What To Expect When You’re Expecting … Kittens
It has been decades since a cat of mine has given birth, but I remember when my old cat, Guenivere gave birth. She had two small litters, which was a blessing because siamese can birth up to 12 kittens in one litter. Guenivere’s litters taught me that one or 12, if your cat is expecting kittens soon, you will need to plan ahead to make the birthing process easier for you both.
Cat Pregnancy Basics
Unlike some animals, cats can breed anytime of the year. They also have a very short gestation period (only two months!). The amount of kittens that a cat can have within a year is unbelievable, and it gets exponentially multiplied once those kittens start having kittens. This is why it’s so important to get your pets spayed as soon as they are able.
However, if you find yourself in a situation with kittens on the way, one needs to prepare for the big day to ensure the kittens will survive and thrive. First, confirm the pregnancy with your veterinarian and ask them for advice to plan and prepare.
Caring For A Pregnant Cat
Once it’s official you need to watch for some possible pregnancy symptoms, including:
To help with morning sickness, change your cat’s food to top shelf quality and look for labels such as “expectant cat” for the mother and “kitten food” for the new arrivals. Cat foods have come a long way and this is the time to spend the extra money to help your cat have some healthy kittens. Your cat food can also be supplemented with some rich meats and some safe ones are canned tuna or chicken. These are easy to add to her daily meals and she can get rich nutrients this way.
Preparing For Birth
I remember us making a bed for Guenivere to birth her kittens in and she decided to go elsewhere in the house – I guess I can’t really blame her for doing her own thing! However, it’s a good idea to prepare a birthing area, even if your cat chooses not to use it.
Choosing a birthing box can be simple and almost no-cost. One can find a cardboard box anywhere and these are easy to cut and adjust to the mother’s needs. Create a low side entry so she has easy access when she needs it, but not so low that newborn kittens can fall out. You can also cover the box with a blanket or another piece of cardboard. Many cats like the privacy and security this “cave” feeling provides. If your cat likes their carrier, you can also use that, as long as it’s roomy enough for her to move around in.
Some more inexpensive options are an underbed storage box, litter pan or even a laundry basket. Line the bottom with puppy pads and change these each day to ensure the area is clean and absorbent. You can also add old towels, a blanket or something soft and comfortable, as she will be resting inside for a while. Changing these daily is important after the birth, but be careful not to overstay your welcome or she will up and relocate in the middle of the night for privacy. Guinevere did this because we were peeking in too much and she wanted solitude and quiet!
The calendar says the day is near, her belly is huge, so how do you know for sure today’s the day? Your queen will start to nest and this is the optimum time to make a final vet visit. Ask questions on what to do in case of complications, what to expect, how to respect her boundaries and other important birth questions the vet can answer.
When the day has arrived, you will notice your cat stop eating 24 hours beforehand and really start to nest. Get that birthing box ready and in a quiet, warm area so she won’t be disturbed. Keep other pets and children away from her birthing area. Make sure you get your sleep as well! In no time, there will be kittens running all over!