Breeding, birth, and kitten care
Breeding cats is a serious responsibility. Kittens require plenty of time and money. If you have a pregnant cat, these articles should help
Do you want to breed cats?
To purposefully breed your cats you need to really know what you are doing, and why you are doing it. If you are breeding because you want more cats, want a cat with a character similar to the one you have, or like the idea of a cute litter of kittens, then you have not thought it through and probably should not be keeping animals.
Apart from the fact that there are already huge numbers of cats and kittens without homes, breeding cats and raising kittens is very time consuming and expensive. If you factor in all the costs of feeding, vaccinations, and neutering for a litter of several kittens you would soon be looking at several hundred dollars/pounds.
Lasting around two months from mating to birth, the obvious signs of pregnancy are a bigger belly and a noticeable increase in appetite. There can also be other signs such as a change in behaviour, increase or decrease in interaction or affection, and vomiting. During the first six weeks normal foods can be fed but it can be helpful to feed a more nutrient rich specialized food in the last few weeks.
A female cat (often called a 'queen' by breeders) when ready to give birth will look for a suitable spot, often a warm and dark corner or safe hiding place. Although she should be able to choose her own spot, it can be modified by adding some newspaper or cardboard. During the process of birth the kittens will get some seemingly rough treatment, being licked and pushed about by the mother, but this is normal and helps clean the kittens and get the airways cleared and working.
Yes, its cute, but raising kittens is a serious responsibility
The first 24 hours
Kittens should feed from their mother within an hour, but this can depend on all sorts of factors. If they are not feeding after several hours you may need to position them in the right place and encourage feeding. Be aware that the mother may be protective so make sure you approach slowly, calmly, and reassuringly. Under normal circumstances it is best to leave the mother and kittens alone as much as possible, and just check that the kittens are warm every few hours. Kittens will do virtually nothing but sleep and occasionally feed for the first few days, and the mother should not leave them.
The first week
Whilst you may expect little furry kittens running around the place looking cute, the first two weeks are not quite as lively. As the kittens eyesight is not very well developed they can't do much exploring and all they need to do is rest and feed. The mother should be fed on a high nutrient diet and provided with plenty of water, this will allow her to produce enough milk. you will need to make sure she has easy access to food and water as she may be unwilling to leave her litter. A healthy kitten being fed enough from its mother will be warm and content, whilst under nourished kittens may be colder, cry more, and appear separated from the litter.
Two to four weeks
Between two and four weeks is when the kittens really start developing. After two weeks the eyes should be open and this will start the process of exploration, although at first this will be very wobbly and haphazard. At about 3 weeks the kittens should be a lot more steady and will be starting to play with each other. After four weeks it is time to start the weaning process to prepare the kittens for independant life.