When a pregnant queen cat is on the verge of giving birth, she won't be celebrating at baby showers or buying cozy blankets for the upcoming nursery. However, you may notice nesting behaviors -- essentially her instinctive search for a warm and quiet spot to welcome her litter of cuties.
According to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station division of Rutgers University, feline gestation typically lasts for a little over two months -- 63 days or so. Throughout a healthy cat pregnancy, you may observe some key signs of the indication, from vomiting and drastically increased appetite to especially loving and clingy behavior. You may also notice during the pregnancy that your cat's nipples are suddenly pinker in color and "fuller" in appearance due to the presence of milk.
When a queen cat senses that labor is impending, she may start behaving in a much more restless and nervous manner than usual. Beginning one or two days before the big event, a cat may start panting excessively and even circling your home with no apparent destination. All of these are preparatory actions. Your sweet cat knows exactly what's about to happen.
Nesting also happens around the same time frame as the pacing and panting. It may begin as early as two days before labor, or even as late as merely 12 hours beforehand. Nesting is essentially a type of "prelabor" stage. At this point, the momma-to-be may begin her quest for an isolated, quiet, calm and dim area to bring her litter into the world. If you can't find her anywhere for a couple of hours, at least you'll know what she's likely doing -- phew. Cats often gravitate towards closets for these purposes, unsurprisingly.
When you notice your pregnant cutie partaking in nesting behaviors, don't be afraid to give her a helping hand. That's your job! Offer her a comfortable cardboard box to give birth to her kittens. Make sure you equip the box with a few clean and soft towels or blankets, too. To make it as simple as possible for your cat to move in and out of the box, opt for one that has low sides.