Has your cat given birth to a cute litter of kittens? The feeling a pet owner gets when this happens could be either excitement or indifference. Either way, what is most important at this point is caring for the new mom and her babies, and you need to step in to see to it that the kittens are given the care possible.
However, it is important to note that you might be doing more harm than good if you try to interfere as she bonds with her babies because she is very fragile at this point.
Caring for a new kitten
The most crucial time for a queen cat and her kittens is the first two to three weeks after they are born. The rate of development for the kittens will be very rapid and their mother who show signs of any postpartum issues during this period.
The babies and their mother should be given a quiet area of the house to stay preferably an extra room that is warm enough as kittens are at risk of experiencing many health challenges when exposed to cold.
Let the mother cat decide when it’s convenient for you to visit her and the babies. If she has been your pet for a long time, it might be easier for her to welcome you to visit but if she’s a stray or relatively new to you, she may prefer that you stay away entirely as long as her babies are thriving.
Get a box large enough to hold the mama cat and her kittens comfortably. Arrange clean towels inside the box so that when the kittens soil the top layer with their excrement and urine, it will be easy for you to take out That later and reveal a clean one.
The mama cats litter box, water bowl, and food should be kept near her so that she can easily access them. During this make ensure to feed with her with good quality of kitten food supplemented with kitten milk replacement.
Health threats to kittens
There are three categories of health problems kittens are vulnerable to infectious diseases like respiratory infections, some congenital infection, and parasite diseases. One of the most well known congenital diseases is the fading kitten syndrome.
The fading kitten syndrome can be caused by multiple factors, and it happens when a kitten fails to thrive. If you notice that a particular kitten amongst the newborn is always sleepy and not as active as it’s siblings and is also lethargic, those are a few signs of the fading kitten syndrome — this condition who require that you consult a vet who specialises in kittens immediately.
For the first three weeks after the birth of the kittens, the mother cat will encourage elimination by licking her babies in the stomach area and anus. When she is not available to do that, you can help by using a warm and damp washcloth on those areas of each kitten’s body.
Development of newly born kittens
Within three days the eyes of the kittens will begin to open, and their umbilical cord will also fall off. Because the nervous systems of the kittens are yet to develop fully, you will notice them twitching in their sleep. It is a normal process, and it is an indication that their nervous system and muscles are growing.
The kittens should begin to crawl around by two weeks and even making attempts to stand. They should also be teething during this period, and you will notice when you check their mouth and feel tiny nubs.
When the kittens reach their weeks, that will begin to walk around the house and play actively. You can introduce them to wet food during this time supplemented with kitten milk replacement even though they will still be actively nursing during this period. This is also an excellent time to introduce them to the use of the litter box, but you have to avoid clumpy clay litter. Search for any premium non-clay litter to train them with.
After birth vet well-check
The first week after the birth of the kittens, take both mother and babies to the vet for a well-check. If the mother cat was not vaccinated, take advantage of the visit to make sure that she gets her vaccination. Also, tell the best to give the mother cat a vaccination against roundworm to protect both herself and the kittens.
Even after this first visit, if you notice that the mother cat or any of her babies show signs of illness, take them back to see the vet.
Potential problems for a new mama cat
There are some conditions that are vital you watch out for in a new mother cat. Just like human mother’s, mama cats can have mastitis. This occurs when her milk production is heavy, and the milk is retained in her body.
If your mama cat has mastitis, you will notice her teats become swollen and hot which will make her avoid nursing her babies. When you discover that your cat has mastitis, take her to the vet as it is an emergency. You will have to hand feed the kittens till their mother is well enough to continue her duty.
Hypocalcemia which is also called milk fever is a rare condition in felines, and it is caused by calcium deficiency during pregnancy and even during nursing. The symptoms of hypocalcemia include staggering, restlessness, seizures, excessive panting, and muscle tremors. Just like mastitis, hypocalcemia is a vet emergency which means you have to hand feed the kittens till their mother is fit to take over.
Another problem that appears to be a vet emergency as well is endometritis. This is an infection of the uterus and it a serious one. The mother cat will have normal vagina drainage after the birth of her kittens, but when you notice a foul smelling discharge, you should be concerned. Other symptoms of endometritis include loss of milk production, fever, and lethargy.
When the mother cat suffers from endometritis, she might have to be hospitalised for some time, and you also have to take on the responsibility of feeding the babies. The chances that such complications would occur is meager, so you should worry less. Your cat will be fine.