Having kittens is a thrilling and emotional experience for both you and your cat. Before you can welcome bundles of fur into your home, you must first understand how to detect whether your cat is pregnant and what you can do to make her pregnancy as happy as possible.
When planning to have kittens, keep in mind that your cat and her litter will have needs that you must be prepared to meet. We’ve covered everything you need to know about expecting cats to assist you to support your pet during her pregnancy and labor.
Pregnancy in a cat
Cats, like humans, have times of peak fertility during which they can become pregnant; this is referred to as being in season or heat. Cats might be in season once every three weeks, so there are lots of chances for your pet to become pregnant!
We recommend neutering your cat before her first season if you want to avoid an unexpected litter of kittens, as she can become pregnant very readily beyond that point. Because raising litter can be unpleasant for your cat and costly for you, we recommend leaving breeding to the professionals if at all possible.
How long does a pregnant cat last?
Cat pregnancy typically lasts between 63 and 67 days, however, it can be difficult to determine how long a cat is pregnant. The gestation period of a cat can last anywhere from 61 to 72 days.
Your cat (queen) may not exhibit any visible signs of pregnancy until she is several weeks into her term. If you suspect your cat is pregnant, take her to the veterinarian for confirmation.
If you want to know how to tell if a cat is pregnant, there are various physical symptoms that you should be able to detect after two or three weeks.
How to Determine Whether Your Cat Is Pregnant
You may notice your cat’s nipples becoming swollen and red after around 15-18 days of pregnancy – this is known as ‘pinking-up.’
Your pregnant queen may have vomiting, the same as how people experience morning sickness. If her illness becomes more frequent or if she looks to be ill in any other way, contact your veterinarian.
Your queen’s tummy will begin to swell, but don’t touch it to avoid injuring mum or her unborn kittens. Other causes of stomach swelling may exist, so keep an eye on your cat for any signs of disease and visit your veterinarian if you are concerned.
A pregnant woman will gradually gain 1-2 kg (depending on the number of kittens she is carrying) – this is a solid indication that she is pregnant.
Queens have a heightened hunger later in their pregnancy, which contributes to her weight gain. An increased appetite could also be an indication of worms or disease, so check with your veterinarian to be sure.
Your pregnant cat may exhibit more maternal behavior, such as purring more and seeking additional care and attention from you.
Some veterinarians can use ultrasound to detect a cat’s pregnancy as early as 15 days into her pregnancy.
The veterinarian may also be able to tell you how many babies your cat is expecting by day 40 of her pregnancy. Keep in mind that in a cat pregnancy, a larger kitten can obscure other smaller kittens in the womb, so you might end up with more kittens than you planned!
Taking Care of Your Pregnant Queen
It’s uncommon, but your cat may experience “morning sickness” in the early stages of pregnancy, which manifests as a lack of appetite or vomiting. If this continues, take them to the vet. They may experience exhaustion as a result of the surge of hormones and changes to their uterus. After the first few weeks, this phase will finally fade.
Your cat, like many other females in the animal kingdom, may require more food and calories while pregnant (or, for a cat, an average of 4 buns per litter).
As their pregnancy progresses, they’ll eat around 1.5 times their typical diet, so make sure they always have access to it. Your veterinarian will almost certainly advise you to feed your pregnant cat kitten food or food labeled for pregnant and lactating cats throughout their pregnancy and while nursing their kittens.
Viruses can infect kittens before they are born, so keep your cat’s vaccine schedule up to date. If your pregnant cat is due for a normal vaccine, deworming/flea treatment, or medicine, consult with your veterinarian first to ensure that the therapy is safe for them. Most vaccines are not safe to administer during pregnancy, thus it is better to vaccinate before breeding.
Finally, Preparing for the Big Day
Make your home a welcoming environment for the imminent baby. If you typically let your cat go outside, cease doing so to avoid them going into labor on one of their walks.
You may notice your cat acting strangely around 2 weeks before the due date as they enter nesting mode. You can assist them by scanning your home for a suitable birthing location. Find a medium-sized box with a low opening and fill it with newspapers, old towels, and soft blankets to make a comfortable environment for the mother and her prospective kittens.
Place the nesting box in a secluded area of your home. Allow your pregnant cat to visit it frequently before birth so that she becomes accustomed to the environment and feels at ease.
Keep in mind that you can guide your cat as much as possible and set up the ideal birthing location, but they will do what they will do. They will give birth in a laundry basket, behind the garbage can, or at the back of your closet if that is what they desire.
Take your cat to the vet for a final prenatal checkup if you observe them nesting. The vet will explain to you how to prepare for the delivery, check on the mother and kittens’ health, and tell you what to do if there is an emergency during the birth.
Two signs that the big day is approaching: Cats normally stop eating 24 hours before giving birth, and their body temperature dips below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll get to know those kittens shortly!