Raising kittens: The first few weeks - tips for breeders
Cat mother with offspring
New life brings new challenges. This is true at all levels and so the arrival of a kittens baby is an experience that requires preparation and confrontation in advance. This guide will help you through the difficult first few weeks and offers many tips on birth, care and first education. If your cat is not yet pregnant, think very well in advance of whether you can shoulder the responsibility, costs, and expenses of raising a cat family, and discuss this with experienced, registered cat breeders. It should also be noted that this guide can not cover all situations and details of responsible cat rearing. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or, if you want to breed breed cats, speak with your cat breeding association, such as the 1st German Cattery Association e.V. Animal shelters or a trusted animal welfare association are also good contacts for any questions you raise on kittens.
The pregnancy of a cat should be determined and accompanied by a veterinarian. In the week before the birth, the cat becomes inactive and spends time searching for a suitable place for the litter. It may take a prepared by the owner place, but often because of increasing unrest. Do not panic if the good carpet or your bed turns out to be space, but make appropriate sanitary preparations.
Cat babies wrapped
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After birth, the cat's eyes slowly open
After about 63 days the first contractions of the cat begin. She will find this unpleasant, especially when she throws for the first time. About twelve hours before birth, pulse rate and respiratory rate increase. Often milk is already running out of the teats. At the spot selected by the cat, she undergoes a thorough cleaning shortly before. The following labor lasts for two to twelve hours and is accompanied by restlessness and pain. The time between contractions and birth is longer with first-time mothers.
The birth itself happens relatively fast - the cat instinctively knows how to behave. First, the amniotic sac is seen, which, if it does not burst, is bitten by the cat. The boy is freed from the cat by the bladder and completely licked. This not only purifies but also stimulates breathing. Immediately thereafter, the mother pushes her stomach to warm it and nourish it. Breast milk contains important antibodies that temporarily protect the baby. The siblings follow at intervals of five to 60 minutes. The meantime uses the cat to clean itself.
There may be birth defects that require the intervention of a veterinarian. Common risks are the lack of use of the contractions with open cervix, too high blood loss as well as persistent pressure urge and fever with the mother animal.
The afterbirths are eliminated within two hours of birth. Instinctively, the cat will eat her up in most cases. The cat mother may be aggressive towards other pets if she suspects a danger to the offspring.
Development of the offspring
Up to the age of about seven months, a cat goes through three phases: In the newborn phase (week 1-2) the boy is helpless and completely dependent on the mother. During the socialization phase (week 3-7), the young cat begins to perceive its environment and becomes very receptive to it. This is true for humans and other pets. Finally, in the youth phase (week 8-24), the relationship with the owner is established.
You should always keep in mind that cats are descended from wild animals. Their instinctive behavior is correspondingly pronounced. The attachment to the human and the education in the first two phases are therefore of crucial importance.
The first days consist exclusively of drinking and sleeping. The mother guards her every minute and provides vital warmth all the time. It's an event to watch the boys picking their teeth. Searching, finding and sucking are controlled by reflexes that always bring the babies, who are approaching with their forelegs, to the goal. If a cub once falls out of the nest or does not find it again, it emits a loud cry, which the mother can assign immediately. At the end of the week, a kitten is about 15cm long and already covers distances of up to 50cm.
Cat baby screams
The cat baby keeps evolving and growing
The cat mother is still responsible for the hygiene in the nest. She licks the boys' anus and eats excrements. This remains so until the boys are able to go to the litter box. In the second week the eyes open and the vision quickly increases after 24 hours of habituation. Also, hearing is being developed these days. The ears stand up and the boys react curiously to all the sounds. The now almost 20cm long and 200 grams heavy animals take the first steps at the end of the week and drive out their claws for the first time.
The offspring still spends up to 16 hours a day asleep, but is all the more alert during the waking phases. Listening, seeing and running gets better every day and the baby teeth are growing. For the nutrition it is important that the mother gets to eat more than usual. For four boys, the need for feed can double.
To protect the juveniles from parasitic infestation, a regular worming cure is recommended. Kittens should be treated with a worming cure between the 2nd and 4th week of life. The exact dosage and mode of administration clarify in advance with the veterinarian. Worm-free kittens have the best conditions for administering the first vaccine against infectious diseases such as cat and cat flu. The first vaccination should be administered around the 8th week of life.
The cat mother instinctively searches for a new place to prevent parasitic infestation. In a hygienic environment, this is of course not necessary and you can easily put the litter back in the original nest after one to two days. The boys become more independent from the fourth week and start socialization. Experiences from this period (weeks 4-7) shape the personality of the animal forever. It is advisable not to fix a cub on a person, but to bring it into contact with as many people as possible. Gentle petting and coaxing are a good way to successful socialization.
The senses of the young cats are fully developed at the end of this phase. They continue to drink breast milk, but should be given solid food for the first time at the beginning of the sixth week. The play instinct grows and the brawls with the siblings become more coordinated. The boys are also increasingly imitating their mothers - they want to eat the same things and start climbing furniture. To avoid anxiety and / or aggressiveness, the cat family should stay together for another two weeks.
Cat baby is playing
It is also important for cats that they can let off steam
The now almost 30cm long kitten have arrived in their youth phase and romp what it lasts. Serious fights can be seen as a game when the mouth is half open and the cats emit no aggressive sounds. At this stage, young cats are discovering toys for themselves. At the end of the eighth week occasionally shows a fear reaction in strange people or animals. This can often be taken in the following weeks. If the reaction remains, the animal must be particularly affectionate and familiarized with the stranger.
If you want to sell animals from your, or the entire litter, this is possible from the twelfth week. The cats get up to the tenth week again a physical boost, the milk teeth fall out until the sixth month. They reach sexual maturity between the 4th and 12th month of life. In order to avoid unwanted offspring and stress (caused by the run) for the animal, an early castration is appropriate. From the 8th week of life, a so-called early castration is already possible.
Much of the socialization takes place within these weeks of life. The kittens learn a lot from their mother and siblings. Young animals, which can stay with their siblings until the 12th week, are much more open-minded towards conspecifics. In addition, the kittens do not learn to scratch while playing with their siblings and their mother, develop a healthy self-esteem and are less anxious. Confidence in humans, the young also learn through the mother. Experiences with other people and animals and in unknown places such as a car ride are important for the social behavior of the animal. To protect against infectious diseases, the young should be vaccinated in the 8th and 12th week of life. Only with a complete vaccination the animals are ready for delivery. Since cats are not single hunters, especially young animals should be taught only in pairs. So is always a playmate in the house and the tomb tiger not lonely.