Kitten Weight

Three British Shorthair kittens Suckle Their Mother's Breast
Charming color chart of British SH kittens. Photo in the public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Kitten weight gain is important. Healthy domestic kittens weigh in the order of 110 – 125 grams at birth on average. This weight should double in 7 – 9 days. At five weeks of age the weight should be in the region of one pound (0.45 kg). At ten weeks of age kitten weight is about two pounds (0.91 kg).

As kitten weight gain on a regular basis is an important measure of health, a kitten should be weighed at birth, thereafter daily during the first two weeks of its life and after that every three days up to one month of age. I am presuming that most people who read this article will be those who are raising kittens by hand. Under these circumstances it is essential to keep accurate records at all times of feeding and weight gain. My reference book2 tells me that kittens should be weighed on a gram scale at birth and at eight-hour intervals for four days, daily for the next three weeks and then every three days until they reach one month of age. Whenever possible kitten should nurse for the first two days of their lives.

Inadequate milk supply from the mother will probably result in inadequate weight gain in the kitten and the reason might be inadequate supply of calories getting to the mother. An inadequate supply of milk to the kitten is the biggest cause of death in kittens, apparently.

Nursing mothers (queens) need two to three times the usual amount of food of a cat that is not nursing. The mother’s diet needs to be balanced. She can be feed an unlimited amount. Dry cat food should be readily available and wet food provided three or more times daily.

The experts say that vitamin and mineral supplements should be avoided. This page discusses calorie input per day of domestic cats.

If a kitten gains steady weight during the first seven days there is no danger in respect of weight gain. At the other end of the spectrum kittens that lose at least 10% of their weight in the first 48 hours of life and do not put it on within 3 days are in danger, having, ‘poor survival prospects’ and they require supplemental feeding.

Other reasons for a failure for kittens to fail to gain weight are, toxic milk and acute metritis (inflammation of the uterus1 mostly caused by a bacterial infection5).

Formula requirement for kittens.
Formula requirement for kittens. Source as per the chart.
What should kittens weight at birth?
What should kittens weight at birth?

Kittens can be poisoned by their mother’s milk, strange that is seems. The main reason for toxic milk is a breast infection or abscess. Metritis can also cause it. If hand feeding the kitten formula may have become contaminated. Toxic milk syndrome affects kittens at age 1 – 2 weeks of age. They cry and are distressed. They have diarrhea and are bloated. The anus is frequently red and swollen. Obviously urgent treatment is required. See a vet.

I don’t know how common this is but there is a condition called neonatal erythrolysis. This condition is found in a number of purebred cats (and I presume random bred cats). This is the destruction of red blood cells in newborn kitten due to the difference in blood type between the kitten and mother. Breeds susceptible are: British Shorthair, Persian, Himalayan, Somali, Abyssinian, Scottish Fold, Japanese Bobtail, Birman, Devon Rex and Cornish Rex. The worst affected are those in bold.

Neonatal erythrolysis occurs sometimes when the kitten has blood type A and the mother has blood type B. The antibodies in the mother’s colostrum (milk) can destroy the kitten’s blood cells. These kittens are sluggish within hours or days and become weak and die. The classic symptom is ‘pigmented urine’. Blood typing breeding cats avoids the condition3.

Kitten weight gain is vital - photo by {B E A U T I F U L} LEMONS

Kitten weight gain is vital – photo by {B E A U T I F U L} LEMONS



2. Source other than stated: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Dr Carslon and Giffin (highly recommended).

3. Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats edited by Ross D Clark DVM

4. Photo on Flickr


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Kitten Weight

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Feb 13, 2011Update
by: Michael

See also: Kitten Growth Chart

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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