Kitten care, the most important part of a kittens new life is....

Kitten care, the most important part of a kittens new life is the care it receives from its mother in the first weeks of life.

66 days is the average gestation period for domestic cats, after which time they will give birth to 2 to 5 kittens. For the first three weeks of their lives they are heavily dependent upon their mother.

Kittens are unable to urinate or defecate without being stimulated by their mother. They require heat from their mother as well as nutrition provided by the mothers milk, which also transfers antibodies to help fight infectious diseases.

At about the seventh or tenth day the kittens will start to open their eyes, their sight being very poor at this stage in their development, it takes about ten weeks for their eyesight to become as keen as their mothers, sometimes a kitten may have problems opening their eyes as they become stuck, if this persists and the mother has not rectified it by proper cleaning, it is time to intervene and administer a little kitten care.

It is best to isolate the mother from the kittens as she will be very protective and may become aggressive towards you. Gently bathe the kittens eye with warm milk, the eye may open at this stage, if not when the mother returns she will soon inspect all her kittens and commence to clean them, especially the one with the milky eye!

The mother cat may move her kittens from time to time, to somewhere she feels is safer, warmer, more comfortable, it would not be uncommon to come home to find the kittens on your bed or the comfy sofa.

We recently had a stray cat turn up at home, within three days of visiting us and making herself at home, making friends with our twelve year old pointer who is soft as a brush as long as you are not wearing feathers, commenced to move her litter of five, six week old kittens into the summer kitchen, this process took the mother two and a half hours to complete, carrying each one individually. It was interesting to observe how she gave the deposited kittens the command to hide and stay while she returned to fetch another.

The next morning I inspected the cats new den being careful not to disturb anything, I was not surprised to see the kittens scatter and hide behind the boxes stored in the kitchen. What did surprise me was the way the mother gave her kittens a call completely different to the previous nights sound to hide, which brought them all out from their hiding places to come and meet me and my dog. The mother had certainly done her homework and knew she could trust us both.

This behavior struck me as odd as the mother had only known us a few days obviously a wise old cat.

Developing rapidly from their second to seventh week, they begin to explore the world beyond their nest, investigating everything in their path, learning to wash themselves and their litter-mates, whom they will play fight and show their predatory traits in their hunting and stalking games. At around four weeks old, the kittens are gradually weaned and begin to eat solid food requiring less kitten care, although some of the kittens may continue to have the occasional feed from mum . It is at this point that the kittens should be socialized and handled if possible, otherwise they will not become used to human company and you will find it very difficult to find them homes. It is wise to have your cat spayed to avoid unwanted kittens.

It is wise to have your new kitten vaccinated against common illnesses from two to three months of age. This FVRCP inoculation is usually given at eight, twelve and sixteen weeks, and an inoculation against rabies may also be given at sixteen weeks.

FVRCP is a combination vaccine to protect against Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), Feline calicivirus (C), and Feline panleukopenia (P).

Kittens are so much fun to watch. it is a pity they have to grow up. With the loving kitten care provided by the mother and your care, keeping your cat healthy will ensure that your cat will be around for a long time bringing you lots of joy!

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