With the ongoing crisis caused by coronavirus, we should not be forgetting that we are entering the warmer months of the year which does bring with it the so-called kitten season.
What is Kitten Season?
Kitten season is a term used to describe the period in which cats predominantly breed and give birth. Although cats can breed nearly all year around, Kitten Season tends to run from April to late autumn. Unfortunately, many of these pregnant cats will be stray cats that get rescued by individuals and charities around this time of the year.
So what can you do if you end up fostering a pregnant stray cat about to give birth or one that has already given birth?
Get everything you’ll need
It’s important that you provide for everything the expecting mother needs, and there are some things you’ll have to buy for them. Here’s our checklist of essentials:
- A warm and comfortable bed
- A litter tray and litter
- A scratching post
- Stainless steel, glass or ceramic food and water bowls
- A range of cat toys
- A carrier
- Food that suits their needs
Helping them to settle in
Although the mother may only be living with you temporarily while you foster them and look for new homes for the kittens you will need to ensure that her and her kitten settle in well.
The kittens will need to socialise and get used to human contact in order to make great family companions later on and to do that you need to ensure that the mother settles in and trains her litter how to be a truly loving family cat!
- If possible, set aside some space — or even a room — where you can keep everything your cat will need, such as its litter tray, food and bed.
- When you first let them into your house it is especially advisable to let them acclimatise in a single room. You do not know what happened to the stray cat before you found them so they may be wary of human contact.
- Give them plenty of time to adjust. They might not be as sociable or playful as you would like to begin with. But, as long as they’re eating and using their litter tray, there’s no need to worry.
Look out for signs of stress!
As this is a new enviroment for your foster cat they may show signs of stress for which you should keep an eye out:
- Lack of interaction
- Loss of appetite
What can you do to mitigate the stress?
Ensure you setup a safe hiding place in their room. This can be anything from a proper bed to a little den build out of a cover and a chair. Something that they feel safe in!
All interactions with your foster cat should be positive. Give her treats… gently play with her and if she lets you give her some cuddles. All of this should be taken in baby steps tho and your foster cat should not be rushed to like you!
Additionally, it is a good idea to get a calming aid to help relax your new feline friend.
There are a variety of calming products out on the market that can help your companion to relax a little while they get used to this potentially long-term change in their humans’ behaviour.
Our preferred product is Pet Remedy as this isn’t species-specific but works on a wide range of pets from dogs to cats but also for rabbits, birds and reptiles. Unlike other products that use a species pheromone to impact your companion, Pet Remedy is completely natural and works with your pet’s own natural calming mechanisms by mimicking GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is a natural calming agent present in all mammals, birds, and reptiles. So when a pet becomes stressed or anxious Pet Remedy helps trick fired-up nerve cells into thinking they are getting a message from the brain to calm. This is why it starts to help instantly.
While you can not currently purchase it directly from Pet Remedy due to COVID-19 it is still available in pet shops and via various online retailers and our own webshop.
What is in Pet Remedy?
The formulation is predominantly Valerian oil based, with small inclusions of Vetiver, Sweet Basil, and Clary Sage essential oils.
- Valerian absolute oil which is obtained by cold extraction from the rhizomes of the plant, Valeriana Of cinalis, and has been used for centuries as an effective and safe calming agent.
- Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) which is a tough, aromatic grass which belongs to the same botanical family as lemongrass, citronella and palmarosa. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the roots. Vetiver has been appreciated for its calming properties since records began.
- Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an aromatic herb with lush green leaves. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves and the flowering tops. Sweet Basil essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy for its calming effect.
- Clary Sage (Salvia Sclaria) is a biennial herb, native to the Mediterranean region. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the buds and leaves. Clary Sage has been praised throughout history as a medicinal plant, particularly for its calming properties.
Especially the plug-in version of Pet Remedy is a great way to help create a calming atmosphere for your foster cat. 🙂
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