REARING RAGDOLL KITTENS
The first sign that your queen is pregnant is when she has ‘pinked’ up (her nipples should be visibly growing and look quite pink). This is usually obvious between weeks 3/4. You may also notice that she sleeps a bit more during the early stages and again at the later stage, especially just before she goes into labour.
You must ensure that she has plenty of food and let her eat as much as she wants, remembering always to have fresh water available.
The gestation period for Ragdolls is approximately 65 days, but do keep an eye on her from day 63 onwards. If she hasn’t gone into labour by day 71, it may be wise to have her examined by your vet.
It is always wise to try and be there when your queen goes into labour. Most females like to know that their owner is there beside them giving them encouragement. It also means if there should be any complications you can deal with them as and when they arise.
As a rule by instinct the queen should know what to do, but there are always exceptions when it’s a maiden queen. Once the first kitten is born she should begin washing it’s face to clear the nasal passages – if she doesn’t you must clean its mouth and nose so that it can breath. She will most likely wait until the afterbirth has come away before she breaks the umbilical cord. (Don’t be surprised – it can take up to half an hour for the afterbirth to come through and occasionally the second kitten may be born before the first afterbirth, so do check that with each kitten there is an afterbirth). If she doesn’t appear to know what to do, you should intervene and cut the cord for her – but not too close to the kitten’s tummy. Make sure you have sterilised the scissors beforehand and dab the end of the cord with a little medicated talc.
Once all kittens have safely arrived and the queen is purring contentedly and her kittens are suckling, it is wise to leave them for a few hours to bond before changing the bedding. It is often very tempting to change everything and to ensure all is spotlessly clean as we would in a human birth, but cats are different and they need to settle for a few hours before we interfere!!
From experience Ragdolls get too hot if a heated pad is used and they begin panting. They may get restless and not want to stay with the litter. If this should happen, switch off the heated pad, but make sure the room is warm and free from draughts.
A Guide to Average weights for kittens
Weighing the kittens, say from day 2, is the best way to check that all is going well, as they should be gaining a little each day. The average weight of a 1 week old kitten is approx 6-7 oz; 2 weeks approx 9-11oz; 3 weeks 10-13oz; 4 weeks 12-15oz; and by the time they are 1 month old, as a guide approximately 1lb. At 2 months old they should weigh somewhere between 1lb 13oz – 2lb 3 oz and at 3 months between 3lbs and 4lbs. These are approximate weights – some kittens will weigh more at a certain age, and others will weigh less – do not worry as long as each kitten is gaining regularly.
Supplimentary Feeding and Hand Rearing:
The following FAB page is a helpful source of information.
NB: We would never ever recommend tube feeding young kittens unless you are experienced enough to do so. It is a highly dangerous thing to attempt by a novice breeder, can be fatal for the kitten if not administered properly and is a procedure best left to the professionals.
This is often a matter of much concern! How do I tell the difference? It is often very obvious if sexing kittens take place immediately after birth. However this is not always possible and once the fur is dry things can be more difficult. Here are two photos which should help! You will see that two openings on the little boy are much further apart whilst the little girls’ are much closer together!
Not all kittens wean at the same time. Usually somewhere between weeks 4-6 the kittens will show signs either by tucking into their mother’s food or by enjoying whatever you are giving them. They usually all love steamed white fish, chicken, mince, kitten Felix/Whiskers or one of the proprietary dried foods such as kitten Hills Science, Royal Canin Baby Cat which has all the added vitamins and minerals a kitten needs to form strong, healthy bones. By 12 – 15 weeks, if you are using one of the proprietary brands of dried foods most will have graduated onto it by then. Remember, a kitten’s stomach is tiny and it is not wise to introduce too many different foods at one time, because if they cannot tolerate a particular food, or it makes them loose, you will have to ascertain which food it is.
Remember to change the vet bedding in the kittening pen each day as it will be soiled with urine, granted only a little, but enough that the ammonia could affect the kittens’ eyes. The easiest way to start toilet training is to put a small litter tray into the kittening pen beside them from week 3/4 onwards, and lift them into it daily, gently moving their front paws in a scratching motion to give them the idea; their mum usually teaches them what to do. Kittens who are penned are probably easiest to train, but as breeders we each have our own methods and some prefer their kittens to have more freedom once they are able to run about. Patience is the watchword – don’t worry if it doesn’t happen for a week or two, you just have to persevere.
Kittens should be wormed at 6 weeks, 9 weeks and 12 weeks And the vet will advise the best preparation to use.
Assessing the Litter
All kittens are adorable and Ragdoll kittens especially so, as by week 2 they resemble miniature teddy bears, but when it comes to assessing their potential one must be objective. The best time to assess the kittens is at around 9/10 weeks old once the eye colour has settled. Compare each kitten to the Standard of Points, and do be honest about whether they conform. Ragdolls shouldn’t have sharp features like narrow muzzles or pointed chins. Their limbs should look chunky and heavy boned. The overall appearance from head to tail should be balanced.
Remember, a cat you wish to sell as a future stud should conform closely to the SOP and have show potential, as should a show/breeding queen and a show neuter; a breeding queen should also conform, but she may have a minor pattern fault which would preclude her from getting awards if judged. It is imperative that kittens who have any defects, as listed in the preface to the GCCF SOP booklet, such as tail kinks, squints, protruding sternums, flat chests, dermoid cysts, etc should not be bred from and should be sold as pets.
Preparing the kitten for its new Home
To try and make the transition as easy as possible when your kitten leaves to go to its new home, the following points should help.
Prepare a leaflet giving details of what food your kittens are on and what type of litter they are used to. A good idea is to provide a few tins or a small bag of dried food and a bag of litter for them to take home, so that the kitten continues on that at least for the first couple of weeks until it adjusts to its new surroundings. You might also consider giving it a favourite blanket when it leaves home, so that it has a familiar smell to comfort it, especially its first night away.
Explain that Ragdoll’s coats are easy to groom, but must be done regularly, especially at moulting time, so that they don’t get knots or hairballs by digesting loose hairs.