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
For the first weeks following birth, kittens are fairly low-maintenance as the mother cat, called a queen, cares for them. But the kittens now have their eyes open and are old enough to start moving around on their own. So, what can you do 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 go too far on their own. However, their mom may still move them around, so try not to make them mad. Usually, a queen wants the safest place they can find for their kittens. Don't be alarmed if your mother cat moves the kittens numerous times in a short period.
How to Contain Kittens When All They Want to Do Is Explore
How do you keep the little dears from cruising around the house? No, unfortunately, a gate won't work. Kittens will just climb up and over it. There are a few containment methods you can try.
A very large box works well, but you need enough room for the queen to lie down comfortably if they are still nursing. 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 don't need to be watched constantly.
There are also cat play pens you can purchase at your local pet shop. The base of most pens is about 2 feet by 3 feet, with a 4-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 setup to keep the kittens confined safely, and their mother can be let out when she has had enough of them.
This setup 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 expect you'll spend as much as $200 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 get a paw stuck between the wires accidentally. 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.
Keep Kittens Safe and Mother Cat Peaceful
Creating a safe space where your kittens are contained is important, both for their safety and the wellbeing of your mother cat. With the right setup, they can come and go as they please while the kittens stay out of harm's way.