It’s important to know how to take care of a pregnant cat if your precious fur baby got outside while on heat. Accidents happen and it only takes one interested tom to get a female pregnant! Amazingly, mating itself only takes 10 seconds!!
Anyway, your kitty has returned home after her excursions and now you’re wondering if she’s pregnant. You have the option of getting her neutered immediately, or welcoming new kitties into the world. I can understand your excitement at the prospect of being a cat granny!
Kittens are sweet and adorable but they soon grow into adults. Before waiting to see if your cat is pregnant you need to think carefully about looking after your new brood. Will you keep all your cat’s babies or find homes for some or all of them?
You must think of your cat’s welfare as well as those of the kittens. You also have to be prepared to stay at home while the kittens are tiny, just to keep an eye on things. I’m not sure if maternity leave extends to our fur babies though!!
In this post you’ll discover how to take care of a pregnant cat, whether it’s your own or a stray you’ve taken in. You’ll learn how to tell if your cat’s pregnant, the length and stages of pregnancy, feeding your pregnant cat, what to expect during labour, and caring for newborns.
How do you know if your cat is pregnant
If your cat is pregnant you’ll start to notice a change in the shape and colour of her nipples. This will happen in the first few weeks as they increase in size and turn a deeper pink. Just like humans, cats sometimes experience morning sickness. If you notice your kitty vomiting a few times this could be a sign she’s expecting.
A good idea is to get your cat checked by a vet to confirm she’s pregnant and that everything is ok. He or she will advise you on caring for your kitty and if it’s safe to worm her during pregnancy. You’ll also be advised on any recommended vaccinations.
How long is a cat’s pregnancy
If your cat is pregnant she’ll give birth after about 62 days, or nine weeks. You can expect a litter of up to eight kittens, but this varies.
Fertilisation occurs during the first two weeks when the egg enters the uterus. By the third week your cat’s babies will be starting to develop. Each unborn kitten is protected by its own membrane and obtains nourishment through its own placenta. All kittens are spaced along each horn of the uterus. These connect the uterus to the fallopian tubes.
Around the end of the third week you’ll notice your cat gaining weight around the abdomen. This is also when your cat’s nipples start to increase in size. Morning sickness may show during the fourth week. Don’t worry though unless vomiting becomes severe or goes on for a long time.
The excitement of fast developing kittens
By week five the kittens will be growing and developing rapidly. Your vet will be able to feel the kittens and possibly the number of new arrivals! Please don’t do this yourself! Your cat’s belly will be highly sensitive and you don’t want to hurt the kittens. Also, use extreme care if you need to take your cat to the vet.
Carefully lift her up from the bottom and avoid touching the abdomen. Then, place her very gently in the pet carrier and make sure she’s comfortable and safe. Treat your pregnant kitty with the same care and respect you would any mum to be!
Eating for four or eight!!
Week six onwards is a crucial time for getting the right nutrition. Remember, she’s eating for up to eight or more babies so expect an increase in appetite. Just as with a pregnant human you may see tiny movements in her belly as the kittens move. This can be exciting and even emotional, as your precious kitty is creating new life!
By week seven your cat’s belly will be very large. It’s around this time her appetite may become erratic. The pressure of the kittens on her stomach will make eating uncomfortable as they take up more space. This is a good time to think about providing a queening box.
During the eighth week you’ll really notice how visible the kittens have become. You’ll have no trouble seeing them move under the surface of the skin. Don’t panic if you notice the fur around your cat’s belly has become thin. This is completely normal and it will grow back again after the kittens are born.
As the nineth week draws closer your cat will be getting near to giving birth. It’s possible though, your cat may not produce her kittens until the tenth week. There’s no set rule, but you’ll know when the time is drawing close as she’ll be looking for reassurance. She may be more affectionate than usual, and want lots of cuddles, but be very careful how you pet her.
Preparing for the birth
Your kitty should be on the verge of giving birth anytime. Though most cats tend to give birth in the nineth week, some go into week ten. Prepare for the birth by proving your cat with a queening box as previously mentioned. This will give her somewhere comfortable to give birth and nurse her newborns. While there’s no guarantee she’ll use it, it’s still a good idea. Place the box somewhere private away from any disturbances. Make sure it’s free from draughts and ideally in a place that’s partially dark.
Get your pregnant queen used to the box earlier on in the pregnancy so it feels safe and familiar. Encourage her to sleep in it and make sure food and water are placed nearby. This lessens the chance of your cat giving birth in an awkward place such as inside the wardrobe or under the bed!
