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 2 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. Two-week-old kittens need you to bottle feed them, stimulate them to go to the bathroom and make sure they are gaining weight they need to.
How to Tell if a Kitten is 2 weeks olds
First, let’s talk about how to tell if a kitten is two weeks old. A two-week-old kitten will have their eyes open and their hearing is getting better each day. They respond better to sounds, though their sight is still not the best. Their ears are starting to point outwards but still are mostly turned inwards.
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 have no teeth at two weeks and their claws with not retract.
Their weight at this age should be between 250-350 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 two weeks, they still require some form of heat source as they cannot create heat on their own. I know some people will place a heating pad under a blanket to help keep the kittens warms, and some will use heat lamps. The biggest thing with this to call out is that they need a spot to keep warm, but also areas that aren’t directly in the line of heat in case they get too hot. You want the kittens to be comfortable so providing them both heat, and indirect heat is always recommended at this age.
Feeding a two-week-old kitten
Let’s talk feeding. 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.
When will they be ready? Well definitely not at the two-week mark, but I will start to mention that in the other weeks of care.
For now, you need to get used to actually feeding the kittens. A two-week-old kitten needs to be fed at least 10-14 MLS of formula and water combination every 3-4 hours, even at night. Yes, I know the idea of waking up every 3-4 hours to feed the kitten sounds exhausting but it is what they need in order to get the nutrients to grow.
As I mentioned earlier, kittens require formula in their feedings. This formula can be bought 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 2 Week Old Kitten
This is by far the hardest part of caring for an orphaned kitten. At two weeks they may need either a syringe or be 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 hour. 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.
So if your kitten suckles down that entire bottle, give her more. Don’t make her starve until the next 3-4 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 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.
Additional care information
Kittens at two weeks old will start to try and take their first few steps. It will be wobbly and uncoordinated. So do not fear if you see a kitten that looks about two weeks struggling to walk. They are just learning and will be quite wobbly for some time.
They will not be able to use the litter box on their own yet at this age so you want to stimulate them to go to the bathroom both with poop and pee. You want to use a damp cloth to prevent their little bottoms from getting raw.
If for some reason their bottoms do start to get raw, you can you a little bit of diaper rash cream on their bottoms, you just want to watch and make sure they don’t try and lick it off.
Finally, and maybe the most important is you want them to have a safe space. Often people that have multiple kittens will keep them in a room to themselves, or a large bin. You want the space to be large enough to where they can move around if they get warm, but not so big that they can’t get to the heat when they want it. And depending on how many orphaned kittens you have, the size may vary. When we had a Binx, we used a bin similar to this. She was already about 3 weeks old, so she was moving around, but we still wanted to keep her safe and warm while we were sleeping.
If you find a two-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 three. Are you guys ready for that one?!