Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My pregnant cat is due with her first (and only!) litter about a week before we are moving 2-1/2 hours away. Moving is a stressful time for all animals and I don’t know what I should do to help keep Momma feel safe and secure with her new babies. Any thoughts?
Thomas: Well, Kelly, it sounds like you and your family are going to be undergoing quite the change in the next few weeks. But fear not: we have a few tips for you on how you can make it easier for momma cat and her newborn kittens.
Bella: First of all, you’re going to need to provide her with a kittening box. You’d need to do this anyway, even if you weren’t moving, because your momma will want to have a place where she and her kittens can be safe.
Tara: Usually we’d recommend something like a cardboard box lined with towels. But since you’re going to be moving, we’d recommend that you get a good-sized plastic pet carrier, probably one sized for a medium dog around 30 pounds. You should buy this new so it doesn’t have dog smells on it.
Thomas: Hey Tara, is that you? Can I come and visit? Please?
Thomas: Oh, come on, Tara, you’re a brave kitty, I know it.
Tara: Maybe later.
Bella: Anyway, Kelly … you will, of course, want to make sure this pet carrier fits in your car; otherwise it’s not going to do you, momma and her kittens any good.
Thomas: Take the top and door off the carrier, line it with towels, and put it in a dark and calm place in your home. We might suggest your bedroom, if that’s fairly quiet.
Bella: A day or two before the kittens are born, momma cat is going to start getting anxious and restless. She’s going to start seriously looking for a place where she can give birth.
Tara: At this point you’ll want to confine momma to the room where you want her to give birth. Make sure she has a litter box, food and water in there, of course.
Thomas: She’ll probably choose the dog crate naturally since it seems like a good place, but you’ll want to make sure she sees it and that you give her lots of love and quiet praise when she gets in there.
Bella: The vast majority of kitten deliveries go fine and you shouldn’t have to do anything to help her along. But do monitor her and make sure. The one thing you might see is that she delivers a couple of kittens, pauses for a while, and delivers more. But if you see her laboring for more than an hour and no kitten is being delivered, a call to the vet is definitely in order!
Tara: That said, Mama’s seen a good 10 litters of kittens being delivered with absolutely zero complications, so don’t worry too much about that.
Thomas: On moving day, put the door and the top back on the dog crate (with mama and kittens inside, of course) and move the little family into a room where they won’t be disturbed while you’re packing and getting stuff outside and into the truck. A bathroom is usually a good choice for this.
Bella: When you get to your new home, put the crate with momma and kittens in the bathroom again, and set it up with her litter box, water and food. Open the door to the crate and let momma out to do her business and eat.
Tara: Once you’ve got the bedroom unpacked and arranged, bring the crate with the kittens in there and set it up again in a quiet place. Even if momma’s not in the crate when you do this, she will follow her kittens!
Thomas: The most important thing for you to do is remain as calm as possible through all this chaos. We cats pick up on your feelings, and if you’re freaking out, so will we.
Bella: Once momma is settled in with her kittens, everything should proceed just fine. And of course, you’ll want to establish a relationship with a vet in your new home town so that you can have her spayed as soon as the kittens are weaned.
Tara: And of course, you’ll want to make sure that your kitten also have their baby checkups. You’ll want to discuss a vaccination schedule that works to both prevent disease and prevent unnecessary overvaccination.
Thomas: We hope this helps, Kelly. Best of luck to you and your kitty family on your upcoming move.
Bella: What about you other readers? Have you had to move with newborn kittens? Have you fostered kittens for a shelter? Do you have any other tips that can help Kelly and her cats during their upcoming move? Please share your thoughts in the comments!