Going into labour
Most cats have no problems giving birth and rarely need intervention. They’re also good mothers and know instinctively how to take care of newborns. It’s important you keep an eye on your kitty though, just in case of any complications.
Imminent signs your pregnant queen is going into labour are pacing, panting, and making yowling noises. This is perfectly normal as she’s going into the first stage of labour. Keep family members away at this time as your kitty needs peace and quite. Labour can last up to 5 hours, but in some cases can go on for a lot longer.
During the second stage of labour contractions become much stronger, and you may notice some discharge. Don’t worry, this is completely normal. The time taken to deliver a kitten is usually about 30 minutes. Depending on the number of kittens being born, this will go on until all are delivered. First time mums usually have smaller litters, but it’s not unheard of for cats to have as many as 10!!
The placentas are delivered in the third stage. As each kitten has it’s own placenta, you need to check the number being expelled. All newborns have a thin amniotic sac or membrane that the mother breaks. Mum also licks her babies to clean them and stimulate breathing.
One very important point to mention is move your cat’s water bowl out of the kittens reach. They’re so tiny that drowning is a possibility, even if the water is very shallow. When you give mum water, please make sure you supervise. You could always give her a saucer with a very small amount of water, so her kittens won’t be in any danger.
When should you intervene?
Don’t do anything unless you notice any problems. If you need to finish opening any sacs, do so very gently with a soft towel. As I already mentioned, most cats are very good mothers and know exactly what to do. If your cat’s labour has gone on for a long time with no sign of kittens, or she seems distressed, call the vet.
Just as with human pregnancies, problems can occur. Always have your vet’s phone number to hand. Call if you’re worried or notice anything wrong. Your cat shouldn’t be moved though, unless in an absolute emergency.
Feeding your pregnant cat
Just like humans, cats need the right nutrition during pregnancy. A good idea is to start feeding your cat kitten food as soon as you know she’s expecting. This is formulated for growth and development which is what mum needs. All essential nutrients will be included to support the developing fetuses. Kitten food is higher in calories and protein, which is important for your pregnant cat.
Your pregnant kitty will be eating twice as much, so make sure you keep a good supply of food in the house! Remember, she could be carrying up to ten kittens so it’s no wonder her appetite will increase! Continue feeding your cat kitten food until after she’s finished weaning. You can then gradually introduce her back to her usual food. By this time her appetite should be back to normal.
Iams proactive healthy kitten food contains chicken with added vitamin E and Omega 3. This is great for supporting kitten development and building a strong immune system.
Hill’s science diet is formulated especially for kittens. Contains chicken with added nutrients to support growing kittens. You can either get a 3.51b or 71b bag. Both have velcro close to keep the food fresh.
How long do kittens wean?
Kittens usually start to wean around four weeks old. Until then they’ll drink their mother’s milk. This is why it’s essential to provide the right nutrition in your cat’s diet. Once they’ve stopped sucking the mother cat’s breasts they’ll try and eat food from her bowl. Usually, this ends up with the kittens being pushed away!
In some situations if a queen has a large litter, there may not be enough milk to feed all of them. Most times all kittens will get some milk, even if only a small amount. The first few hours and days are crucial as mother’s milk contains vital antibodies. These serve to build and strengthen the immune system.
If your cat is unable to provide milk you could use formula instead. You’d also need a nursing kit with bottle and teats. If it’s an emergency and you don’t have formula, contact your vet straight away. My advice would be to stock up with a supply before your cat gives birth. That way, no matter what happens you’re prepared!
Ensuring your kitty has a smooth pregnancy.
Whether planned or not, you want your precious fur baby to have a smooth pregnancy. Knowing how to take care of a pregnant cat is vital. As your cat draws near the final few weeks of pregnancy, keep her indoors. There’s a risk she could go into labour and run off somewhere. Giving birth outside is the last thing you want. It’s possible she could nest in a garage or shed. She may even hide herself in a shrub or bush.
Should you get your cat neutered?
Unless you want more kittens I strongly suggest you get your cat neutered after she’s given birth. Females become fertile after only 3 months and can produce a lot of kittens in their lifetime! Of course, if you’re breeding that’s a different matter.
You may think adopting an older cat lessens the chance of pregnancy. However, you need to be aware that cats remain fertile unless neutered. In fact, the oldest pregnant cat was believed to be about 30 years old!
In this post you’ve discovered important tips on looking after your pregnant cat. From confirming pregnancy, to what to expect over the next nine weeks. We’ve covered best foods to feed your pregnant cat as well as preparing for the new arrivals. Remember, this is an exciting time for all the family, but you must give your kitty the privacy she needs during labour.
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Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