You are probably looking forward to the moment when your cat gives birth to kittens. However, caring for newborn kittens and a cat mom can be more difficult than it sounds. If you’re not sure what to expect, find out what kind of care newborn kittens need and how to care for them as they grow up.
Caring for newborn kittens
1-Be prepared for problems during labor
Monitor your cat during labor, but do not disturb her. During childbirth, natural instinct comes into play, and your cat will most likely not need your help. It is better to observe the animal from the side and make sure everything is in order. However, you will need to intervene if following problems take place:
-The newborn kittens remained in the fetal bladder. Usually kittens are born in fetal bladders, which the mother cat tears with her tongue. If the cat doesn’t, or refuses to have the kitten altogether, you will need to take a soft towel and gently remove the bubble. If you are not sure if this is worth doing, give your cat time to take care of the kitten, otherwise she may refuse it.
-The cat pushes hard for more than 20 minutes. This is a sign of a problem with the passage of the fetus. Check to see if the kitten’s head comes out. If it seems, grab a soft, clean towel by the head and gently pull the kitten forward and push back. If the kitten doesn’t come out, call your vet. If the kitten’s head isn’t showing up, call your vet.
-The newborn kittens did not start eating within an hour after birth. Most kittens start drinking their mother’s milk within 1–2 hours of birth. If the kitten is not eating, attach it to the cat’s nipples to help it smell the milk. If in half an hour the newborn kitten does not start eating, slightly open its mouth and attach it to the nipple. If that doesn’t work, you may need to pipette the kitten.
2-Help the cat settle in the box after giving birth
Since the cat will be caring for the newborn kittens in the first few weeks of life, you will need to arrange a comfortable place for her. Most likely, the cat will choose its own place. Place a box of clean and dry blankets for the cat in an area warm enough to wear a vest. The place must be calm so that people do not walk past the box, otherwise the cat will not feel safe.
It is important that the room temperature is comfortable. If the room is hot, the cat will be nervous, and if it is cold, the kittens may be hypothermic. Newborn kittens are defenseless; they are kept warm by the body heat of the mother-cat.
3-Feed your cat a hearty meal
After giving birth, the cat will eat twice as much as usual, so she needs to eat well. In addition to satisfying food, feed your cat vitamins and minerals. It is best to offer kitten food to your cat because it is higher in calories and contains additional vitamins and minerals. Do not give milk to your cat, as it can cause diarrhea. Place food and feed near the nest so that the cat does not have to leave the kittens for a long time. There should also be a tray near the nest.
Kittens are born deaf and blind. But they can smell, so they can find the source of mom’s milk.
4-Prepare kitten food
There are several ways to wean kittens from a cat, but the easiest way is to let things take their course. Kittens will begin to give up milk on their own at 4 weeks of age. Offer the kittens dry food. At first they will be just interested to see what it is, but when they start spending a lot of energy, they will eat it. It’s easier to start with wet food.
The cat itself will wean the kittens and will feed them less and less often. So the kittens will begin to switch to ready-made food.
5-Set up a kitten tray
When the kittens grow up, they will stop lying all the time and start moving, exploring the space and playing. You will need to supply them with a large tray with low sides. Show the kittens where to go to the toilet. Try showing your cat that she can go to the kitten litter box so the kittens know where to go to the toilet.
Do not use lumpy filler. If the kitten swallows particles of this litter, they will clump together in the intestine and block the lumen.
6-Create a safe environment for your kittens
Protect them from deep containers of water; remove threads, wires, ribbons and small toys. This way the kittens won’t suffocate or drown. Be careful where you put hot drinks, because kittens can knock them over and get burned during play. Don’t give kittens food from the table – it is bad for their stomachs.
Be aware of how other animals in the house behave with kittens, especially dogs.
Block tight spots where kittens can climb and get stuck.
Enter the room where the kittens live carefully. Cats love to climb into different places and can behave unpredictably. You may accidentally trip or step on the kitten.
7-Decide when you will be looking for a new home for the kittens
If you decide to add kittens, start looking for new owners for them when they are 8 weeks old. Sometimes it is advised to give kittens at 12 weeks, but by this time the socialization process is over, and it will be more difficult for kittens to get used to a new home. It is best to house kittens between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks.
By this time, the kittens will have time to spend a lot of time with their mother and will be ready to move to a new home.
8-Check your cat and kittens for fleas
Examine the fur and skin of the animals. Comb the cat and kittens and remove the hair from the brush with a white paper towel. There may be red spots (dried blood) and flea discharge. If your cat or kittens have fleas, ask your veterinarian for advice on a flea remedy that works for the kittens. Treat the skin of the mom-cat, wait until the product is completely dry, and return it to the kittens.
If the veterinarian determines that the kittens have contracted the worms from their mother, the kittens will need to be given a liquid medicine by syringe (such as fenbendazole). It can be given to kittens at least 3 weeks old. Repeat every 2-3 weeks.
9-Get your kittens vaccinated
Vaccinations can be done no earlier than 9 weeks. Ask your veterinarian what vaccinations you need to get. Your doctor will recommend vaccinations against infections and rabies. In some countries, veterinarians advise vaccinating kittens against feline leukemia if cats go outside, as the disease is transmitted through contact with other cats.
Even if the kitten lives in the house, it should still be vaccinated. Your doctor can help you find vaccines.
10-Socialize your kittens
When the kittens are 3-4 weeks old and they will not be near their mother all the time, start inviting friends over to play with the kittens. Keep track of the process so that the kittens are not afraid (this can be harmful to their development). Kittens should be introduced to different people up to 12 weeks old so that they get used to different smells and sounds. After 12 weeks, it will become more difficult for kittens to tolerate new situations calmly.
If kittens are socialized at an early age, they will not be afraid of people and can quickly get used to new things, which will be useful in adulthood.
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