A friend of mine had Mimi, a female cat, who got pregnant without anyone discovering her condition until the day she went into labour. She quickly gave birth to three gorgeous female kitties and one handsome male kitty. She only left their side to visit the litter box and have her meals. But as her faith in her humans was immense, she started venturing outside the house once her kittens were 3 weeks old. This led to an unfortunate event – Tim, the male kitten, got electrocuted while he was trying to chew a wire and died. After his funeral, my friend decided to research on how to take care of kittens. I helped her with it, and I learnt quite a few surprising things in kitten care. I hope that if you plan on having a little-wittle kitty-ku (getting carried away with their cuteness… Sorry, I meant little kitten) in your house, you need to know a lot of things.
Here are the things to do when kittens are born at home:
1. Before their arrival: If your cat is pregnant and you know it (which every responsible owner should know, unlike my friend), you should prepare a comfortable place for her to give birth in. You could take a big enough cardboard box and lay tissues and old newspapers in it and put a clean towel on it. This way, when blood and other substances come out of your cat along with her kittens, the towel and papers can soak it up. Immediately after the birthing process is over, change the papers and towel. This box should not be placed near chemicals, tools, machinery, wires and other such potentially harmful things.
2. During their influx: Cats usually do not need any help in child birth but once you realize that your cat is in labour, keep a vigilant eye on her and her well being. Sterilize a pair of scissors in case you need to cut the umbilical cord of a kitten which could get wrapped around its neck. Wash your hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap before attempting to go near your cat or her offsprings.
3. After the delivery: Do not touch kittens within the first week of their birth as they are very prone to infections. Do not attempt to feed them any other kind of milk. Their mother will fulfill their lactose needs herself. Feed your cat well and she will be able to feed her young ones properly.
4. Rapid growth and movement: By the time the kittens are about 3 weeks old, they would have opened their eyes and take in everything they can see. As the saying goes, “curiosity killed the cat”, cats are born curious. So they will start jumping around, climbing on things, clawing things, chewing things. Since you made a safe place for them, you need not worry. At 4-5 weeks, they can be given canned kitten food. A litter box should be placed close to them and their mother will educate them in that field. You just need to clean it regularly.
5. Play safe: Kittens love to play! Play with them, cuddle them, pet them, but only after you wash your hands with soap. Their immune systems are not strong enough yet and you do not want them to catch any illness or disease.
6. Clean and clear: Once the kittens start venturing beyond your house and into your garden, they will inevitably get dirty and most probably catch fleas. They need to be bathed or atleast sponged once a month. Do not scrub them. Gently rub their back with a soft cloth to remove all dirt. Use anti-tick cat formulae.
7. Give them away (conditional): If you are planning to sell the kittens or give them away, wait till they are atleast 8-12 weeks old. Educate the new owner about vaccines and shots and kitten care techniques.
Here are the things to do when you bring kitten/s home:
1. First day and first week: As soon as you take the kitten home for the first time, show it where the litter box and food/water are. Kittens do not usually need to be potty trained. Keep the kitten in one room and away from your other pets for the first week until it gets acclimatized to that room and gets friendly with you.
2. Food: Feed it 2-3 times a day. Keep water in a bowl for it as kittens dehydrate quickly.
3. Play safe: Get some cat toys or make homemade cat toys like yarn, wool ball etc. Play with them, cuddle them, pet them, but only after you wash your hands with soap.
4. Sleep well: Kittens are very active and due to their small size, they tire quickly. Do not wake a kitten at your whim. Buy it a cat bed. But it might need warmth and comfort and might still to choose to snuggle with you. So be careful not to squish, kick or injure your little kitten while sleeping.
5. Vaccines: Take your kitten to the vet timely and get it vaccinated. Do not forget to follow up on boosters. Do not let it out of the house until all the shots and their boosters have been given and the vaccination process is complete. You do not want your cat to catch any infection as cats are vulnerable to many.
6. First time venture: When you let your kitten out for the first time, keep a close eye on it until it returns to the safety of your home. Show it food when you need to call it. This way, it will know where to go back to after its outdoor adventures.