HOW DOES YOUR KITTEN GROW?
Did you know most feline pregnancies happen by accident? Also, pregnancy in cats is seasonal. By their very nature, cats are designed to give birth during the warmer and longer days of the year. Surprisingly, a cat’s reproductive system is mature enough to become pregnant as young as five months old.
So, if your cat is expecting, here are a few things you need to know!
Cat Moms, or Queens
A mommy cat is typically pregnant for about two months. The average litter is somewhere between three and five kittens.
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet for the momma during the gestation period. Have a discussion with your veterinarian, or consult the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to ensure you are meeting your pregnant cat’s dietary and nutritional needs.
Additionally, since flea anemia can contribute to neonatal feline death, consult your veterinarian about the use of a safe flea prevention on your pregnant cat.
At birth, newborn kittens only sense, is that of smell. That keen sense of smell will help them locate their mother’s milk. It usually takes about ten days for a kitten’s eyes and ears to open, and become functional.
For the first three to four weeks, kittens will be completely dependent on their mother. Thankfully, most cats are caring and devoted mothers to their kittens. A cat mom’s main job the month after birth will include:
- Stimulating urine and bile movements
- Weaning around the four weeks of age
Kittens will start to develop “baby” teeth around three weeks of age. The mother will start weaning as soon as those little teeth start to “hurt.” This is a great time for you to start introducing kitten food and some type of milk replacement.
As the kittens adapt to their new food source, prepare for a bit of messiness. Just like human babies, kittens may struggle a bit at first finding their mouths.
Kitty Litter Box
Luckily, cats are very smart. They have an innate inclination to use the bathroom in sand-like substances. Typically, most kittens can be fully litter box trained at two months.
Strategically place the little box near the kittens. Kittens will also learn by mimicking their mother’s actions.
Once the kittens are weaned, it’s the perfect time to introduce them to the litter box. A great way to do this is to first, limit their roaming space. Cats are clean freaks and, generally will not want to urinate or defecate where they sleep and/or eat.
Kitten Growth and Development
After a few weeks, kittens will have all their senses. They will be weaned from their mommy and doing a lot more on their own. In just two short months, those kittens will be quite playful and active.
Kittens will typically grow at the average of a pound a month until they reach six months of age. After, any growth will be dependent on a multitude of factors, including breed, health condition and activity level.
Socialization is one important aspect of a kitten’s growth and development. You will want to start spending time with the kittens within two weeks of their birth. This human interaction helps the kittens build trust with humans and makes living with us a place of comfort for them.
As mentioned earlier, most Queens will take very good care of their litter. However, if you observe any of the following health concerns, it may warrant a trip to your veterinarian prior to the normal six- to eight- week checkup:
- Trouble breathing
- Discharge from nose and/or eyes
- Lack of appetite
- Diarrhea (kittens dehydrate quickly)
First Veterinarian Visit
At about the six- to eight-week mark, kittens should be evaluated by your veterinarian. The kittens should be dewormed and given their first round of vaccinations.
More Kitten Love!
In no time at all, these fragile kittens will become confident and mature felines. Enjoy their curious nature and personality as you watch them grow.
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, a cat’s sexual reproductive system matures around six months of age. Be sure to schedule that spay/neuter with your veterinarian.