Little kittens are like all kittens: particularly cute and clumsy. If your cat is pregnant, you will have a rare opportunity to witness kittens being born and follow their development. But if you decide to raise kittens, you should think about what to expect during this time.
The cat is pregnant – isn’t it?
If your cat is pregnant, you may not realize it until it’s too late. Unless, of course, it is a deliberately mated cat. The first signs of a possible pregnancy are noticeable weight gain and an increasing appetite. From the third or fourth week of pregnancy, the teats turn reddish, from the fifth week the belly takes on a pear shape. A breeder will have a possible pregnancy checked by the vet after about two weeks by palpation and will monitor further development with ultrasound and other tests.
If the cat has been vaccinated and is otherwise in good health, no further action is necessary for the time being. Otherwise, it is of course advisable to visit the veterinarian. You should also ask your veterinarian about deworming. Otherwise, the pregnant cat needs, above all, good food and affection.
Important before the birth – prepare the whelping box
The gestation period of cats is between 58 and 68 days, usually 60 to 64 days. Since kittens are blind and deaf at birth, the mother will look for a safe place a few days before birth. Here she leaves her scent mark so that the babies can orientate themselves better. For this reason, you should provide your cat with one or more whelping boxes filled with blankets or old clothes that can be covered with a towel.
The Birth of the Kittens
If everything goes smoothly, your cat will give birth to her babies on her own. However, it is beneficial if you are with her during this time to help her in case of doubt or to call the vet. Once the babies have all been born healthy, the mother and kitten first need a lot of rest. In the first two weeks after the birth, the activity of the little ones is limited to eating and sleeping, so you only have to clean the whelping box and provide the mother cat with food and water when necessary.
By the end of the second week of life, the kittens dare to take their first steps. Development is ongoing – read more about it in this guide.
From the fourth week of life, the socialization phase of the kitten begins. From now on they should get to know as many new attractions, people, and animals as possible within a reasonable framework. Everything that the animals experience positively during this time is imprinted in their memory. Show the offspring the transport box, the noise of the vacuum cleaner, and all things that the cats are regularly exposed to as adults. At this time, the kittens should also be used to other people and not become too fixated on one person. If you already know the new cat owners, this is a good opportunity to introduce them to the kittens for the first time.
Through the mother and his littermates, the kitten learns the cat language while playing and romping and shapes its social behavior. His misconduct is reprimanded by his mother or siblings. The kittens also imitate their mother when going to the litter box. If you let the animals loose, the mother animal will also show them how to catch prey and introduce them to the dangers of freedom. Ideally, the littermates stay with their mother until they are 12 weeks old. This has been proven to be a good guarantee that the cats will remain open to other cats later on.
In the eighth week of life, the kittens have their first vaccination appointment and in the twelfth week, they are vaccinated again.
Raising kittens: moving into a new home
If the kittens are kept as indoor cats, it is best to only hand them over as a pair. Contrary to earlier opinions, cats are very social animals that need companionship in the form of a conspecific if they are alone in an apartment with no outdoor access. Before handing over the new owner, take a close look at the new owner and give him tips for good acclimatization of the kittens in their new home. Not only as compensation for your effort but also to protect the animals, you should not give the cats to strangers without a corresponding nominal fee.