Whether you intended on your cat getting pregnant or it just happened, knowing what to expect is crucial to the health of your feline and her kittens. The most important thing about cat pregnancy is avoidance. Consider having your feline fixed after she's had her litter. Spaying your feline will not only give her a healthier life, but also avoid the dilemma of what to do with unwanted kittens, something we know about all too well here at Ruff Patches! On to the Q&A!
When is a cat capable of having kittens?
Cats reach sexual maturity between four months and 1 year of age. Your cat can get pregnant once she's reached her first estrus (heat), or the period when she will breed with males. Until your cat gets pregnant, she will be in polyestrus during breeding season, which usually runs from January to October. During this time, she will go into heat every two to three weeks.
How can I tell when my cat is in heat?
Trust us, you’ll know. Cats in heat howl constantly, try to get outside 24/7, roll around on the floor, and affectionately rub up against you and your furniture. They also urinate frequently and spend a lot of time with their butts up in the air. This is known as the breeding position. Felines will put their heads and front legs close to the ground and stick their rumps up high.
Will I know when my cat is pregnant?
There are outward signs. Cats instinctually prepare for birth by exhibiting nesting and mothering habits. Your cat will build a birthing area by tearing things up for nesting material. She will also mother inanimate objects. Four weeks into the pregnancy, she will gain weight and her abdomen and mammary glands will swell.
How long does a feline pregnancy last?
Pregnancy on average lasts 63 days, although it can range from 58 to 68 days.
What can I do to take care of my pregnant cat?
Pregnant queens (as they're called) need special nutrition – high quality cat food formulated for your pregnant and, soon to be, nursing cat or kitten food will suffice. As your cat's pregnancy progresses, she'll also need vitamins and additional feedings daily. Space the extra feedings out, however, or your queen will not eat them because her tummy is compressed by her growing kittens. Make sure she also has plenty of fresh water, keep her indoors and monitor her activity level, as strenuous exercise is not recommended during pregnancy.
What are signs that my cat is in labor?
Your cat will begin to meow, moan and possibly pant at the beginning stages of labor. She will also groom her stomach and genital areas and frequent her litter box, so make sure to move it close by. Your cat will desire privacy prior to birthing and try to find a hiding place. Don’t panic if she does. This is normal behavior. Give her space and observe from afar.
What should I do during her labor?
Keep your cat emotionally comfortable. If your cat does not feel safe in the area where her birthing nest is, she may actually stall the labor. Make sure your cat is in a peaceful and quiet environment. Turn down the lights if that helps and, for the most part, leave her alone -- she's very capable of delivering her kittens on her own.
What should I do with the kittens as they’re born?
Your cat will clean and care for each kitten as it’s born. Should she fail to sever an umbilical cord, you may need to cut it yourself. You may also need to remove the placenta. Kittens in distress might need their nasal passages cleared and/or CPR. Speak with a veterinary professional in advance to learn how to properly accomplish these tasks.
Can I give my sick, pregnant cat medication?
No. Nearly all medication is dangerous to pregnant and nursing cats. Pregnant or nursing cats should not be given any type of medication without the direct supervision of her vet.
There you are! Those are the most common questions we get regarding cat estrus and pregnancy. If you have a question that wasn’t answered, please comment below or post it on our social media platforms. It’s kitten season and Ruff Patches has our hands full! You can help by fostering or donating money for kitten supplies.