For the first few weeks of their lives, kittens are at their most helpless and need a lot of feeding and attention. The mother will provide for all their needs up to the age of about 3 weeks when they start to explore and become more independent. It is then up to you to wean the kittens off the mother's milk and introduce them to solid food. This will then involve litter training.
By the age of 10 to 12 weeks the kittens should be fully weaned and ready to leave their mother. Be wary of buying a kitten at 6 weeks old as they are just not ready to leave their mother. They may look cute and irresistible but they are still young and should be left with their mother for as long as possible. Professional breeders will never allow you to take a kitten until it is at least 12 weeks old.
Here is what to expect from your kitten each week:
The kitten is blind and deaf and completely dependent on the mother.
The kitten's eyes open after 7 - 10 days. The young sleep huddled up together to keep warm.
The kittens are now fully mobile and eager to explore. They are now ready to be given a little solid food (powdered cat milk substitute, finely chopped cooked meat or canned kitten food). Make sure you buy kitten food and not cat food as it contains much smaller pieces of meat and extra vitamins etc.
Once the kittens are eating solids, they can be trained to use a litter tray.
Feed the kittens a range of different foods to encourage good eating habits later in life. Finely minced cooked meat and poached white fish can be given to add a little variety to the diet to canned kitten food.
The kittens learn how to hunt by pouncing on toy prey. Provide them with a variety of things to play with such as balls & fake mice and any toys that can be bought in your local pet store.
Regular weighing and monitoring of the kittens' weights will allow you to keep an eye on their development.
The kitten should be vaccinated against Feline respiratory disease and Feline Infectious Enteritis. A kitten should not be allowed outside until it has received these vaccinations.