Is your cat pregnant?
If you’re expecting a new batch of cute kittens soon, you’re probably worried about how long their pregnancy lasts.
Your cat needs extra care during gestation to ensure that the mother cat and kittens are fine. Don’t sweat it because Spot Pet Insurance will share what everything you need to know about caring for your pregnant cat.
How long is a cat pregnant?
Usually, a cat is pregnant for about two months or anywhere between 52–74 days. The average cat gestation period is 65.6 days. This is similar to the pregnancy duration for dogs such as the Jack Russell terriers. During this time, cats go through weight gain, need changes to their cat food regimen, and show other symptoms of pregnancy.
Cat pregnancy length can vary by breed. If you have more than one cat breed in your home, you may observe that one has a lengthier pregnancy than the other.
When can a cat get pregnant?
Cats get mature enough to bear kittens pretty early on. By four months old, cats are old enough to get pregnant. Your cats may start showing signs of being ready to mate at this age. You might see them becoming more active and seeking extra attention with purrs and pawing.
Unlike humans, cats don’t go through menopause after the birthing process. That means they can keep popping out cute little kittens all their life. Consequently, you shouldn’t delay spaying your cat to avoid a large number of kittens running around your home. Male cats also need to be neutered to prevent them from impregnating female cats.
What are the signs that your cat is pregnant?
Many cat pregnancies aren’t planned. If you delay getting your cat neutered and spend time with others, they can get pregnant.
Pregnant cats don’t always show these symptoms. In fact, you might not even realize your cats are pregnant till they’re in active labor.
Here are some signs that your cats might show when pregnant:
Heat cycle changes
A female cat shows they’re in heat by displaying attention-seeking behavior. You might see them rolling around on the floor and yowling in attempts to attract a mate. Naturally, a cat’s heat cycle appears every 10 to 14 days. Once your cats get pregnant, this heat cycle stops.
It’s easy to blame a pregnant cat’s body changes on increased snacking. Your cat’s feeding needs will increase during pregnancy — this nourishes the growing kittens in their tummy. Generally, pregnant cats may eat about 1.5 times more compared to pre-pregnancy.
Pregnant women aren’t the only ones who get morning sickness. Pregnant cats can get it too. During early pregnancy, your cats might be throwing up regularly.
Pregnancy isn’t the only life event that can make cats vomit. If there aren’t other cat pregnancy symptoms and they’re throwing up frequently, it might indicate a severe health condition.
Changes in your cat’s teats might not be immediately noticeable, especially if they have a thick fur coat. However, a pregnant cat’s teats get swollen and appear darker, called “pinking up.”
Check your cat’s teats for changes if you suspect they’re pregnant. You might also notice some white discharge from cats’ teats.
Your cat’s body changes when growing a litter of kittens inside their bellies. Their diet also changes, contributing to these body transformations. The growing kittens in your cat’s uterus make their tummy appear swollen. This sign isn’t always easy to see and is commonly missed by pet parents.
Toward the end of your cat’s pregnancy — a few days to a couple of hours before giving birth — you might notice nesting behaviors. They’ll look for a dark, quiet area to give birth. Your closets might be a perfect spot for your pregnant cats.
If you see your pregnant cat looking for a comfy spot to give birth, you can help out. A cozy cardboard box containing soft blankets might work. Choose a container with low sides so that your cat has no trouble getting in and out of the nesting box as often as they need until the kittens start popping out.
How can you tell if your cat is pregnant?
Even if you notice all these behaviors in your cat, they’re not accurate signs. You need to go to your vet to confirm if your cat is pregnant.
Vets can check for feline pregnancy by:
As early as day 16, you can tell if your cat is pregnant through an ultrasound. Your vet places the ultrasound probe over your cat’s abdomen to picture what’s inside. It gives real-time imaging of the kittens so that your vet can monitor the pregnant kitty’s health.
An abdominal exam can help in monitoring your cat’s pregnancy. Gentle palpation of your cat’s belly tells your vet how many kittens are due.
