With a litter of kittens on the way, it's important you feel prepared and confident for when the day arrives. If you choose to have a home birth, then there are a number of simple but essential things you can do to make sure your cat is happy, healthy and able to give birth in a stress-free environment.
Preparing your home for your cat to give birth
Ideally, your pregnant cat should be allowed to have a room or space to herself at the end of her pregnancy. Queens (female cats) can become aggressive in the final two weeks of their gestation, so isolate her and keep her away from children. The room needs to be quite warm—around 72°F—to help her feel comfortable and reduce the risk of hypothermia, and ideally needs to have 65-70% humidity.
You should put together a nesting box where your queen can give birth. This can be a cardboard box that's big enough for her to lie down in and with tall enough sides so the kittens won't fall out. Line it with plastic and then newspaper, which is easily removed if it becomes soiled, and cover it with a blanket.
The nesting box should be warmer than the rest of the room to support the kittens when they are at their most fragile during the first few days of life. An infra-red lamp is a good way to do this as it doesn't direct heat too harshly in one area, and it should be set to 86°F.
How to tell when your cat is going into labor
You might not notice the first stages of your cat's labor, as there are no visible contractions. Instead, she will seem restless, and exhibit strange behavior like constantly following—or avoiding—you. She'll also be very vocal and often over-groom herself.
When she is nearly ready to give birth, she will scratch and settle into the nesting box, and start a loud purring. Once you notice a reddish discharge has been emitted, it won't be long until the first kittens and their placentas begin to appear—normally in less than an hour.