The time has come — the cat that you adore has given birth to a litter of kittens. You’ve been anticipating this moment over the last two months, and now they’re here, all of them! What happens now, and how do you care for the new mother and her new litter?
The Vet Set loves tiny, new kittens! We’re here to support you and your cat in prenatal and postnatal care. Take a moment in your day and learn more about how to keep everyone happy and healthy in this new transition!
After a cat gives birth, like humans, it is a new and fragile stage for them, so it’s vital for you to do what’s best and not interfere too much to the natural rhythm of nature. With too much obstruction, it can actually be more harmful to your cat and her litter, even when you mean well.
It’s a warm-up period, she’s a new mom, and needs some help but also some space!
After the kittens come, it’s important to quarantine them in a separate space that is calm, quiet and warm. One of the biggest health concerns when it comes to newborn kittens is chilling, so ensure there is enough warmth to keep them safe. You may even consider investing in a portable heater to better heat a room, or heated pad that they can lay on.
Help keep the family together by keeping them in a box or contained area that the momma cat can enter and exit with ease. Line it with towels or disposable liners and change them frequently to keep the area clean and stink-free!
It’s important that the new mom has all of her necessities nearby and this includes the litterbox, food, and water.
The first two to three weeks after birth are critical for both the kittens and the mother. Postpartum concerns to look for are eclampsia (blood calcium deficiency). The mothers often present symptoms that include:
Also in this time, the kittens will grow quite quickly and the mother will display any adverse postpartum symptoms.
Week one: The kitten is quite small and typically fits in the palm of hands.
Week two: The kittens begin to open their eyes.
Week three: The teeth begin to develop and their eyes may change color.
Kittens are subject to a variety of health concerns that include infectious diseases (respiratory infections), parasites, and congenital diseases. One of the most heart-wrenching but common health concerns in kittens is known as Fading Kitten Syndrome (FKS). While there may be many causes, the end result is the inability of the kitten to thrive. Signs of FKS including sleeping more than the litter and lethargy.
New kittens are so cute and cuddly and we know that you just want to hold them and be near them all the time — especially if you have kids — but let the new mother set the tone. If you’ve had her for a while, she may know and trust you and allow you near her litter right away, but if she was fostered or rescued, it may be a minute before she lets you in.
Just keep an eye on their progress and ensure that they’re moving about, nursing, and thriving. If they are, just look to mom for your next move and watch her body language.
After birth, it’s important to continue to feed your cat high-quality cat food, both wet and dry food are fine. Because nursing takes a toll on their bodies, they require more protein. Your cat will not only need more protein, but they will also need to eat more, often doubling their food consumption while nursing. The more food she eats, the more milk she’ll be able to produce for her new kittens.
These eating patterns will need to continue throughout the duration of nursing, in which kittens are typically weaned anywhere from eight to 10 weeks old.
Water is also a non-negotiable after birth — they require much more of it to better produce milk. Ensure that your cat always has clean, fresh water available. As far as feeding, you may want to adopt a “free choice” style of feeding where you leave a bowl full of food and they can come and go as they need and when they need.
A new litter is exciting to be around but it’s important you take the right steps and respect the new mom, so everyone can thrive and adapt to the new life.
If you have additional questions about the post-natal cat and kitten care or need a vet well-check, schedule an appointment at our Carrol Gardens vet clinic today.