Breeding A Litter
maybe fun, never simple

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Every breeder has his or her own way to accommodate kittens. It is not so that only one way is the right way and that every other way is wrong. Depending on your personal situation a solution could work for you that does not work for somebody else. For example: some people swear by a kitten cage, while others detest it. Listen to what everybody has to say, and then try to pick from the jungle of opinions and well meant advises what works best for you.

Several circumstances that determine the way kittens will be housed are: your house, the available attributes in your area (some products that are available in Europe are not available in America and vice versa) and the animals in your home. For instance: you can make the most beautiful birthing box that ever existed, but still the female can decides she wants to deliver on your bed rather then in the birthing box. Then all you can do is run to the linen-cupboard, grab some towels and try to save your mattress.

It can also be difficult to persuade a female that the kittens are safest in the kitten cage. Some females will stay in one place with their kittens, others will move their kittens around all the time. If the female has decided she wants out of the kitten cage, let go outside. You don not have to give in to her all the time, for instance placing the kittens on top of a cupboard is not a clever move. But if the female wants her kittens to grow up under your bed and not in a kitten cage, then let her do so and make her as comfortable as possible under the bed. That way Mom is happy, and that makes her a better mother to the kittens.

Below you can see some examples and tips of do-it-yourself projects that other breeders made. These are not examples you have to copy into detail, it is meant to give you inspiration.

Kitten box

There are handles at the sides of this kitten cage so it can easily be moved from one place to another. You can also choose to add small wheels under the kitten cage. Please make sure there is a brake on the wheels, so the cage doesn't move from one side to the other when the female jumps in or out the cage. Photo credit: Annemiek Frieswijk.

Kitten box

Very often cats want to eat the food that is not meant for them. If you give the kittens kitten food, especially the older cats will dig in enthusiastically. A feeding cage like this one has a small hole at the side, so only the small kittens can enter the cage and eat the food you place inside. This of course does not prevent the kittens from joining their parents and eating the adult food. Photo credit: Annemiek Frieswijk.

Kitten box

The kittens can grow up in a playpen placed in the livingroom, without getting themselves in all kind of problems. (Like getting stuck behind the refrigerator, or getting an electric shock because they bit through electric wires.) This playpen is made from plastified elements, and a piece of linoleum serves as a floor. Photo credit: Traci Jones.

Kitten box

Often people use a cardboard box as a birthing box. This can be very handy, since you can throw it away after the delivery and you do not need to clean it afterwards. However, remember that boxes that contained fruit are often treated with pesticides! That's why the use of cardboard boxes is dissuaded. This birthing box was bought at IKEA. It is made of plastic and is very easy to clean. Photo credit: Riëtte van Beek.

You can also buy collapsible pet homes, they look like small tents. These too can be used as a birthing box, kitten cage etc. The advantage is that when you don't use them, you can fold them into small packages that are easy to store. The disadvantage is that these pet homes usually are expensive.

For the birthing box/kitten cage or wherever the kittens are lying, it is best if you use white fabric as lining. Most moms are very good cleaners, and they clean their babies immediately when they get dirty. This is of course a very good thing, but if a kitten has abnormal stools, it might take a while before you realize something is wrong. White sheets or pillowcases have the advantage that you can see the stains left behind from the stool and you can tell whether the color of it is normal.

For litter boxes you can also look for other solutions then the expensive options the pet store will offer you. Check out department stores if they have baby bathtubs or laundry baskets that you can use for litter boxes. Kittens do not need a very large litter box, they cannot climb in a large litter box anyway. Use a small tub for the kittens where at one side you cut out a hole so the kittens can get in and out, or maybe you can use a tray with a raised border.

Then of course in every cat household there should be a scratching post. Cats do not care if it is a beautiful post, they want to be able to sharpen their nails. You do not need to spend hundreds of euro's to have something that will make your cats happy. Creative do-it-yourself projects with wood, sisal rope and leftover pieces of carpet will do just nicely. Just make sure there are no nails or staples sticking out.