What is kitten season?
Kitten season begins around April and ends around October.
When the weather begins to turn warmer bringing all of nature to life, it also stimulates your cat to want to breed if they are not neutered.
The female, (queen) will go “into heat” and behave differently than usual. She will call out frequently for a mate and probably become quite vocal compared to her usual self, even sounding as if she is in pain. She will want to be allowed outside to find a mate and may travel out further than her usual roaming.
There will be lots of rolling around, your cat may rub against you more frequently than normal and there is also one behaviour you won’t miss which is when the female will lift her rear end while lowering her back and will be extra sensitive around the tail area. Her behaviour will be akin to flirtatious behaviour and she will be more affectionate.
Male and female cats will be very vocal as they are “calling out to each other” to find a mate, however, the males tend to be pushier and demanding with their behaviour and excessive caterwauling. They will also increase their urine spraying and get into more fights in order to reach a female in heat.
A female cat can come into season as early as 4 to 5 months old so it is important to take steps to have them neutered at around this age to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to safeguard your pet from being ambushed by aggressive males in heat.
Female cats are able to be mated by more than one male in a short period of time and can include relatives like the father or brother of your cat which is another reason to protect your cat by neutering early. When this happens you will see different coloured kittens in the litter which will have different fathers.
Shelters and Rescue Centres
Due to the coronavirus and lockdown, rescue centres and animal shelters are expecting a huge influx in kittens needing homes this year and urge people who want kittens to reach out and rehome kittens from shelters rather than allow their cats to breed unnecessarily and risk harm.
With new kittens comes new responsibilities and many cat owners are simply not prepared for the changes they will bring and also sometimes struggle to find homes for their little fluff bombs. This inevitably leads to more kittens being dropped off at the rescue centres and the centres becoming overcrowded and struggling with finding funding and donations to keep up.
Having kittens is an adorable time for anyone who loves cats and it is definitely an exciting time to be a cat aunt or uncle to the new arrivals.
Your female cat will have found herself a secure hideaway for herself and her kittens where they will not be disturbed too much and where she will feel safe somewhere in your home. You must allow her this place to feel safe as she has selected this space after careful consideration and will trust you to look out for her.
Choosing the right Cat Litter
Within a few weeks, you will need to make preparations for the kittens to “leave the nest” or simply go roaming around the room/area. You will want to invest in good quality cat litter that is especially designed for kittens who are prone to eating litter when they are very young.
We recommend Premium Tofu Cat Litter which is made from 100% natural ingredients corn and pea fibre (tofu), that dissolves in water and is safe if ingested by kittens due to their being no toxicity in the product and it being organic and safe for consumption.
This litter is also flushable making flushing away the tiny cat poop a breeze. It lasts 3 – 4 times longer than other litters and is kind to the environment and your cat.
In a week your kittens will have doubled in weight, eyes will start opening and their concentration will be mainly on food.
Remember, the first 6 weeks are the most important in determining their character and personality for the rest of their lives.
Their eyes generally open after the first 9 to 10 days naturally and are blue for the first few weeks. Never try to pry the eyes open before they open naturally as this could cause damage to your kittens’ eyesight and be very painful for them too.
Vision will be blurred at first so protect your kitten from any bright lights. Their sense of smell will be developing at this time too and they will be enjoying the new sensations that come with smells but may hiss at a smell unfamiliar to them or one they do not like.
It may be possible to identify what sex your kittens may be at this time but even vets have been known to get it wrong at this early stage.
By the 3rd week, your kittens’ ear canals will have fully opened and you will notice their new awareness of you and the sounds around them.
Their digestive system will also be developing well and they will be able to eliminate fluids easily. At this time your kitten will also show an interest in you and their siblings and want to explore further.
Development continues quickly and by the 4th week your kitten will have a full perception of depth, their sense of smell will be fully developed and they will interact more with their siblings and engage in “play”. They will have stopped stumbling and be able to walk confidently and at week 4 you will be able to see their baby teeth coming through
Time for changes!! Your kitten will be just about ready to try real food by week 5.
Recommended kitten foods that have been specially formulated for young kittens are readily available but we do recommend you stick with kitten foods and not introduce adult cat food to them at this stage as the formula for kitten foods are different due to the requirements of young growing cats.
This is also a good time to introduce your kittens to the litter tray. Use a small kitten size litter tray where your kitten can easily get in and out of and place it in an area where they can easily get to it and won’t be disturbed or frightened. Place approximately 1 inch of litter in the tray for their ease.
As kittens (like babies) like to eat everything they see when they are young, we would recommend Premium Tofu Cat Litter as it is safe if ingested and formulated for kittens.
This is when you get to enjoy the delights of having a kitten or kittens in the home. At week 6 they are ready to socialise and play, run and hide, climb and pounce.
It is truly a wonderful time providing you have not frightened your kitten, allowed them to be curious and follow their mum’s lead in socialising with you. They will follow their mother’s lead and learn from her. If she has a good relationship with you then they will try to follow suit.
If your kitten seems afraid of you or comes across as overly shy, it may take them a little longer to socialise and patience on your part is required.
Remember that with all the running, pouncing and playing, your kitten will become tired very quickly and it is common for your kitten to fall asleep quite suddenly and often, sometimes even when you are holding them in your hand.
Allow them all the rest they need and exercise lots of patience as it is only a matter of time before they come bouncing willingly on to your lap.
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