than clumping litter to keep if clean, but I think your kitten’s health is worth it.
As I mentioned before, they could still have accidents. They no longer need to be stimulated anymore unless you notice that they have not gone to the bathroom. But you should not be intentionally stimulating them after eating anymore. Let them let their body do what it needs to do.
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.
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.
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!
If you find a five-week-old kitten, they still need to be kept with the mother. Kittens this young desperately need their mother to help them get big and strong.
However, if no mother is found, that is not a death sentence to your kitty. 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! And that means in a few days you will move onto week SIX!!! WHAT!!!. Are you guys ready for that one?!