There is something special about new life. Whether it’s a baby or a cute little kitten, the freshness and fragility of babies can touch your emotions. However, it’s common knowledge that we should be careful with newborn animals to avoid unintentionally harming them or scaring their mother. But, is it safe to handle newborn kittens?
It’s a good idea to wait until newborn kittens open their eyes before touching them. Touching them too early can scare them and make it more difficult for them to develop proper relationships with humans and other cats. It can also upset their mother, alter their scent, or make the kitten uncomfortable.
Certainly, there are times when you can’t avoid handling newborn kittens. Occasionally, a mother cat may choose an unsafe location for her kittens, or you may have to step in as a surrogate mother for a female cat who lacks maternal instincts or is injured or absent during the newborn stage of her kittens.
No need to stress; we’ll provide all the information you need to ensure the safety of your kittens and help you determine when it’s appropriate to handle newborns and when it’s not.
What Happens If You Touch A Newborn Kitten
Usually, it’s safe to touch a newborn kitten without causing harm or making a big deal out of it, as long as you have a good bond with the mother cat and she’s okay with you handling her kittens.
Typically, it takes a few days for mother cats to allow anyone to approach their kittens willingly. If you touch the kittens too soon, it might scare the mother and cause her to relocate them to another secret spot.
It’s a fact that handling newborn kittens can accidentally hurt them. Newborn kittens are very fragile and cannot withstand rough handling or pressure. Although it is possible to touch a newborn without causing harm, it can be challenging to be gentle enough.
Unless you’re really good with baby cats or there’s an urgent situation, it’s best to not touch them at all. Even if you’re experienced, try to minimize how much you handle newborn kittens.
There’s a good chance that you might not permanently harm or scare the mother cat, but it’s highly likely that you will.
Will A Mother Cat Abandon Her Kittens If You Touch Them
No, luckily, the belief that a mother cat (or most mother animals) will abandon her kittens if you touch them is mostly untrue. However, if you unintentionally harm a kitten, she may not give as much care to that particular kitten in order to increase the chances of survival for the rest of her litter. This behavior might be the origin of the myth about abandonment.
It’s uncommon for a cat mom to leave her kittens just because they were touched. Usually, she moves them to a safe and hidden place to keep them protected.
Do Cats Reject Their Kittens?
It’s very uncommon for cats to refuse their kittens, but it does occur. Rejection is more likely to happen with a cat’s first litter compared to later litters, partly because the mothering instincts may not develop fully during the first litter and pregnancy.
However, the majority of female cats are excellent and caring mothers, even when they have their first litters.
If your cat refuses to care for one or two of her kittens, it could be because she believes she cannot adequately care for all of them or because the rejected kittens were born weak or with indications of poor health. In these situations, it is not so much that she is abandoning the kittens she does not care for, but rather that she is attempting to ensure the well-being of her other kittens and increase their chances of survival.
Fortunately, when a cat mom doesn’t want a kitten, she usually doesn’t mind if you take care of it. This is one of the few times when it’s okay to touch a newborn kitten, especially to feed them and assist with their bathroom needs.
How Can You Tell How Old A Kitten Is
When it comes to newborn kittens, a key way to determine their age is by checking if their eyes are open. Although a kitten’s eyes will open within a few days, they won’t be fully open during the first week. It’s usually by the end of the second week that most cats’ eyes will be open, and their eye color will begin to transition from baby blue to their permanent adult color.
After that, the kittens will grow bigger and more skilled with each passing week until they become quite stable on their paws at around 4-5 weeks of age.
A cat that has stopped nursing from its mother is typically around 8-9 weeks old.
Once a kitten reaches a certain age, their size and coordination become the main factors in determining their age. The bigger and more coordinated they are, the more likely they are to be older.
Can You Touch Newborn Kittens With Gloves
It’s a good idea to wear gloves when you handle newborn kittens because it can help lessen the amount of your smell that gets on the kitten. Gloves also keep the kitten safe from anything that might be on your hands, such as soap or shampoo, leftover food, or cleaning products.
Using a thin glove is preferable to using a thick one. The thinner the glove, the easier it will be to handle the kittens gently.
If you have to wear a thick glove, it’s better to use a padded glove instead of a work glove. The extra padding will keep your kitten safe in case you accidentally apply too much pressure while touching them.
How To Feed Newborn Kittens
If your cat’s mom doesn’t want them, it’s important to make sure your kitten eats and drinks enough. You also have to keep the kitten clean and help them go potty when they’re not eating.
Luckily, when your newborn kitten reaches a few weeks old, they should be capable of drinking from a regular baby bottle filled with kitten formula. If your kitten is too tiny for a bottle, you can give them formula by dripping it into their mouths using a small plastic syringe.
If you don’t have a syringe or dropper to feed your kitten, make sure to reach out to your vet. They can provide you with the necessary supplies or guide you on where to find them quickly.
Just remember, if you’re taking care of a really young newborn kitten, you only have a short amount of time to feed them before it becomes too late. It’s important to avoid giving them cow’s milk or goat’s milk, unless it’s an emergency. And even then, you should dilute any non-cat’s milk you give them to ensure their bodies can handle it.
Don’t ever attempt to give newborn kittens plant milk as it is not a healthy choice for them. The best substitute for nursing newborn kittens of any breed is kitten formula.
Things To Consider
Although it’s important not to touch newborn kittens, especially those under two weeks old, it becomes necessary to touch and interact with them as they grow older. When kittens reach around 3-4 weeks of age, it becomes crucial to handle them in order to teach them how to socialize with humans.
If you don’t socialize kittens between 3-4 weeks old, it can be difficult to make them good pets. Instead, these kittens may be better suited for working or living in a barn without any human interaction.