Raising kittens is a remarkably rewarding experience, as you get to see how each individual kitten develops their own personality. Giving the kittens the things they need is repaid tenfold in affection and playfulness. If you’ve been looking into how to become a registered cat breeder and caring for a litter of kittens, here are some useful tips on how to do it properly.
However, raising kittens can also be challenging, as their long-term health is greatly affected by their early life experiences. With this great of a responsibility, every cat owner must be prepared to give their cats the care and attention to ensure their health and happiness.
As you prepare to welcome your new furry family members home, there are a few things you will need to take care of in order to make sure they are comfortable and have everything they need.
One of the first things you will need to do is set up an area for the kittens. This area should be warm, quiet, and away from any drafts. It is also important that the area is large enough for the kittens to move around and play in, but not so large that they can get lost or hurt.
You will also need to provide them with a litter box, as well as some toys and climbing structures. Kittens love to play, so making sure they have plenty of toys to keep them occupied is important.
Diet and Nutrition
Kittens should be fed a diet of kitten food until they are around one year old. Kitten food is higher in calories and protein than adult cat food, which helps them grow into healthy adults.
You can feed your kitten either dry or wet food, or a combination of both. It is important to always have fresh water available for your kitten.
Kittens spend a lot of time sleeping – up to 20 hours a day! They usually sleep in short bursts throughout the day and night. As they get older, they will sleep less during the day and be more active at night.
It is important to provide your kitten with a comfortable place to sleep, away from any drafts or loud noises. A warm blanket or pillow can also help make their sleeping area more cosy.
Kittens need plenty of playtime to help them stay active and healthy. A good way to play with your kitten is to use a string or wand toy and let them chase it around – this will also help them get some exercise!
Be sure to watch closely when playing with string or wand toys, as kittens can sometimes get tangled up in them or choke on small parts. Also, avoid using your hands as toys, as this can encourage biting behaviour.
Kittens typically groom themselves quite often, but you may need to help them out with baths and nail trims from time to time. It is important to start getting your kitten used to being handled early on so that grooming sessions are not stressful for either of you.
When giving your kitten a bath, use warm water and a mild shampoo designed specifically for cats – avoid getting water in their ears and eyes. You can trim your kitten’s nails yourself using special cat nail trimmers, or take them to the groomer or vet to have it done professionally.
It is important to have one more litter box than the number of cats you have. So, if you have three kittens, you should have four litter boxes. The general rule is that the litter box should be scooped at least once a day, and completely changed out every two to three weeks.
Kittens generally start using the litter box around 3-4 weeks of age. If your kitten is not using the litter box, take him or her to the vet to rule out any medical problems
Vaccinations and Vet Care
Kittens are born without any immunity to diseases, so it is important that they receive a full series of vaccinations beginning at around 8 weeks old. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a vaccination schedule based on your kitten’s age and health status.
In addition to vaccinations, all kittens should also be spayed or neutered when they reach around 6 months old to help reduce the number of unwanted animals in shelters and homes.
Last but not least, one of the most important aspects of caring for kittens is socialisation. Kittens who are properly socialised from a young age are more likely to grow into friendly, outgoing adults. Most behavioural problems in cats can be attributed to a lack of socialisation and training.
Socialisation involves slowly introducing your kittens to new people, places, and experiences in a positive way so that they learn to associate these things with good things like treats and affection.
Caring for the Mother and Newborns
Provide plenty of food and water for the mother cat if she is still present. She will need extra nourishment to recover from childbirth and produce milk for her kittens. If the mother cat is not present or if you are unsure if she is able to care for her kittens, contact a local animal shelter or rescue organisation for assistance. They may be able to provide you with a foster mother cat or bottle-feed the kittens until they are old enough to eat on their own.
Newborn kittens cannot urinate or defecate on their own so they rely on their mother’s tongue to stimulate their elimination reflexes. If you are bottle-feeding the kittens, you will need to perform this task yourself using a warm, wet washcloth or cotton ball. Gently rub their tummies in a circular motion until they relieve themselves in their litter box or on the towels you have placed underneath them. It is important to keep them clean and dry to avoid infection or dehydration.
Kittens should gain weight every day during their first few weeks of life so monitor their progress closely. Weigh them regularly using a kitchen scale and track their progress on a growth chart provided by your veterinarian or found online (search “kitten growth chart”). If they appear lethargic, have diarrhea, vomit frequently, or stop gaining weight, contact your veterinarian immediately as these could be signs of illness.