How to save & take care of a kitten and feral cats - an advocacy tool kit

How Old Is That Kitten? Kitten Guide: Five Weeks

| Kittens / "Leave Them Be"

Characteristics

Weight: 525-550 grams/18.5-19.5 ounces
Teeth: Premolars coming in
Eyes: Blue
Ears: Fully upright

Behavior

Five weeks old is when the fun really begins! Kittens are extremely playful at this age, especially now that their eyesight is fully developed and their coordination is better. Kittens can now retract their claws at will and you can see them develop their own distinct personalities.

As they near six weeks old, kittens will become completely stable on their feet, using their tails to balance. They’ll start stalking, hiding, pouncing, and digginginstinctual behaviors in all cats whether they grow up indoors or outdoors.

Care

Feeding:

Kittens should now be weaned and eating wet food mixed with baby cat kibble. Provide them with kibble and a dish of water at all times.

In addition, feed the kittens half a small can of wet food per kitten in a dish, two or three times a day. If needed, supplement with kitten formula.

If still transitioning kittens from formula to solid food, it is important to feed them a mix of both so that they don’t have digestive issues due a sudden change in diet. Gradually decrease the amount of food they were eating (formula) while increasing what they will be eating (solid food) over the course of seven days.

For more information, visit Caring for Neonatal Kittens.

Feeding frequency:

Two or three times a day.

Bedding:

Kittens can regulate their own temperature now, but you should still provide a cozy nest they can go to as needed.

Bathroom habits:

Kittens should use the litter box at this age. Provide them with a small, shallow litter pan with non-clumping litter. Show kittens the litter box, and they should quickly start using it out of instinct.

For more about litter box training, visit Caring for Neonatal Kittens.

Socialization

Socializing kittens becomes more important as they get older so they have the skills to thrive in their homes when they are adopted. Without proper and early socialization, kittens will not become socialized to people and will not be adoptable.

Food:

Food is a great tool to socialize kittens. When you feed the kittens, stay in the room so they associate you with food and start to trust you. Over time, move the food plate closer to your body while you sit in the room, until the plate is in your lap and the kittens are comfortable crawling on you to get to it.

Pet the kittens while they’re eating so they stay put and build up to holding the kittens, rewarding them with some canned cat food. Don’t allow the kittens to play with your hand or bite or scratch youit will teach kittens that biting is okay.

Playing:

Playing is an important part of kitten socialization because it helps them bond with each other and build confidence around people. Play with kittens for at least two hours a day (all together or broken up). Take time to socialize each of the kittens in a litter individually. At this age, kittens will love to play with toys and you should encourage that!

For more about socializing kittens, visit alleycat.org/Socialization.