Your cat's pregnancy calendar cover two months. Of course, you might or might not know when she was bred, so knowing kitty's due date depends on that knowledge. Whether shorter or longer, pretty soon you'll hear the pitter-patter of kitten feet.
Felines hit puberty and begin mating at about the age of 6 months. A cat's gestation period last approximately 63 days, so if you bred your cat or know when she got out of the house and probably mated you can expect kittens to arrive two months later. The gestation period for Siamese cats is a few days longer. Pregnant cats are called queens, so make sure you treat Kitty like one during this time.
The First Month
For the first month, it's hard to tell if a cat is pregnant. Some felines experience morning sickness, so if yours lacks appetite or throws up frequently, it could mean kittens are on the way. That stage passes quickly -- by the third week she should be back to normal as far as eating. You might notice her nipples start to swell and turn red. By week three, your vet can palpate her abdomen and locate kittens or she can perform an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy.
The Second Month
Once past the 40-day mark, Kitty's pregnancy becomes more obvious. A healthy cat's abdomen begins swelling, and she continues to gain weight. She's also a lot hungrier, as her unborn kittens need nutrition, too. Many cats start purring a lot more, according to the Purina website. She may want attention. Avoid picking her up once she gets to the obviously pregnant stage, so you don't accidentally harm the kittens.
Kitty isn't eating just for two -- she could be eating for half a dozen or more. That's why it's important that she get proper nourishment during her pregnancy. She can easily eat up to four times her normal amount. Ask your vet about special diets designed for pregnant cats. Once she's had her kittens, she'll continue to need additional food until they are weaned, at about the age of 6 weeks. Your cat shouldn't get some vaccinations during her pregnancy; ask your vet about the use of flea and tick control products during this time.
A week before her kittens are born, a pregnant cat goes into a nesting stage, looking for a secure place to give birth. When the kittens' arrival is imminent, Kitty will eat less if at all and will become restless. You might see small amounts of milk coming out of her nipples. When she begins licking her privates vigorously, labor is starting. She might cry out from pain. Once labor begins, the first kitten should arrive within an hour. Subsequent kittens arrive every 15 to 20 minutes. If she appears in distress while birthing and fails to deliver a kitten after laboring for an hour, call your vet.
Unless your cat is purebred and you intend to breed her again, consider having her spayed once her kittens are weaned. The sad truth is that there are far more cats in the world than homes for them. Spaying removes her uterus and ovaries. Although any surgery carries risk, most cats recover very well. The Veterinary Partner website suggests you wait a month until after the kittens are weaned to have a mother cat spayed. By then her nipples should have receded to make the procedure easier. Keep her inside and away from any tomcats in the meantime so she won't get pregnant again.
- VetInfo: The Five Stages of Cat Pregnancy
- Claws and Paws Veterinary Hospital: Gestation in Cats
- Purina: Spotting the Signs of Pregnancy
- Hill's Pet Nutrition: Feeding Priorities for Pregnant or Nursing Cats
- VetStreet: Pregnancy in Cats
- All About Pets Veterinary Hospital: Pregnancy in Cats
- Veterinary Partner: Feline Spay FAQ
- George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
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