Surely you have been watching and taking care of your pregnant cat until its delivery. But now, suddenly you wonder: my cat just had kittens, what do I do? The care you give your mother cat after the birth of her kittens is as important as the care you gave her before giving birth.
When you understand the changing needs in caring for your mother cat, you can better support her and her kittens after birth.
During this delicate time of breastfeeding, your observation skills and knowledge are essential for the proper development of kittens.
In this article, I offer you advice on what care a newborn cat and her kittens need, as well as warning signs of health problems and kitten developmental milestones
What to do with a newly born cat?
Heat is very important, as newborn kittens lose it quickly. The cat will clean them and with her own body heat will keep them warm. If she is very tired or upset, she can ignore them, in which case you should provide heat, via a heated blanket or covered hot water bottle, not warmer than body temperature, and the kittens should be covered with a light towel or a blanket.
Kittens should start suckling from their mother almost immediately . If they don’t do it within half an hour, gently guide them to the nipples. If they don’t start feeding, see your vet and you may need to give them a milk replacer. Remember, newborn kittens cannot go more than a few hours without drinking milk.
The queen must be watched carefully after birth. You should seek veterinary advice if you see any problems.
These problems you may encounter:
- Bleeding from the vagina or unusual discharge.
• Prolapse of the uterus (womb).
• Altered, inappropriate behavior:
- Noises, constant interruptions, or pain can cause the cat to kill her kittens. The risk of this is reduced if Mom is familiar with her surroundings, her surroundings are calm, and she is in good health. Do not disturb the cat with the kittens unless necessary and keep other pets away.
- If the cat is uncomfortable with her surroundings and feels threatened, you can try moving her kittens to another location. It is important to ensure that the queen has access to a warm, clean and quiet place. You may appreciate a cardboard box lined with soft blankets and sheets to hide the kittens.
- If the queen seems to be rejecting one of her kittens, adding some of the birthing fluids can help her accept it.
- Ignore the kittens and don’t feed them.
- Mastitis– Infection of a mammary gland, which usually becomes warm, painful, and enlarges. Shows lack of appetite, vomiting etc.
- Clumsy movements, contractions, or collapse.
What do you feed a newly born cat?
During and immediately after delivery, most female cats do not eat . However, within 24 hours after the last kitten is born, he should start eating again, and most likely he will eat a lot. Nursing a litter of kittens takes a lot of energy and you need to eat what is necessary to feed the newborns.
A high-quality cat food may suffice , but many veterinarians recommend feeding a new mother cat a special lactation diet. This will provide additional calories that are used to make more milk.
Make sure to keep enough food for your cat at all times. Some moms can eat up to four times their normal amount while breastfeeding. After about a month, the queen will begin to wean her offspring and the amount of food can be slowly reduced to return to their normal adult diet. At about 8 weeks of age, kittens should be weaned .
The first milk produced, colostrum , is rich in antibodies and will protect kittens from disease. These antibodies last six weeks or longer. Kittens get colostrum during their first 16 to 24 hours of life and should be fed within two hours of birth. It is essential that they take this colostrum to protect them against disease.
The Newborn kittens are fed every two or three hours . Kittens that are adequately fed from the queen will sleep between meals and will not need additional food until three to four weeks of age. If they don’t get enough food from their mother cat, they may cry constantly and search for the nipples.
Health of the cat and her young after childbirth
The health of the cat and her kittens is one of the most important aspects that you should take care of after giving birth.
After delivery, check the number of placentas, there should be one for each kitten. Cats usually ingest them, but make sure that none remain inside the cat after giving birth, because it could cause an infection.
During the first week of the kittens’ life, you should check the mother cat’s temperature daily .
If the cat is relaxed, it is recommended to weigh the kittens at birth, when they generally have between 90 and 110 g each. Keep records and weigh the kittens daily to make sure they are catching around 10-15g each per day, doubling their birth weight at two weeks of age.
Weaning can begin at three to four weeks of age, but for the definitive being, it will take several weeks. Once she’s weaned, it’s good to spend time away from the kittens each day to help her milk dry out gradually. However, kittens will continue to learn from her, so kittens should not be completely separated from their mother until they are at least eight weeks old.
Veterinary care of cats and kittens
Consult with your vet about the best time and products to control fleas and worms in both cats and kittens ; some can be recommended from two days of age.
Set up vaccinations with your vet to protect kittens from the disease, as the protection they received from colostrum is diminished and leaves them vulnerable to disease, often between eight and nine weeks of age.
How long do you have to wait to sterilize a newly born cat?
Regarding the sterilization of the cat, if you have thought about it, this can be done after a month of having had her young. Once the cat has given birth it is important that she loves the kittens for at least one month. However, it is best to wait until the kittens no longer need it and spay it when they are around eight weeks old . The cat can get pregnant again a week or two after giving birth, so it is advisable not to wait long to spay her.
Kittens should be neutered around four months of age. If sterilization is not carried out, the males should be separated from the females and the cat, to avoid reproduction.
Behavior of kittens after giving birth
Kittens learn what is normal and safe between two and eight weeks of age : this is the “socialization period . ” Having a variety of positive experiences during this time period, for example with different sights, sounds, textures, and smells, will mean that they are more likely to be able to adapt in the future.
Kittens that are not exposed to different experiences during this sensitive period are more likely to be afraid of novelty later in life. For example, wild kittens born in the wild without exposure to people during the socialization period cannot be tamed and will continue to be very afraid of people throughout their lives.
Therefore, it is important that kittens have positive experiences before seven weeks of age, with so many aspects of the home environment that may be encountered in the future.
Cats that see and smell unrelated, non-aggressive cats when they are less than eight weeks old generally get along better with other cats as adults.
Making the most of socialization opportunities during this sensitive period will help kitties to be well-adjusted, content, and sociable pets for the rest of their lives. Kittens can learn a lot from their mother, so it is recommended that they stay with the mother cat until they are at least eight weeks old .
In the family environment, people often make the mistake of playing with the kittens with their fingers or moving their feet under the duvet. Although this can be fun with a young kitten, it can begin to direct play or predatory behaviors towards the owner.
It is important to find suitable new homes for kittens with owners who will maintain and spay them. The kittens can be given individually or in pairs, but if they are given individually, make sure the new owners provide enough encouragement.
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