X-rays may be done after your cat clocks 55 days of pregnancy. It’s generally best not to have it any time earlier than 42 days. The X-ray image shows the skeletons of the kittens for a more accurate estimate of the number.
How do you care for your pregnant cat’s health?
During pregnancy, your cat needs the best care. Here are some things you need to do to care for your pregnant cat’s health:
Ensure they’re eating enough
Cats need to eat healthy, especially while pregnant. However, morning sickness doesn’t make it so easy. Some cats deal with unpleasant morning sickness and lose their appetite for food. This happens due to hormonal changes, but it doesn’t last beyond the first few weeks.
Pregnant cats should eat up to 1.5 times more than they used to eat before getting pregnant. Your vet might ask that you give them kitten food or special food for pregnant or lactating cats.
Watch out for vaginal bleeding
Pregnant cats shouldn’t be bleeding. If it happens when your cat’s pregnancy is in the early stages, it could be a miscarriage. You should confirm with your vet if you notice this sign.
Vagina bleeding late in your cat’s pregnancy might indicate that labor has begun early, and they’ll need veterinary support immediately.
Check for intestinal parasites
Intestinal parasites can be transferred from pregnant cats to unborn kittens. Similarly, nursing can transmit these parasites to young kittens.
A fecal test can help identify if your cat has intestinal parasites. However, don’t just buy over-the-counter dewormers since these can be harmful. Take your cat to your vet instead for the best treatment course.
Flea anemia is a risk factor for feline pregnancy. It’s also responsible for a large proportion of deaths in young kittens. Put your pregnant cat on a flea preventative. Choose vet-approved flea preventatives that are safe for pregnant cats.
Pregnant cats shouldn’t be getting vaccines. Vaccines may increase the chances of birth defects in feline fetuses. If you have a breeding cat, you should ensure they have all their necessary vaccines before getting pregnant.
What happens when a cat is in labor?
Three stages of labor are needed to deliver a kitten completely. These are:
Stage 1: Contractions
The first thing that happens is that your cat’s cervix relaxes. Recurrent uterine contractions follow.
You can’t physically tell that your cat is having contractions, but you can look out for the following signs:
- Lowered body temperature
- Traveling in and out of the nesting box
Stage 2: Birth
The uterine contractions become stronger and more frequent. Don’t move them if you think your cat has entered this stage. Once your cat feels stressed during labor, their contractions might stop, and they’ll restart the next day.
Pregnant cats may have between four to six kittens per litter. Each kitten can take up to 60 minutes to be delivered. This puts the complete birthing time at around six hours.
Use your stopwatch to record how long it takes for each new kitten to pop out. Your cat might be having a difficult birth (dystocia) if it takes longer than 60 minutes for each kitten to be born. At this point, you need to take the cat to your vet to handle the complication.
After the kittens arrive, you can help the mama cat. Usually, the kittens come out covered in fetal membranes that the mother cat removes. If the mother cat doesn’t remove the fetal membranes within a minute of birthing the kitten, you could possibly do it. Clean the newborn kitten’s nostrils and open their mouth to clear fluid. Stroking their body with a towel will help them start breathing.
You can also cut the umbilical cord if the mother cat doesn’t break it. You can tear the cord with your fingers but don’t pull on it.
Stage 3: Afterbirth
After the kitten is born, a greenish mass called the placenta comes out too. If the placenta isn’t out yet, you must take your cat to the vet. This could be a retained placenta, which can cause infections for the mother cat and affect their ability to care for kittens.
Often, cat pregnancies come as a surprise. It lasts about 52–74 days, so cat lovers might not spot the signs until delivery.
Cat pregnancy signs include morning sickness, pink nipples, bigger tummy, increased sleeping, increased appetite, changes in heat cycles, and nesting behaviors. You can only confirm your cat’s pregnancy by visiting your vet.
Cats can get pregnant really young. By four months of age, cats have the sexual maturity to bear kittens. That’s why you shouldn’t delay neutering your cat.
Want to ask someone about healthcare during feline pregnancy? Reach out to Spot Pet Insurance.