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Find out about what to do after your cat gives birth and postnatal cat care in our free guide.

My cat has just given birth, what do I do now?

After your cat gives birth, it’s really important to keep a close eye on her and her kittens to make sure they’re all happy and thriving. Your cat will naturally provide her kittens with all they need, so try to keep your distance if you can so she can settle into motherhood.

After your cat has given birth, you will need to:

  • keep the room she and her kittens are in warm
  • make sure their bedding is kept clean and dry
  • keep the room they are in quiet and don’t allow family members to keep disturbing her
  • keep an eye on the kittens to make sure they are feeding but try to keep at a distance your cat is comfortable with. Take a look at our cat body language guide for the signs your cat wants you to stay away
  • keep other pets away from your cat and her kittens
  • make sure the kittens are feeding – this should start almost immediately after birth. If they haven’t started after half an hour, gently guide them

If you’re worried at all, call your vet as they can advise you.

Very rarely, your cat might struggle to care for her kittens. If they are not feeding well, you may need to speak to your vet about possibly hand-rearing them. You can read more about hand-rearing in our free guide.

When to call the vet

While a lot of cats will have a perfectly healthy birth, there are some problems that could happen you should keep an eye out for. These are:

  • bleeding from the vagina or unusual vaginal discharge
  • prolapse of the uterus (womb) – straining can occasionally cause the uterus to be pushed out
  • mastitis – infection of a mammary gland that becomes hot, painful and engorged. The queen may be off colour
  • poor appetite, excessive drinking or vomiting
  • awkward or clumsy movement, twitching or collapsing

If you notice any of these problems call your vet straight away.

You cat’s behaviour after birth

Most cats will take to mothering their kittens very naturally. You might notice your cat:

  • licking her newborn kittens, nuzzling them and purring
  • moving her kittens. If she feels unsafe for any reason, or if where she currently is isn’t warm enough for her, she may choose to move her kittens. Don’t stop her from doing this, instead try to provide a quiet, comfortable and warm area for her to move to
  • behaving differently towards you. Cats are very protective of their kittens, so she might prefer you to keep your distance at first

A slight change in behaviour is normal for your cat after she has given birth, but she will settle after a few weeks.

Sometimes your cat’s behaviour is a cause for concern and this is when you’ll want to give your vet a call. Some things to look out for (and ways to help your cat and her kittens) include:

  • severe disturbance, constant interruptions or pain can cause the queen to kill her offspring. The risk of this is reduced if mum is familiar with her environment, the surroundings are quiet and she is in good health. Be very calm and quiet and do not disturb a mother with very young kittens unless necessary
  • if the queen seems to ignore or reject one of her kittens, putting some of the birthing fluids on the kitten may help her to accept them

What should I feed my cat after she has given birth?

Your cat will need lots of the right nutrients to keep her and her kittens healthy and strong. As she’s supporting her kittens while they are still nursing, she’ll need a food that’s higher in calories, fat, protein and is easy to digest.

It’s best to feed your cat a good quality kitten food while she is nursing her kittens. This will make sure she’s getting plenty of nutrients to support their development and growth, and make the weaning process easier when the time comes. Read more about weaning in our kitten care guide.

When can I touch my cat’s newborn kittens?

At first, it’s usually best to avoid touching your cat’s newborn kittens if you can. She will be very protective over them and might not want you touching, so it’s best to respect her space unless something is wrong. Sometimes, handling newborns too much can cause their mother to reject them.

After a couple of weeks, if your cat is happy for you to do so, you might be able to gently stroke the new kittens. It’s important to start socialising the kittens from week two and some of this will involve handling them.

How to socialise kittens

If your cat is struggling, unwell or has rejected any of her kittens, you may need to intervene and handle them sooner. You should do so very gently and look at our hand-rearing guide for more advice.

How soon after birth can my cat go outside again?

Newborn kittens need to feed every two to three hours, so it’s likely your cat won’t want to leave them for the first week or so. They also rely on her for protection and warmth, so she’ll need to stay close to them.

Once the kittens are a little more independent she will be able to go outside again. However, an unneutered female can get pregnant again as soon as two weeks after giving birth while her litter is still reliant on her, so it may be best to try to keep her indoors until the kittens are ready to go to new homes when they are at least eight weeks old.

We’d recommend getting your cat neutered as this will prevent any unwanted litters. Talk to your vet about when is the best time and read our free neutering advice.

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