How to Care for a Cat After Giving Birth
Your new cat just delivered a litter of cuddly kittens. Rarely will you find a cat that doesn’t know how to care for her little ones, which is why you should focus on taking care of the Mom? The new mother cat doesn’t have anyone to take care of her, except you.
Fortunately, caring for a nursing cat is easier as they only need a little help. All the mother cat needs is peace, privacy, and a quiet environment that allows her to take care of the kittens. However, in addition to this, you need to be there if necessary.
Keep in mind that mother cats are very protective of their kittens, and therefore, you should limit the number of people checking on her. If you have kids, tell them to keep off from kittens and mother cat at this time to avoid being scratched by her as she tries to protect her newborns.
Also, playing with the new kittens can be stressful on the mother cat, and can potentially spread diseases to them. Delay the handling of kittens until they are at least four weeks old.
As mentioned earlier, the mother cat will do most of the care for her kittens, but you have your part- caring for her and the little ones.
Here are several care tips for mother cat after giving birth;
Boost the Mother’s Nutrition
Immediately after giving birth, most new mother cats do not have an appetite for eating anything. However, within 24 hours after she has given birth to the last kitten, the mother cat should begin to eat again.
You must be prepared with enough food to feed the nursing cat as she should be fed as much as she wants to eat.
Feeding her the usual cat food she is used to eating may be enough, but it is recommended that you feed the new mother cat with kitten food or food made specifically for lactating or nursing cat.
This food provides extra calories that will cater to your cat’s health to help her produce more milk for her kittens.
Ensure that your cat’s food bowl is full at all times as some new mother cats can eat up to four times their normal daily intake while they are nursing.
After about a month, the mother cat will begin weaning her kittens, and thus the amount of food offered to her can be gradually reduced as she begins to go back to her normal adult cat diet.
By eight weeks, the kittens should be eating their own food, and the adult cat should be back to normal in terms of the food they are being fed.
Provide a Warm, Dry Place for Them to Rest
Your mother cat and her kittens need a warm and dry place for safe delivery and nursing. A nesting box is needed for better health of both the mother cat and her kitten.
Here are several things to keep in mind when preparing a nursing area for your cat;
– It should be a quiet, warm, secluded area
– The nest box should be tall enough to prevent kittens from wandering away from their mother and low enough for the mother cat to come and go easily
– It should also be large enough for the mother cat to lie away from the kittens if she opts to. Also, it should be small enough for kittens to reach their mother easily
Using a plastic cat kennel as the nesting box works great and makes cleaning and disinfecting work easier.
The housing area should be temperature-controlled because kittens have weak body temperatures that can quickly drop to low levels.
Here are a few tips for making the nesting box comfortable and warm;
- Place layers of clean newspapers on the box to absorb any odor or moisture.
- Line clean towels, mattress pads, or blankets on top of the newspapers. Blankets and towels should not have large holes as kitten paws and heads can easily get entangled or caught. Therefore, avoid using loose bedding such as hay, straw, and shavings as they might block their noses when sleeping. Also, lose beddings such as hay may produce dust which may lead to respiratory infections.
- Place a heating pad with a low-temperature setting under the towels or blankets. Kittens find it hard to regulate their body temperature until they are three weeks old. Therefore, it is important to maintain the temperatures in their nesting box to keep them warm. Temperatures of between 85-95 degrees F are ideal. Ensure that you check the heating pad often to prevent it from overheating. Steer away from using electric blankets as they can be too hot for kittens and can cause burns.
- Also, do not place the nesting box directly on concrete as it can draw heat from the kittens
With the above housing tips for a nursing cat and kittens, you will be able to provide a better environment for them all.
Give the Mother Cat Time Alone
In most cases, if there are no complications during birth, it is best to leave the mother cat to relax and stay alone with her kittens. The mother cat can take care of the kittens alone, and therefore you should not worry about that. All you need is to feed the mother cat to maintain its good health.
Monitor her progress to ensure she starts nursing her kittens within an hour or two after birth. If she doesn’t allow the kittens to nurse, you might need to intervene and feed the kittens using a milk replacer. Also, reach out to your vet for more tips on how to handle a cat that doesn’t nurse her kittens.
New mothers are very protective of their babies. That’s why you find them sticking with them for the first few hours. During this period, the cat will do without water and food, and will not even leave to relieve herself. For this reason, it is important that you keep water, food, and litter box nearby.
After a few days, the new mother should feel more relaxed and may walk around. However, keep her food, water, and litter box nearby.
Also, you are advised to keep the mother cat away from the male cat as she may begin to cycle again after a week. This will prevent them from becoming pregnant right away.
The most important thing about caring for a nursing cat is to feed her high-quality kitten food or food meant for nursing cats. Also, ensure that they are staying in a dry, quiet place where she can take care of her kittens without being disturbed.