You may be online right now researching how to tell if your cat is pregnant if at some point, she was able to sneak out of the house while she was in heat. The chances are high that your cat is pregnant if she was gone for several hours or days. But how can you know for sure? As someone who has delivered and raised several litters, I’ve created this article to help cat owners determine whether or not their feline is expecting and what you can do to prepare for the big event.
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Cats are impressive breeders and can have up to five litters a year.
Feline pregnancy typically lasts eight weeks. However, a pregnancy can last between sixty-three up to sixty-seven days, or as long as seventy-two days. Typically, a cat will not show any signs of pregnancy until they have been pregnant for two to three weeks. This will give the cat owner four weeks to prepare.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Pregnant
Below, you’ll find a list of tell tale signs that can indicate your cat is expecting:
Change in Heat Cycle
The best sign that can indicate you’re dealing with cat pregnancy is a change in their heat cycle. A cat will usually go into heat every ten to fourteen days. This is usually accompanied by rolling on the floor, rubbing up against furniture, and yowling at all hours of the day and night. If a female cat is pregnant, they will not go into heat.
Another common sign that can indicate your kitty is expecting is a change in appetite. A pregnant female cat will experience an increase in appetite and cravings for different foods during the pregnancy, often eating fifty percent more food than what they normally would.
You can also tell if a cat is expecting by looking at their nipples. A cat’s nipples will become swollen and a bright pink color. They may also look fully engorged and dark pink if she had a litter earlier in life.
Morning sickness is also part of a cat pregnancy. Regularly vomiting on a daily basis can be a clear indication that your cat is expecting.
Later in the gestation period, a cat owner will notice a change in weight that can range from two to four pounds.
You can also tell if a cat is pregnant if they sleep for longer periods of time.
Many pet owners have reported that their feline also experienced mood changes and an increase in how affectionate they were. You may notice that your cat wants more attention often. This is due to neurological and hormonal changes.
A feline will prepare for the birth of the kittens by seeking out a quiet, secluded nesting area to have their babies. They may begin by rearranging blankets or they may try to scare other animals in the home out of that particular room.
The best way to look for signs your feline is expecting is to inspect their belly. Four weeks into the pregnancy, cats will start to show physical signs of pregnancy with a growing belly. Weight gain may be harder to spot if your pet is already obese.
Time to Make a Veterinarian Appointment for Your Pregnant Cat
Pet parents who have never dealt with a pregnant cat and are very nervous about the prospect of having their cat deliver a litter at home should make an appointment with their veterinarian. They can perform an exam or run some tests to determine whether or not your cat is pregnant.
A veterinarian with experience can often determine whether or not a pet is pregnant by performing a physical. They will press gently on the cat’s abdomen to feel for the fetuses. By pressing on the abdomen, the doctor can also get a feel of whether there may be complications, based on queen and fetus size. This exam can be done as early as three weeks into the pregnancy.
Pet x-rays will show the skeleton of the queen and the skeletons of the kittens as early as one month into gestation, so you can find out the number of kittens you can expect.
An ultrasound can determine the number of kittens as early as three weeks into the pregnancy. Kittens Per Litter
Typically, pets will have between one and ten kittens per litter. A queen often gives birth to a smaller litter of just two or three. An older cat may also have a smaller litter. The size of the litter can also depend on the cat’s breed and/or the size of the mother. A Siamese cat will often have a larger litter, while a Persian may have a smaller litter. It’s a good idea to speak with your vet to learn how many kittens you can expect.
A cat can get pregnant early in life. Some queens get pregnant as early as four months of age. Because of this, it’s crucial to get your cat spayed as soon as possible. Queens will usually experience their first heat around that time. Cats don’t go into menopause at any point, like a human does. Unfortunately, pets can continue to get pregnant even when they’re a senior.
Caring for a Pregnant Cat
If you have noticed signs that indicate your cat is pregnant, or it’s been confirmed by their veterinarian, you need to discuss their nutritional needs.
Switching to the Best Cat Food
If you have concerns regarding diet, the first step is making the switch to a well-balanced, nutrient loaded cat food. Your vet can help you choose the best cat food for pets who are pregnant, so you can feed them a formula that contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients. This will ensure your cat gets the proper nutrition that can support developing fetuses. Your vet may even recommend switching to a kitten food, since a pregnant cat requires more calories in order to sustain the kittens as well as herself. A pregnant cat should also be fed smaller meals, frequently, since there is less room in her stomach due to the growing kittens. Feeding a large meal can result in vomiting or digestive upset.
