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
I want this to be a complete guide for caring for a kitten week by week. If you find a kitten, 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 4 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. So, if you have read that article, that means that you are now caring for a four-week-old kitten. Or, you have just found a kitten are thinking it is about three, maybe four weeks, though we will mention how to be sure in a little.
Four-week-old kittens still need you to bottle feed them, on occasions help stimulate them to go to the bathroom, litter box train them, and make sure they are still gaining weight they need to.
How to Tell a Kitten is 4 weeks olds
First, let’s talk about how to tell if a kitten is four weeks old. A four-week-old kitten will have their eyes open. Their eye sight will be getting better each day and their hearing will be almost a normal cat’s hearing level. Their personalities will be really starting to shine at four weeks and the blues of their eyes will really start to shine through. Their ears are turning outwards more than at two weeks.
One fun fact about kittens is that they will all start out with baby blue eyes! As they get older, their eyes will change into their true colors. Kittens will also be started to get some teeth at four weeks and their claws will still not retract.
Their weight at this age should be between 450-550 grams depending on the kitten and should 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 four 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. So watch your kitten, if they seem chilly, maybe add a warm article of clothing in there. But this is one very obvious step that you are moving toward a less time-intensive pet!
Feeding a four-week-old kitten
I talked about feeding a little bit in my article about two-week-old kittens and three-week-old kittens. So if you have read that and are continuing on with the four-week-mark, this will be some similar information. If you found your cat at about four weeks, buckle up buttercup and let’s talk feeding.
Ive said it before and I will say it again, this is probably one of the most important things to understand when caring for an orphaned kitten and what a lot of people tend to have issues on. You will probably have guessed that a newborn kitten will need to be bottle-fed. And you are correct. Kittens need to be bottle-fed until anywhere from 6-8 weeks.
You do not want to try to ween the kittens off the bottle before they are ready. Some people think you can start weening them at four weeks, but I would recommend giving them an extra week on the bottle before you start trying to ween them. I usually recommend that people continue to bottle feed until they almost become ‘bottle aggressive’, which I will mention more in my ‘bottle weening’ post. But for now, bottle-feed and let them get nice and strong a little while longer!
When will they be ready? Like it said before, not yet. But trust me, you will know when they are getting ready to start weening. It will be obvious and persistence.
For now, you need to get used to actually feeding the kittens. A four-week-old kitten needs to be fed at least 18-20 MLS of formula and water combination every 5-6 hours, but can usually go through the night without having to be fed. YES! If you have been caring for your kitten since week one or two, then you are fairly sleep deprived. Guess what?! You can sleep through the night now! Well, as long as the kitten lets you. But feeding wise, they can usually go through the night without feeding so long as they are fed right before bed and right when you wake up in the morning.
Again, these kittens still require formula in their feedings. (Pst! Two-Week-Kitten and Three-Week-Old Kitten readers, this section is pretty much the same for you. Just keep doing what you’re doing!) New readers,this formula can be bought either at a pet store, or on Amazon. You want to make sure it is a kitten formula for newborns to 4 weeks. Giving the kitten the wrong formula could be disastrous for them.
When feeding a kitten, you want to read the instructions on the formula to determine the proportions of water to formula to get the minimum amount that the kitten needs. Notice I say the minimum, but I will touch on that more later. You should never heat up the formula itself. Instead, heat up water, either on the stove or however else you choose to do so. Measure out the water and add the corresponding formula amount to the warmed water.
From there, the formula mixture can be placed in a bottle. Again, you can get a bottle either at a pet store or on Amazon if you do not want to leave your little one alone for too long. It is also important that you test out the heat of the formula mixture before giving it to them. You don’t want to be giving them a formula mixture that is too hot or too cold. Usually, it is recommended to do a similar test as you would a baby. Testing the heat out on your wrist.
From there you are ready to start bottle feeding.
Bottle Feeding a 4 Week Old 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 four weeks old will be will walking better than they were at three weeks, their eyes will be clearer, and they will starting to really MOVE!. They will not be fast by any means, but they will start to get into a little rhythm when they walk as they are starting to get the hang of this whole moving thing. Not to mention it is so cute to watch them ‘book’ it.
At four weeks, they should really no longer need to be stimulated anymore. They should be able to go to the bathroom on their own, though sometimes they won’t have complete control over it. If you have not already, you should start to introduce a litter box.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 4 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 four-week-old kitten, try your best to find 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 FIVE!!! WHAT!!!. Are you guys ready for that one?!