If you find out that your cat is pregnant, it can be a very exciting time. After all, a litter of kittens is a litter full of new pets for loving families who are looking to adopt their own furry friends – or perhaps several beautiful new additions to your own family!
However, it can also make you feel fairly nervous, too. There’s plenty of things to consider when preparing for the birth of kittens, so it’s important to know what to expect when your cat is expecting.
To make things a little easier, here are our tips for taking care of your cat before she gives birth to her kittens and how to take care of her and her new babies afterwards.
While Your Cat Is Pregnant
If you suspect that your cat is pregnant, it’s important to take her straight to the vet to have this confirmed. Once you’ve got the news that your cat is expecting kittens, you’ll have to be prepared to make some changes!
First of all, you may have to look at the way your cat eats. After all, if a pregnant woman is eating for two, a pregnant cat could be eating for six, seven or even eight! Your vet will more than likely recommend some changes to your cat’s dietary plan, often recommending that she eats smaller meals, but more often throughout the day.
The reason behind this is that your cat will need extra nutrients in order to keep herself and the kittens strong, but won’t have the same room in her stomach that she would do usually. With this in mind, smaller amounts of food given more frequently than usual will allow her to keep her energy up without over-feeding her.
Your vet might also recommend switching to kitten food for a while, as the nutrients in kitten food will be better for the unborn kittens than adult cat food. Additionally, it’s essential that you keep your cat hydrated throughout the day, so be sure to keep out bowls of water in more areas of your home – not just in the kitchen, but possibly in the bedroom, bathroom and in the garden for when your cat is outside, too.
Make sure that you’re keeping a close eye on your cat’s appetite and her activity levels while she is pregnant. Try not to worry too much if you notice slight changes in her behaviour, as this may be normal – however, if she begins to take no interest in her food or appears far more sluggish than usual, especially during the early stages of pregnancy, it’s best to visit the vet.
Preparing For Your Cat To Give Birth
As the time for your cat to give birth gets closer, provide your cat with a ‘nest’ – essentially just a cardboard box that is wide enough for her and her kittens to be comfortable in, but tall enough that her kittens will not be able to jump out of it if they try. Line the box with plenty of blankets or soft towels and keep the box in a warm place to keep it as cosy as possible!
Start introducing your cat to the box in later stages of her pregnancy so that she knows where to go when the time comes – it’s best placed in a location that is familiar to her but is not in an area of the house where she’ll have no privacy.
When your cat goes into labour, she will most likely need no intervention at all – she certainly won’t want to be touched. The best thing to do is to give her the privacy to give birth on her own, but ensure that you are able to check up on her regularly.
Keep in mind that she may choose not to give birth in the box that you gave her, though you can still move the newborns into the box if this is the case. Be careful when handling them, of course, but don’t worry that this will injure the kittens or lead your cat to abandon them – this is very rare.
Caring For Your Cat And The Newborn Kittens After Birth
Once your cat has given birth, aim to arrange a check-up at the vets for your cat and her kittens within the first couple of days to ensure that everything is fine!
You more than likely won’t have to do a great deal to take care of the kittens during the first few weeks of their life, as the mother cat’s milk will provide all of the nutrients that they need and they will learn to socialise amongst the rest of the litter. Your primary concern is simply to ensure they keep warm and keep an eye on whether or not your cat is able to provide enough milk for the all the kittens – if this isn’t the case, you may have to feed them yourself.
Once the kittens are around three to four weeks old, it’s time to start introducing them to a milk replacement such as kitten formula, before gradually introducing them to a solid diet – made up of wet kitten food – after the first couple of months.
Try to touch the kittens as little as possible within the first two weeks of their lives, eventually beginning to socialise them for the care of a new family within the first two to seven weeks by gradually introducing them to humans.
Your kittens shouldn’t be separated from the mother cat for at least eight weeks. After this time, schedule an appointment with your vet to check on their development and let you know whether or not they are able to be rehomed.
Once the vet has given you the all-clear, you can begin looking for a loving family for your new baby kittens – and you can go back to spoiling and pampering your beloved cat after all her hard work!