PLEASE NOTE: Wild Whiskers Tauranga have now closed our doors to new arrivals.
While we focus on finding homes for those already in care, the charity will continue to provide advice and resources with regard to trapping and/or desexing of true stray and wild cats within Tauranga.

Kitten Care

Setup & Supplies

When you take your kitten/s home, they may be frightened about being caged & transported. Prepare a special, quiet, enclosed area for your kitten/s to help adjust into the home environment.  This may be a bathroom, laundry, small room or crate. 

Supplies you’ll need
The rescue will provide you with any supplies that you may need.  Including but not limited to;

  • Crates
  • Kitty litter trays
  • Kitty litter
  • Bottles
  • Bowls
  • Milk
  • Food
  • Bedding
  • Toys

Kitten proofing your home
Before bringing home a new kitten/s you’ll want to survey the area where they will be staying. Remove anything that would be unsafe or undesirable for the kitten/s to chew on or get into. Kittens like small, dark, enclosed spaces, so ensure there is nowhere they can get under and get stuck.

Here are some additional tips for cat-proofing your home:

  • Move and secure all electrical wires out of reach. 
  • Make sure that all kitten/s cannot get into rubbish.
  • Keep both people and pet food out of reach and off counter tops.
  • Move house plants out of reach. Many house plants are toxic and they like to chew on them.
  • Remove medications, lotions or cosmetics from any accessible surfaces.
  • Relocate knickknacks or valuables that your foster kitten/s could knock down.
  • Avoid couches and/or beds with open bottoms as kittens can get stuck.
  • Dangling strings on blinds or curtains could strangle kittens.

Environmental Enrichment

Environmental enrichment is when you introduce smells, sights, tastes and touch into your kitten/s environment.

Enrichment is important as it improves physical and mental health, reduces stress and abnormal behaviour. It can also be a great way to bond with your kitten/s.

You don’t need to buy expensive toys to enrich your kitten/s lives. Ideas to try at home are;

  • Feathers
  • Leaves
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Paper on string
  • Ping-pong balls
  • Woollen pompoms
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Toilet paper tubes


Never feed your kitten/s anymore than the size of its head.  It is recommended that you feed 4 times a day up to 3 months old, then 3 times a day until 6 months old and 2 times a day from 6 months.  Hand feeding is a great way to build trust with your kitten/s. 

It is important not to give your kitten/s different food straight off, as a sudden change of diet can upset their stomach.  Gradually introduce the diet you prefer by mixing it with what kitten is used to by starting with 1/4 of the new food with 3/4 of the current food for a couple of days, then 1/2 and ½ for a couple of days and so on. 

Kittens can’t digest cow’s milk due to the lactose and this may give them diarrhoea.  At 12 weeks onwards kittens do not need kitten milk in their diet, just water is fine.


It is a good idea to put your kitten/s in the tray after each feed and/or when they wake from sleeping.

The litter box should be located in a place that the kitten/s can access easily but in a quiet, low-traffic spot so that the kitten/s aren’t startled when trying to take care of business.  Cats are clean creatures so ensure the litter tray is away from the feeding area.

You can prevent litter box issues by keeping it as clean as possible. Keep in mind that a kitten may miss the litter box or avoid it completely if it is a medical issue. If your kitten/s have an accident, don’t discipline or punish them. 

If your kitten/s aren’t using the litter tray or are having accidents, try changing the litter to something more natural like dirt or sand.


Develop good habits through the use of positive reinforcement, which builds a bond of trust between you and your kitten/s. You must not punish a kitten for a behaviour that you find undesirable because punishment is ineffective at eliminating the behaviour. If the kitten is doing something undesirable, distract it before the behaviour occurs. It is also important for every person in the home to stick to the rules which will help them to learn faster.

  • Read their body language
  • Slow movements
  • Getting down low
  • Speak softly
  • Slow blinking
  • Confinement – kittens like to hide and love boxes
  • Read to them and have the radio on during the day
  • Get used to touching before picking up
  • Scheduled feeding rather than free feeding (this will help kitten to associate people with food which is all positive)
  • If treating for medical issues feed after treatment
  • Groom & play  


Kittens generally do a good job of masking when they don’t feel well.  

Any of the following symptoms, which could be signs of illness:

  • Eye discharge.

It is normal for kittens to have some discharge from their eyes when they wake up and some may have more than others.  But if your kitten/s have yellow or green discharge or swelling around the eyes or the third eyelid is showing, a vet visit is required.

  • Sneezing and nasal discharge. 

Sneezing can be common in kittens recovering from an upper respiratory infection. If the sneezing becomes more frequent, watch for discharge coming from the nose. If the discharge is coloured or if the kitten starts to breathe with an open mouth or wheeze, they need to see a vet asap. 

  • Loss of appetite. 

Your kitten/s may be stressed after arriving in your home and stress can cause a lack of appetite. However, if a kitten hasn’t eaten and becomes lethargic, they need to see a vet. 

  • Vomiting. 

Sometimes kittens will vomit up a thick tubular hairball with bile or other liquids, this is normal. 

  • Dehydration. 

Dehydration is usually associated with diarrhoea, vomiting and/or loss of appetite. To test for dehydration, gently pinch the kitten’s skin, if the skin stays taut, the kitten is dehydrated and needs to see a vet.

  • Diarrhoea. 

Soft stool is normal for the first few days after taking a kitten home, most likely caused by stress and a change in food. If your kitten continues to have runny poo or has bloody or mucous diarrhoea, please see a vet.

  • Pain or strain while urinating. 

If you notice that a kitten is straining to urinate with little or no results, or crying when urinating, they need to see a vet asap. 

  • Swollen, irritated ears. 

If your kitten/s have irritated, swollen or red or pink ears that smell, it may have an ear infection so need to see a vet.

  • Hair loss. 

It is normal for kittens to have thin fur around the lips, eyelids and in front of the ears.  However, clumpy patches of hair loss or thinning hair can indicate a skin condition. 

  • Flea/Worm treatments

Kittens need to be wormed every 2 weeks until 3 months old.  It then moves to once a month until 6 months old.  And then to every 3 months for life.

There are a number of different flea treatments on the market these days.  Most last 4 weeks but some last longer, it is best to check with your vet if unsure.