What is a nesting box?
The nesting box is a box where your pregnant cat will give birth in and care for her litter of kittens in the first few weeks of life.
Set up the nesting box two weeks before the cat is due so that she can settle in. Don’t force her to stay in the box at first, just slowly introduce it to her, making it as comfortable as possible. Place her food/water bowls and litter tray in the room.
Place the box in a quiet room, a home office, bathroom or spare room are ideal.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the queen will refuse to use her nesting box in preference of another location. If this happens, close off close doors to other parts of the house to prevent her switching locations. If she seemingly shows a preference for one room, as long as it is suitable, consider moving the box. Some queens like to still be near their owners; others would rather be on their own in the early weeks of motherhood.
The nesting box
The box should be large enough to accommodate the queen so that she stand up and turn around and accommodate her litter (once they arrive).
A sturdy cardboard box is perfect; the box should be enclosed on all sides, with a hole cut out at the front for the queen to climb in and out of.
When cutting out the hole, raise it approximately 9 inches so that the newborn kittens can’t roll out. Another option for a nesting box is a new enclosed litter tray, with the clear plastic door removed. The advantage of this is that it can be cleaned out if necessary. Don’t use an old litter tray.
Line the bottom of the box with a 1-inch layer of newspapers, on top of that, place an absorbent puppy training pad and cover with soft, clean blankets or towels. Soiled bedding should be removed after the birth and disposed or laundered. Regularly replace with clean/fresh bedding.
Add a heating pad to the nesting box if the litter is due in the cooler months. Make sure it doesn’t cover the entire bottom surface, so they can move away from the heat if necessary. Check that the temperature isn’t too hot.