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Fostering: Pregnant and Nursing Cats
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Responsibilities Of Pregnant/Nursing Cat Foster

The attention and care of a pregnant and nursing cat will vary based on the individual cat. At a minimum, you should be prepared for the following.

Pregnant Cats
She’ll need additional calories as she progresses through her pregnancy. After all, she’s eating for more than one. Choose a food suitable for reproduction. Kitten food is usually a good choice. Plan on increasing the amount of food provided as your pregnant cat nears her term.

Shortly before her due date, provide your cat with a box or similar shelter where she can give birth to and care for her kittens. Line the box with soft blankets or towels. Choose materials that are easy to launder and/or easy to clean or replace. Place the box in a quiet, familiar location, and show your cat where the box is located.

Don’t be surprised if your pregnant cat chooses a location other than the box you have prepared to actually have her kittens. If so, don’t be afraid to move the kittens to the prepared box once they’re born. It’s perfectly fine to handle the kittens; handling them will not cause your cat to abandon or injure her kittens.

When your pregnant cat’s time comes and she’s ready to give birth to her kittens, watch her closely. It’s likely she’ll be able to deliver her kittens without your help. However, there are some things that should prompt you to seek veterinary care.

  • If your cat is having active contractions and has not passed a kitten within 15-20 minutes, seek veterinary care.
  • If you see part of the fetus or placenta protruding from your cat’s vulva and she does not pass the kitten very quickly (within a minute or two), get your cat to her veterinarian.
  • It’s not abnormal for a cat to rest between having kittens. However, if more than 2 hours passes between kittens, consult with your cat’s veterinarian.
  • Have the cat examined by the veterinarian when she finishes queening.

Nursing Cats
Provide a box big enough for everyone, with sides tall enough to keep the kittens from falling out but low enough for the mother cat to get out.

Line the box with several layers of bedding so that you can peel away layers as the kittens soil the top layer.

Let the mother cat feed and care for her kittens as long as she is actively engaged with them.

Provide a nutrient-dense diet for the mother cat. Kitten food is ideal. Offer food several times a day, or consider keeping a bowl of dry food available to her at all times.

It’s normal for the mother cat to want time away from her kittens between feedings. Once the kittens start exploring, you can keep them contained in one room with a baby gate that the mother can easily jump over.

Kittens will begin trying out moist kitten food at about four weeks of age.  If any seem slow to begin feeding on their own, you can help out by putting a bit on your finger to let them smell it.