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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natal Care of a Cat and her Newborn Kittens

The first two to three weeks are the most crucial for your mother cat and her newborn kittens. The kittens should be developing rapidly, and the queen will usually show symptoms of any post-partum problems by this time.

Keep the mother cat and her babies in a quiet part of the house; a separate room is ideal, and make sure the room is warm enough. Chilling is one of the most critical dangers to newborn kittens. Let the mother cat set the pace for your attentions. If she is a longtime companion and resident, she may welcome your visits. A rescued stray or fostered cat may prefer that you stay away for the most part. As long as the kittens are nursing frequently and appear to be thriving, they will be

The Nursery

Use a large enough box to comfortably hold the mother cat and her kittens. Stack clean towels to line it. The towels will become soiled quickly as the kittens defecate and it will be easy to remove the top towel to reveal a clean layer. The photo shows a barn cat and her kitten safe in a cardboard box.

Keep the mother cat’s litter box, food, and water bowls close by, and continue to feed her a high quality kitten food, supplemented with KMR.

Nursing Newborn Kittens

Each kitten will choose its own teat for nursing at birth and will continue to nurse there by seeking out its own scent. It will nurse every two to three hours. A thriving kitten will quickly develop a fat tummy and will sleep peacefully.


For the first three weeks, the mother cat will lick each kitten around the abdomen and anal area after nursing to encourage elimination of waste. In her absence, this task would be yours, and would be accomplished with a warm, damp washcloth.

Development of Newborn Kittens

Three Day Old Kittens
Their eyes will start opening within three days. The umbilical cord will also fall off within this time. Their nervous systems are not fully developed and you will see them twitching during sleep. This is entirely normal, and indicates development of their nervous system and muscles.

Seven to Fourteen Days
The kittens will start crawling around and by two weeks they will be attempting to stand. Their teeth will be starting to come in during this time. You will be able to feel tiny nubs.

Three Weeks and Older
By three weeks the kittens will start walking around and actively playing. They can be introduced to wet food at this time, supplemented with KMR, although they still will be actively nursing. They can also be introduced to the litter box at this age.

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