Postnatal Care of Kittens

The care of kittens after birth is one of the most important tasks to ensure the healthy future of the litter. The first few hours of life are the most crucial for kittens. It determines whether they are healthy or poor and whether they will survive or not. Most of the time, the mother cat's natural instincts will kick in and she will take of her kittens. On other occasions, a mother cat will reject her kittens, or she may be in such a poor state of health that she cannot care for her kittens. This is where human intervention is crucial to the survival of the litter.


Immediately after birth, the mother cat will begin to produce colostrum. Colostrum is a natural protective mechanism which is released through the mother's milk. It contains antibodies which are designed to help protect the litter from disease and illness. The antibodies in the colostrum provide more immunity and protection than any vaccine can at that point in their lives. So, it is very important that the kittens are nursed immediately after birth.

A normal nursing schedule will consist of the mother cat feeding her kittens every one to two hours. When kittens are born, their stomachs are very tiny; which means that they hold very little food and it is digested rather quickly. This is why the mother will feed her kittens so often during the first few weeks of life.

However, if the mother is not feeding her kittens as she should, it is important that you make sure that the kittens are nursed. If you cannot get the mother to nurse her kittens, you will need to purchase a milk replacer and bottle-feed them until they are old enough to eat solid foods.

Protection and Bonding

A crucial part of a kitten’s development comes from the bonding time it has with its mother. Naturally, the mother will want to protect her babies. She may even become defensive about outside help or human attention to her kittens. This is a completely normal behavior and it should not be reprimanded or mistreated. If a mother is protective about her kittens, be sure to leave them quietly in peace. As long as they are being kept warm and fed, you should always allow the mother to bond with her kittens as she sees fit.

Also, you should not be alarmed if you see the mother cat eating the excretion of her kittens. A mother cat likes to maintain a clean and healthy nest for her kittens and she will view the presence of feces as a possible means of contaminating or infecting her kittens.

Vaccination and Worming

The kittens will not be old enough right after birth to be vaccinated or wormed. That being said, vaccinations should not be given until at least eight weeks of age, and worming treatment should not be given until at least three weeks of age. Giving a kitten any type of treatment prior to those ages will do more harm than good and can even cause fatality.

The important thing to make sure of is that the kittens are vaccinated and wormed at the appropriate time. The colostrum from their mother's milk will provide them with a limited amount of protection that will be sufficient for their first few weeks of life. After that time period, the colostrum will no longer be effective and outside treatment will be necessary.