There is a general overpopulation problem with cats. That’s why the recommendation is for almost all domestic cats to have an operation that prevents them from reproducing.
You may be breeding a special kind of cat or you may have picked up a pregnant stray cat. You might also have made a mistake and left it too late for your vet to spay your cat. Whatever the reason, read on to find out how to care for your pregnant cat.
How Long Does a Cat Pregnancy Last?
When a female cat is preparing to have kittens, we call this process “queening.” Cats can be as young as 4 months old when they get pregnant. They’ll go into heat every 2 to 3 weeks in the warmer months. Pregnancies typically last around 63 days.
It’s, therefore, possible for a cat as young as 6 months old to give birth to a litter of kittens. It’s also possible for kittens in the same litter to have different fathers. The name for this is superfecundation.
When female cats are on heat, they display what appears to be “flirtatious” behavior. They’ll rub and roll on the floor for example. At the same time, they may make plaintive and demanding sounds known as “calling.”
If you’ve never owned a cat before, it’s easy to think your cat might be in pain. In fact, the sounds they make are quite normal and mean they are in search of a mate.
You can use our cat pregnancy calculator to find your cat’s due date.
How Do I Know if My Cat Is Pregnant?
It can be difficult to confirm a pregnancy until a cat is about 3 or 4 weeks into their pregnancy. Your cat’s belly will usually only get noticeably bigger after around a month. 2 to 3 weeks after they conceive, their nipples may enlarge and redden.
The best way to find out if your cat is pregnant is to take them to the vet. They will also be able to tell you how many kittens are in the litter. Average litters tend to have 4 kittens in them. Here are some ways your vet can check if your cat is pregnant:
- Examining your cat’s belly for increased size and feeling kittens within
- Using ultrasound from around 28 days into the pregnancy
- Taking an X-ray later on (from around 45 days) in the pregnancy to determine the size of the litter
How to Care For a Pregnant Cat
It would be unusual but your cat could experience morning sickness in the first days of pregnancy. They might display a lack of appetite and vomit. If these symptoms persist, you should take them to see the vet.
Your cat will also be experiencing a change in their hormones and that can make them feel more tired than usual. As your cat’s pregnancy progresses, you’ll need to gradually increase their calorie intake. Small, regular meals are best so that they don’t overfeed at any one sitting.
Vets will normally recommend that you begin giving them kitten food. You should continue this while they are nursing their new arrivals.
Remember that viruses can spread to kittens whilst they are still in the womb. You should always check with your vet to make sure your cat’s vaccinations, deworming and flea treatments are up to date.
Listen carefully to their advice because some treatments are not safe to give during pregnancy.
How Should I Prepare for the Day My Cat Gives Birth?
You should make your home as comfortable as possible. As your cat reaches the end of their pregnancy, you should stop them from going outdoors. This is so that you’ll be able to keep an eye on things once they give birth.
Around two weeks before they begin labor, your cat will go into what’s known as “nesting mode.” They’ll be checking out potential places to give birth. You should prepare a potential spot for them. Here’s how:
- Find a medium-sized cardboard box
- Line it with newspaper
- Fill it with soft, old towels and blankets
- Place this nesting box in a quiet corner of your home
One of the things many of us love about cats is their independent spirit. They’re choosy and tend to do as they please rather than what you would like them to do.
It’s not unusual for a cat to reject a nesting box and decide to give birth in a laundry basket instead, for example. They will do what works for them.
A New Litter Is on the Way!
If you observe your cat going into “nesting mode,” you should take them to see the vet for a last prenatal visit.
Your vet will advise you on how to prepare for the birth and how to check that your cat and her kittens are healthy. They’ll also let you know what to do in an emergency. Two clues that the kittens are on their way are:
- Your cat will typically stop eating 24 hours before the birth
- Your cat’s temperature will drop to below 100 degrees Fahrenheit
If you’d like more reassurance about your cat’s pregnancy, contact us now for immediate online access to a fully qualified vet. We are also able to offer straightforward, hassle-free, pet insurance for your cat and her kittens.