Note: This article is for those who were not able to sterilise their cats in time. If possible, we strongly encourage sterilising your cat as early as possible to prevent unwanted pregnancies that could put your pet’s health at risk. If you wish to expand your fur-family, there are many adorable kitties looking for a forever home in animal shelters!
Congratulations! After months of fretting and fussing over your feline friend, the time has come for your momma cat to give birth to her own litter. Cat owners need not worry — momma cats innately know how to handle the situation, as they have strong maternal instincts. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be able to facilitate a smooth and comfortable birthing experience for your kitty.
Typically, a cat’s gestation period is around 58 – 67 days, and it’s important to take note of several important things:
Visit the vet
A quick visit to the vet can provide lots of helpful information such as the condition of the kittens, the approximate due date, as well as the size of the litter. An average litter can range anywhere from two to five kittens, and knowing exactly how many kittens you’re having can help your preparations immensely.
Set up a nest
A nest is an essential part of feline pregnancy. Nests provide a warm and comfortable place for momma cats to settle in right before going into labour, and you can easily make them from laundry baskets, travel carriers, cardboard boxes, and even improvised from litter trays! Just line any of these with old towels and linens or urine pads, and make sure that a litterbox is ready and available in the vicinity, along with clean water and food.
Here are the things that you will need to prepare in the event that your kitty needs assistance during the birth:
- Blunt scissors and a suture removal kit in case you need to cut umbilical cords (the mother will usually do this by herself, but just in case)
- Antiseptic solution
- Disposable gloves to handle the newborn babies
- A milk replacer and milk bottles or plastic syringes, in case the kittens face issues nursing from the mother cat
Kitten-proof your home
Newborn kittens have no sense of awareness for their own safety. Therefore, it is up to you to protect them and remove any hazards that could put them at risk! Loose items such as rubber bands, plastic wrap, needles, and so forth should be stored properly and your living space should be decluttered.
Other hazards that you should be aware of are electrical cords, as they are of particular interest to felines. It’s best to tape loose wires to surfaces where they are out of reach of the newborns.
Stock up on the essentials
Once your kittens are born, you will have to do some shopping to ensure that all their needs are met. Here are a few guidelines:
Bedding: Opt for something soft and cosy when choosing a bed, preferably one that is fully washable.
Food: It’s ideal to choose kitten food that has undergone the AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) feeding trial so that you can feed an accepted and specifically formulated diet that suits your kittens.
Litter box: Make sure it’s shallow enough so that the kittens can enter easily. If a regular litter box is too huge, you can start with a small plastic storage box, or ask for a suitable recommendation from a pet shop.
Toys: Bonding in the first weeks of your kitten’s adolescence is important. To facilitate bonding with the newborns, we recommend getting toys such as feather dusters, strings, and yarns that allow you to play with them directly. Just make sure not to purchase toys with detachable or small parts that could turn into choking hazards!