What Are the Causes of Premature Litters in Cats?

Kittens born too early can have health complications.

Kittens born too early can have health complications.

An average cat pregnancy lasts just a little over two months. During that time a number of things can trigger premature labor and cause your kitty to deliver her babies early. Preemie kittens born at a minimum of 61 days of gestation have the best shot at survival.

Age Factors

Kittens and old cats are more prone to delivering premature litters. Their bodies just aren't equipped for the arduous task of growing and birthing kittens. If you have a youngster or a senior feline you suspect is pregnant, talk to your vet about precautions to ensure the pregnancy is a healthy one, both for the unborn kittens and for your pet.

Malnutrition and Poor Diet

It takes a healthy diet to ensure a healthy pregnancy, both for the growing babies and for the mother. Some people don't realize their cats are expecting and don't alter their diets accordingly. If you have an unaltered kitty who’s been in the amorous company of a male, and you suspect she may be pregnant, take her for a checkup and get advice on the best way to feed her during gestation.

Stress or Injury

If your kitty is injured or undergoes any type of stress, she can go into premature labor. A change in living environment, a move, a fall or a fight with another animal during pregnancy has the potential to throw off her reproductive system. Try to keep your cat calm and safe during her pregnancy to guard against potential problems. Isolate her from other pets in the house in the weeks leading up to birth to minimize stress.

Health Issues

Bacterial or viral infections, tumors, hormonal imbalances or undiagnosed medical conditions can all complicate a pregnancy and result in early labor. The only way to identify this potential problem in advance is if your vet performs regular exams, blood tests and ultrasounds on your cat and monitors the development of her babies. This can be a time-consuming and pricey endeavor, and your vet may recommend this only in the event your cat is having a high-risk pregnancy or has had premature litters in the past.

Preventative Measures

If you don't want your cat to have kittens, have her spayed. If you plan to breed your cat intentionally, make sure she’s on a healthy diet and is in good physical condition prior to breeding. Ensure that she gets good medical attention during the duration of her pregnancy. In the event kittens are born premature, your vet is the best person to consult about how best to care for the kittens based on their age and size.

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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