Okay, here's the story on isolating a queen two weeks before delivery. At first the queen, especially a first-time mother, will complain vociferously about being locked in the bedroom. For one thing, she usually thinks you've just forgotten about her and left her there. But after a few days of being fed in that room, of having you play with her every day in there, and so on, she realizes she hasn't been "forgotten" in there, that she is going to be living in there for a while and will settle down. It's important to go in several times a day to play with her and talk to her, also give her special treats, so she has something to look forward to. Also, give the queen a lot of new toys to play around with by herself. There are interactive toys you can give them, also cat furniture to climb on while in the room - lots of ways to make the confinement not so bad. Remember by 7 weeks gestation, they are getting BIG and aren't all that active. It's not like confining a kitten. Experienced queens know the drill and they settle down immediately. They KNOW they are going to give birth soon and that they won't be in that room forever. It's no worse than what a human female goes through during the perinatal period, I think.
Set up their nesting box. Early in the pregnancy they don't have much nesting instinct, but by seven or eight weeks they will have a strong nesting instinct and will appreciate being given a nice box hidden in some secluded spot, covered with a sheet on the outside, and inside lots of deep drifts of shredded paper or fabric to dig in. The office paper shredder really comes in handy. :-) You can tell the queen has been visiting the kitten box by how much the shredded paper has been moved around each day. :-) They often go into the nesting box and just purr, purr, purr.
A very experienced breeder once told me that when she first started out, she used to let the other cats or human family come into the room to visit the queen and new kittens often. That's when her queens used to move their kittens a lot. I don't know for sure, but it's possible that if she had kept visitors *completely* away from her queen for the
two weeks before her delivery and during the several weeks after the kittens were born - that her queen would not have moved her kittens, or not so frequently. You see, if they spend two weeks in complete isolation before they give
birth, by the time the kittens are born they KNOW that no other cats or monsters can get to the kittens. But if they are put in the kitten room at the last minute or isolation is not complete, then they have much more cause to believe that cats/monsters can get access to their beloved babies. That's my experience anyway. It's possible my friend's queen would have moved her kittens some no matter what because that cat was a bit of an overprotective mom. I came to visit when the kittens were about 6 weeks old and I could see how much the queen was still hovering watchfully nearby. Not all catmoms are so intense. But I know people with queens who used to have a lot of problems with them moving kittens and that stopped when they began isolating them completely two weeks prior to delivery.
The Kittening box: For the first three weeks or so, the kitten box should have an opening on its SIDE, not on top. A box with an opening on top is NOT for birthing kittens. The huge box with the opening on top is more of a play pen for kittens three weeks old or older. Remember that newborn kittens can't walk, so all you need is a much smaller box with an opening on the side. Cover the box with a couple layers of old towels or sheets. That gives the box insulation to keep it warmer and the covering forms a draping curtain that blocks most of the entry into the box. You want the entry to be a narrow slot or hole because the queen will feel the kittens are safer that way. OTOH, when YOU need to get to the kittens it will be easy to pull the "curtains" to the side and have a good view of the babies and mom in there.
The best kittening boxes are big enough for the queen to lie down and stretch out, roll over, but only BARELY that big. It has to be small enough to hold heat efficiently and to feel cozy. If the box is too big, the queen may reject the box and deliver (or later move) the kittens to another part of the room. A cardboard box the size of the lids you buy for jumbo litter boxes is about perfect.
Place the heating pad UNDER the box, but on only ONE side of the box, as Mom may need to be off the heat sometimes then cover the heating pad with a vinyl tablecloth. Place the box on top of the tablecloth, then place old towels, sheets or other clean material inside the box. Don't fold things neatly, let them be jumbled all up.
It's VERY VERY important to isolate the queen in the same place where the kittening box is located, and that MUST be in a secluded area away from the regular traffic and activity of your home. A dark corner in my upstairs bedroom is my own choice because I can close the door and isolate my queen, but the back of a closet is an excellent choice, too, so long as there is an electrical outlet there for the heating pad, a light and a digital scale. Make sure the outlet can take at least two plugs - you may also want to get an adapter which allows multiple plugs - because you will need to plug in (1) the heating pad, (2) a lamp to help you see the kittens when you are visiting them or weighing them, and (3) possibly a plug for a digital scale if you have one of those.
If you have heavy furniture items in your chosen kitten room that have spaces in them or under them where kittens could be hidden or trapped, then you should do one of the following:
(1) move the furniture out of that room for the next 12 weeks or so :-)
(2) block the open spaces with suitable material, such as a line of heavy boxes filled with books and covered with lids, a homemade wall made of plywood, or just cardboard. You can duct-tape cardboard into place and it will work well, but be aware that when the tape is pulled off it will remove finish if it's lacquered or painted wood. Duct tape can work fine (no damage) if you are taping cardboard over a laminated wood, metal or plain plastic furniture item.
(3) mount the furniture/bed on wheels so you can easily move it and reclaim the kittens whenever you need to.
You should also have on hand the following list of stuff in case you need it:
Heating pad (I found one at PetsMart for $29, it's about 6" x 20")
1 roll plain paper towels
1 box plain, unscented kleenex
1 box gauze sponges (4"x4")
1 box gauze pads (3"x3")
1 box moist wipes (I use the unscented, hypo-allergenic kind)
1 tube petroleum jelly
1 box disposable gloves
1 bulb syringe
1 small box cotton swabs
1 heavy vinyl tablecloth (place this right under the box right from the start and then fold it out of the way, and then when the delivery starts you can just unfold it to catch as much of the mess as possible that ends up outside the box.)
1 16-oz bottle Betadine
unwaxed, unflavored dental floss (cut into ten inch strips and placed in a container of alcohol - you may need to use these to tie off umbilical cords if your queen doesn't do it.)
1 eye dropper
1 2-oz bottle with tiny nipples designed for kittens
1 syringe with three silicon teats designed for newborns
KMR ready-to-feed, one 8-oz can
KMR powder, one 6-oz jar
container for soaking scissors and floss in alcohol
backup battery for scale
notebook and pen
This information should get you safely up to the actual delivery - there is more for afterwards, but this has certainly been long enuff. One last bit of advice - remember to breathe. Email me privately if you like, and I am happy to send whatever other info you may require.
Best of luck,