Caring for Kittens 5 to 7 Weeks Old

Homeless kittens should be taken from their mother between the ages of 4-8 weeks (5-6 weeks is ideal).  If they are handled frequently by humans at this age, they will become social enough to become wonderful pets. 

Four-week old kittens will still need to be bottle-fed although some may start eating canned kitten food mixed with a little kitten milk replacer (see instructions for bottle feeding) .   Most 5 week-olds can eat canned kitten food and usually they start on dry kitten food at 6 weeks.      

If you are unable to adopt the kitten yourself, check various shelters, veterinarians and the PANT Network to see if someone can take the kitten.  Insist that your kittens be placed on a waiting list and check back frequently.  If rescues are full and you have been placed on a waiting list, take the kitten into your home keeping it separate from your other cats.   


While waiting for the shelter to have room for your kittens you should:

  • Provide proper nourishment.  Kittens 5 weeks old can be started on wet kitten food – sometimes adding a kitten replacer (available at feed/pet stores and veterinarians offices) to the wet food can help a kitten who is a little undernourished.  Kittens 6 weeks and older can eat wet or dry kitten food.  Kitten formula foods are much more nutritious for your kitten.
  • Handle the kitten often. This is CRITICAL.   There is a small window of opportunity to make your kitten a social, wonderful pet.  Pick the kitten up several times a day, play with him/her, and hand feed the kitten often.  Spend as much time with the kitten as you possibly can.  Provide the kitten with a litter box.   At the age of 4-6 weeks he should be using a litter box.
  • Bring a fecal sample to your vet and get worming medicines if needed.
  • Check for fleas.  Be careful about what you use as some flea treatments are toxic to young kittens.  Use a flea comb.  Or you can put your kitten over a sheet of white paper and comb the kitten.  If you see little black specks with a red tinge, your kitten probably has fleas.   Your veterinarian can prescribe (usually without requiring a visit) a safe flea treatment for your kitten.
  • At 8 weeks, if the kitten is still on a waiting list at a shelter or waiting for a home and you have other cats in your household, you may want to have the kitten tested for Feline Leukemia, FIV, and parasites.  This is best done at your veterinarian’s or it can also be done at Petco.   Assuming the kitten is negative, you can mix the kitten with your household cats, if necessary.