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The First Two Weeks:

  • In the first 1 to 2 days, the kittens receive colostrum from their mother, which gives them their initial immunity.
  • After that time, they feed on their mother's normal, rich, milk.
  • Kittens have to find their food even though their eyes are shut for the first 5 - 10 days, and the fact that they cannot walk.
  • They find their mother's teats through their sense of smell, touch, and by sensing warmth, and they can squirm around to reach the teats.
  • The mother helps them by rolling on her side and nuzzling them in the right direction.
  • Kittens have a preference for a teat.
  • When they nurse, their paws open and close as they "knead". The mother cat also rhythmically opens and closes her paws while the kittens suckle.
  • The kittens squeak to let their mother know they are hungry.
  • They will feed for very long sessions.
  • Kittens at this age do not like to be cold, so they stay in a huddle with their litter mates.

Source: Understanding Cats -- Their History, Nature and Behavior, by Roger Tabor, The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY, 1995, pp. 77-78.