106 Hwy 22 South P.O. Box 477,
Mapleton, MN 56065

(507) 524-3748
(incl After Hour Emergency)

Blog/Health Tips

Preparing for Kittens

The breeding season for cats in Minnesota goes from December through July each year. Only a few female cats come into heat outside of this time period, and late January through May are when the most females are ready and the Tom Cats are straying.

The feline hormonal push to mate is much stronger than many people understand. Straying Toms explore literally every household with cats – indoor or outdoor – whether the owners of those households see them or not. Un-neutered males are direct targets for straying Toms, and cat bite wound abscesses are a common injury that we treat in the spring and summer at All Pets Clinic. Neutered males may also be attacked by straying Toms, but less frequently than non-neutered males.

The reason I chose to discuss the “straying Tom” issue first is because the biting and the face to face hissing when fighting or mating is a very effective way to spread diseases to your cats – including feline leukemia, upper respiratory viruses, and even rabies. Unfortunately, the category of cats most likely to spread rabies to people is the category least likely to be vaccinated – “barn cats”.

On the average, cats have their kittens about 63 days after mating. Females can become pregnant anytime after they go through puberty, which can occur any time after 5-6 months of age.

The best situation for a cat to become pregnant and have healthy kittens is when she is in good body condition, is free of worms, fleas, and ear mites, and has good immunity against common cat diseases. Owners of pregnant cats should have a good plan for nutrition, parasite control, and vaccinations.

As the birthing time nears, the nutritional requirements to support the developing kittens increases, but a pregnant cat can not eat as much at each feeding because of the pressure against her stomach from the kittens inside her. After the kittens are born, the new mom has to support these growing kittens – a huge nutritional drain on her. Pregnant cats should be fed premium quality kitten food for the last 2 weeks of their pregnancy and continuing until the kittens are weaned.

Science has shown that roundworm eggs live for over 20 years in cement and for many years in dirt. So we can assume that any place that has had cats in the last 10-20 years has roundworm eggs on the premises. Fleas and ear mites are more of a problem when cats congregate for warmth, which is happening in the spring when many cats are pregnant. Many outdoor cats have worms, fleas, and ear mites whether the owners see them or not, and those parasites steal nutrition from pregnant females that are already often marginal from a nutritional standpoint. Pregnant cats should be wormed every two weeks during their pregnancy and both the mom and kittens should be wormed every two weeks until weaning. Moms should be treated for fleas and ear mites monthly through their pregnancy.

The new mother cat passes protection against some diseases through her milk to the kittens. This helps keep kittens from getting sick before their own immune system is strong enough to develop protection (around 4-6 weeks). Mom can’t pass protection against diseases that she is not well protected against herself. Pregnant cats should be current on their rabies vaccinations, and should be booster vaccinated against feline upper respiratory viruses and feline leukemia at about 2 and 5 weeks before birthing.

Pregnant cats should have access to a place that is warm, dry, protected from the wind, and that provides separation from other cats to have their kittens. As long as the kittens are suckling well, it is best for owners to minimize handling them until after their eyes open.

The most common issues we see with kittens are poor nutrition, parasites, and upper respiratory infections. Treating those issues as they occur is important, but the best treatment is prevention – which starts long before they are born!

I hope this information was helpful – let us know if you have any questions!!!

Mon, Tue, Thurs: 7:15am to 6:30pm|Wednesday: 7:15am to 8:30pm|Friday: 7:15am to 5:00pm|Saturday: 8:00am to 2:00pm
EMERGENCIES: Call normal clinic number: (507) 524-3748 and press the button for emergencies (we have a vet on call 24/7).