During this time, cats should be encouraged to remain relatively active. This can ensure she is fit for the delivery. Of course, rowdy activities should be avoided toward the end of the pregnancy. As the due date draws near, try to help your cat remain calm. Any activities that are high energy can easily cause stress. During the pregnancy, make sure you keep a close eye on your cat’s energy level and appetite. If your cat has a drop in food consumption or she looks visible agitated or distressed, this can indicate an issue with the pregnancy.
The week of the expected delivery, provide your pet with a nesting box that she can use to deliver in and care for her kittens. Make sure the box or container is large enough for the cat to deliver in and big enough to accommodate a large litter. The walls should also be tall enough to prevent any kittens from escaping. Make sure it’s located in a warm area and be sure to line it with a large amount of towels or soft blankets. Keep in mind, this bedding will probably need to be tossed out after the delivery.
Try to place the box in a familiar location, one that’s out of the way and quiet with no humans or other pets around. Show your cat where the box is located.
Because your pet is domesticated, she may not have all of the instincts that a feral cat will, however, in most cases, a cat will not require any intervention on your part during the labor. Most cats will actually seek out a quiet spot where they will be left alone. Mom will lie on her side at this time, to make the birthing process easier.
Your cat will need their privacy and will not want you hovering or petting them. Privacy will matter and will make your feline feel more comfortable. However, you should still stick close by so you can monitor the process and watch for any signs of distress or complications.
If your cat decides to deliver in another location, not the nesting box you provided, don’t be surprised. If this happens, you can move the kittens into the box that you have already prepared. It’s totally fine to handle and pick up newborns. Mom will not injure them or abandon them if you touch them.
Care Tips After Delivery
At the end, after your cat has delivered her litter, you can take the mom and babies to the vet for a checkup one to two days after the delivery. If your feline accidentally got pregnant, now would also be a good time to discuss with your veterinarian when you can have her spayed to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the future.
Symptoms of Birthing Complications
If a pregnant feline is healthy, then it’s unlikely that she’ll suffer from any type of birthing difficulty. However, complications can include uterine inertia and mechanical blockage. Sometimes a blockage can occur when the diameter of the kitten is too wide for the birth canal. Uterine inertia can occur when the uterus is very weak and unable to contract.
Uterine inertia and mechanical blockage are most likely to occur in cats who deliver small litters of oversized kittens, cats who are obese, or older cats. These conditions can often occur in breeds with flat faces and big heads, like Persians. It usually happens with the first or last kitten.
During this time, if you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your vet immediately:
- No births after an hour of hard straining
- Abrupt fatigue or lethargy
- A constant flow of blood that occurs ten minutes after delivery
- A kitten is visible in the birth canal after a period of straining for ten minutes or more
- The cat has a body temperature of 104 degrees or under 97 degrees
- The feline is weak, anxious, or labor ceases abruptly
- Kittens should be coming out of the birth canal every 15 minutes up to two hours apart. Once the amniotic sac has ruptured, the delivery should take place within half an hour.
- If more than three hours pass between kittens, there’s cause for alarm. However, if the cat seems relaxed and is tending to her kittens, with no signs of distress, then the coming kittens should be fine.
Treatment of Birth Difficulties in Cats
Medication may be necessary if a cat is experiencing a form of uterine inertia that is caused by a lack of calcium, oxytocin or both. A veterinarian may inject oxytocin to stimulate stronger contractions. This type of injection comes with some level of danger since it can cause the uterus to rupture.
If the complications can’t be resolved with obstetric treatment or drugs, the vet may need to perform a c-section. This is a common procedure that’s used when dealing with birthing complications and it’s often the best choice for the feline.
The vet will determine whether or not a C-section is necessary based on:
- Lack of response to medication
- Dry birth canal
- Test results and x-rays
- Condition of the mother
- Duration of the labor
Typically, a c-section will not present any problems, especially if the cat is healthy and young. The vet will use general anesthesia to operate. There may be some issues if the labor is drawn out and toxicity occurs. This often involves stillborns who have started to decay, or in the event the uterus ruptures.
Within a period of three hours after the delivery, a feline should be capable of nursing and will be alert and stable. The cat will need plenty of rest and no exercise as the sutures heal. The sutures may be dissolvable, or they may need to be removed at a two week checkup.
This guide has covered how to tell if your cat is pregnant, how you can care for your cat during her pregnancy, and how you can help during the labor. With this information, you can rest assured that your cat will have a safe and healthy pregnancy and labor. Remember, paying close attention to your cat’s activity level, behaviors, and appetite can ensure your cat is getting the care that they need during their pregnancy and can help to prevent any complications along the way.