New kittens are curious and may become quite mobile before they understand basic safety, but kitten containment strategies can help keep them safe while they explore. Learn how to play back-up for the mother cat so you can work together to keep the kittens from roaming far and wide.
Kitten, Kitten, Roaming Kitten
Several columns ago, I wrote about a mother cat, called a Queen, having kittens on a bed and what to do with them. Now, the kittens have their eyes open and are old enough to start moving around on their own. So, what can you do now to try to contain them?
If your kittens are only a few weeks old, they won't see too many shapes because their eyes are still developing. So in theory, they won't be going too far on their own. However, their mom may still move them around, so try not to make her mad. Usually a queen wants the safest place she can find for her kittens. The other day, my friend Ruthie told me that the queen at her house actually moved her kittens no less than five times before she stopped!
How to Contain Kittens When All They Want to Do Is Explore
How do you keep the little dears from cruising around the house? Let me give you a clue; a gate won't work. They will just climb up and over it. A very large box works well, but you need enough room for the queen to lie down comfortably if she is still nursing them. If you are using this method, make sure you have a good supply of boxes on hand. If the sides on the box are too short, the kittens will tip it over when they stand on their hind legs. An ideal size to use is about 24 inches long by 18 inches wide, with a height of at least 18 inches. The nice thing about using a cardboard box is that you can get rid of it after the kittens are large enough, and they don't need to be watched constantly.
There are also cat play pens you can purchase at your local pet shop. The base is about two feet by three feet, with a four foot height. This works well because these units come with shelves, and the queen can get away from the kittens whenever she wants. This gives the kittens enough space, and because the floor space is so large, you can even place a small cat litter box and food and water dishes in the bottom. This is a great situation to keep the kittens confined safely, and their mother can be let out when she has had enough of them.
This set up will also give the queen an opportunity to teach the kittens to use the litter box and eat solid food. The retail price of this item varies by style, but figure you'll spend as much as $200.00 for one. The biggest challenge with this unit is deciding what to do with it after the kittens are big enough to be let out of the play area.
Before purchasing, make sure you have enough space to:
- Set up the unit
- Store it if you decide to take it down
An old dog crate can also serve the same purpose quite well, as long as it is large and the bottom of the crate has a pan, not just a wire bottom. You don't want the kittens to accidentally get a paw stuck between the wires. Just make sure the crate has enough floor space for the kittens. You can line the bottom of the cage with disposable newspapers, or use old towels or blankets that can be laundered when they get dirty.Don't forget to kitten-proof the house, but that's a topic for another column…
"Remember the animals in your life are not just your pets they're your friends" WNR