Find out what you need to do to make sure your cat's kitten birth goes as smoothly as possible
If your cat is pregnant and you are approaching the time of kitten birth, congratulations! Whether it was planned or not, now is the time to start preparing for the safe arrival of your kittens.
Preparing for kitten birth: keep your cat inside
Keep your cat inside. She can have free roam of the house but it is best not to let her outdoors. This will help reduce the risks and prevalence of fleas, worms and accidents.
Preparing for kitten birth: get your birthing kit ready in advance
Get your birthing kit ready. Every breeder has a birthing kit that they have developed over years of breeding experience. Here is what is in mine:
This is the best kitten milk replacer we’ve used, and the only one we will buy. It is also used by our vet. You cannot give kittens cows milk. Some people suggest goats milk is ok, but we would suggest sticking with a high quality kitten milk. With this milk, we dilute it more than the instructions say. The instructions suggest 1 scoop milk to 1 scoop water (boiled, then allowed to cool a bit). We use 1 scoop milk to 3 scoops water. Buy Royal Canin kitten milk here (#affiliatelink)
Ideal for kittens who won't immediately wean, we have helped several kittens by giving them a drop of this. Also ideal for foster kittens or any kittens whose mum won't or can't feed them. It is packed full of probiotics and colostrum. Best given within the first 24-48 hours of life, when the kittens body is able to absorb the colostrum effectively. Also highly recommended by our vet. Buy Kittystim here (#affiliatelink)
These can literally be a life saver. A high nutrient, high energy drop that is excellent to give to a queen during long labours. It is also good to mix a drop into kitten milk to help perk up a kitten that is not eating. Before you feed a kitten you need to make sure they are warm or you can make things worse rather than better. Buy Pettex Nutridrops here (#affiliatelink)
The absolute best way to feed newborn kittens milk. Bottles and syringes are very dangerous as you risk getting milk in the kittens’ lungs. Pipettes are super easy to use, dispensing the milk slowly, one drop at a time. These are one of our most essential items. Buy pipettes here (affiliatelink)
5. A clean cardboard box or ready shaped whelping box
We used to recycle them, using boxes we’d had deliveries in. Since the Covid pandemic there have been reports that delivery companies may be spraying boxes with disinfectant, so we have switched to brand new boxes so we know they are clean and safe. Buy cardboard boxes in the right size here - you will need to cut them to shape, or you can buy a ready shaped whelping box here (#affilaitelink)
6. Puppy pads
These are large, disposable pads with waterproof bottoms. Layer 4 or 5 of them in the nest, and then remove a layer once it is wet during labour. You can also use clean towels or fleeces although they can be harder to move during labour. Do make sure they are completely clean and have been washed on a 90C cycle and given an extra rinse cycle to make sure there is no detergent left on them. Detergent is very toxic to cats. Buy puppypads here. (#affiliatelink)
In case you need to trim umbilical cords. The rounded ends help to avoid accidentally injuring young kittens. Buy scissors here (#affilatelink)
These are very useful if you have a large litter of kittens in the same colour. You will need to weigh your kittens and keep track of their weights, so it is important to know who is who. Simply cut these velcro collars to size and pop them on your kittens, ensuring you can get at least 2 fingers under the collar. As your kittens grow you will need to keep checking the collars are not too tight and loosen them as necessary. Buy kitten collars here (#affilaitelink)
Absolutely essential for newborn kittens. We start with an accurate digital kitchen scale that is very sensitive and then as the kittens get bigger we use veterinary scales instead.
This litter is low dust, which is much better both our help and our cats. Dust from animal bedding has been linked to respiratory health conditions. It also means that if your cat decides to give birth in her litter tray, the kittens won’t get covered in dust. Buy Breeder Celect litter here (#affiliatelink)
The Bombadillo Kittening Kit!
Those are our top items that we always have ready to go at least a week before we have any kittens due. Over time you will develop your own preferences as you learn and experience more, but this is a great starting point. If you think we’ve missed anything essential drop us an email - we love to try new products!
Preparing for kitten birth: get the nursery ready
The feline gestation period is around 65 days but can vary from breed to breed. British Shorthairs usually give birth 65 days after their first mating. If it gets to day 69 and we don't have any kittens then a vet trip is in order. As the time for your cat to have her kittens approaches, you may be best to confine her to one room. Place at least one kitten nest for her, or more than one if you can. Line it with puppypads, or clean bedding. Keep the room at a warm temperature - around 22C should be fine. As her time of delivery approaches you will need to stay with her so you can watch for any problems.
Preparing for kitten birth: be financially ready
Kitten birth can be very expensive. A cesarean section costs a minimum of £1200 if it is done in the day time by your normal vet. If it is required in the evening or on the weekend it can be a lot more. It is really important that your cat has immediate access to a good vet as soon as she needs it. With kitten birth even 20 minutes can make a difference. Cats left to have difficult labours will usually lose all of their kittens - please do not delay seeking help. You will also need to vaccinate the kittens when they are 9 and 12 weeks old, and then spay/neuter them as well.
Some insurers now cover breeding risks, including a c-section, but you must insure your cat long before she becomes pregnant for the insurance to be valid. If you are planning on breeding then consider breeding risks insurance but do read the small print in the policy so you don't get caught out.
The next thing to do is read about labour and kitten delivery so you are as prepared as possible for what might come next. Here is a good place to start: Cat birth what is normal and when to worry