Many individuals who own cats may wonder how to determine if their cat is pregnant and what steps to take if she is. In this article, our Santa Clarita veterinarians will cover the methods for identifying feline pregnancy and how to get ready for the arrival of kittens.
Pregnancy in Cats
Did you know that if your unspayed kitten reaches 4 months of age, she may enter a state of heat and potentially become pregnant? This could pose risks to both the young queen (the term for a pregnant cat) and the offspring. If your cat remains unspayed and is unsupervised or coexists with unneutered male cats, pregnancy may occur without your awareness.
If you do not wish your cat to have litters of kittens, our vet team strongly recommends having your pet spayed. This prevents unwanted litters of kittens and can also help to prevent several health conditions in your cat.
How to Tell if Your Cat Is Pregnant
- If your cat tolerates it, gently palpating (feeling along) your cat's belly can sometimes be helpful but isn't always correct.
- The cat's belly will grow bigger and rounder about a month after mating, and their nipples will also become darker and redder.
- Fatigue, though this, should pass after a few weeks.
- A sudden increase in appetite, especially when combined with the above signs.
- Although unusual, some cats experience 'morning sickness' as human parents do; this can appear in the form of nausea/lack of appetite.
For a more accurate look at your cat's pregnancy status, your veterinarian has access to several diagnostic methods and tools. They can use ultrasound to confirm the presence of kittens 16 days into gestation, though it cannot determine how many kittens your cat is carrying.
X-rays can give an idea of the number of kittens, but they aren't always accurate and aren't safe for the unborn kittens until 42 days into gestation - at the earliest. Ideally, X-rays aren't taken of pregnant cats until they are past 55 days of pregnancy.
How Long Cats Are Pregnant For
As mentioned above, kittens can get pregnant as young as 4 months old. Unspayed female cats can go into heat every 2 - 3 weeks from springtime through the autumn, which means that they can get pregnant and birth kittens rapidly - and they can start having litters as young as 6 months old themselves.
Cats are usually pregnant for about 2 months (63-65 days), but further diagnosis (e.g., an examination from a veterinarian) may be needed to determine how far along she is, how many kittens she is carrying, and identify any potential health risks or problems.
Preparing for Your Cat's Pregnancy & Her Kittens!
Similar to many other animal species, a pregnant cat typically requires increased food intake to maintain its health and strength until giving birth, necessitating a higher calorie intake. Anticipate your cat consuming approximately 1.5 times its regular amount of food, particularly as the expected birthing date approaches, as your veterinarian advises. It's also probable that your vet will suggest feeding your cat either kitten food or food specifically designed for pregnant and lactating cats throughout the pregnancy and nursing period.
Like newborn human infants, newborn kittens are susceptible to infections and diseases that may be transmitted from their mothers. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that your cat's vaccinations are kept current. Consult your veterinarian to ascertain the safety of scheduled vaccines and other preventive medications for your pregnant cat.
Getting Ready for the 'Big Day'
The following tips are useful for creating a comfortable space for your cat to give birth. Cats tend to follow their own instincts, so your cat may choose unconventional locations such as the bathtub, under the bed, or in a laundry basket. Being prepared to assist the mother and her kittens is essential.
If your cat roams both indoors and outdoors, it's advisable to keep her indoors as her due date approaches to prevent her from giving birth in an unsafe location.
Approximately two weeks before the kittens are due, your cat may exhibit nesting behavior. You can assist by identifying suitable, quiet, dry, and clean areas in your home for birthing.
Place a medium to medium-large box with low walls to contain the kittens and allow for non-disruptive observation of the mother and kittens during their initial days. To make the nesting area cozy, furnish it with newspapers, old towels, and soft blankets to create a relaxing environment for the mother and kittens.
You should place the nesting box in a quiet corner of your house. Let your pregnant cat visit it often before the birth so they get used to the area and feel comfortable.
For more experienced cat owners, some more hints that their cat may be getting ready to go into labor include a cessation in eating about 24 hours before and their temperature drops under 100ºF. Get ready to greet some tiny bundles of joy - our vet team can't wait to see them for their very first check-ups!
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.