Has your cat been pregnant before or previously given birth to kittens?
One thing is for sure, knowing the length of a cat’s pregnancy won’t help at all unless you know the date when she mated with her chosen suitor. As a rule, your cat keeps that information a secret!
If your cat is pregnant, then you have some planning to do. Most pet parents do not intend on their cat becoming pregnant, so planning might need to be done at a moment’s notice.
Examples of planning include preparing new litter and giving your cat special attention if she is going to have kittens soon. A formulated cat food diet and nutrition program are also really important for a pregnant cat. A pregnant cat needs proper nutrition to be able to sustain a healthy pregnancy, provide nutrients for her kittens before and after birth, and be healthy enough for the act of giving birth.
How Long Are Cat Pregnancies?
So, how long will you have to wait to see your newly born, cute and fluffy kittens?
Feline pregnancy is generally 63 to 65 days – about nine weeks – but it is not unusual for kittens to be born after only 58 days or as late as 70 days of gestation.
The most common symptom of a pregnant cat is her behavior. For example, she may become more loving and affectionate, or to the contrary – more aggressive. In addition, she will begin to show signs of sudden excitement.
This behavior is known as “quickening”, and it is a critical stage of a cat’s pregnancy in which the fetus begins to move.
Like pregnant women, pregnant cats can experience morning sickness.
During the third to fourth week of pregnancy, your cat’s belly will begin to swell slightly. The swelling will also be more apparent in her pink nipples. Your cat’s appetite will also begin to increase. A growth formula prescribed by an expert is important.
Your cat’s pregnancy will become obvious at the sixth week. The symptoms of a pregnant cat will now encompass many changes in her behavior. A pregnant cat will begin moving around with great care.
She will try to avoid twisting and stretching actions. If she usually ventures outdoors, she will tend to prefer remaining indoors. The cat’s appetite will also continue to increase throughout the sixth week. Be aware that, as her belly grows, she will probably need smaller and more frequent meals; continue to feed her a diet that’s specially formulated for pregnant cats.
In addition to these behaviors, she will stretch, roll, and begin to search for a safe place to give birth. Therefore, it is advised to keep your cat indoors to ensure that she does not make her nest outdoors.
A cat has 5 pregnancy stages. Each stage has specific symptoms that can guide you to tell when your cat’s labor is close.
Kittens usually reach maturity after a period of 6 months of growth. This is not always the case, as some reach maturity at the age of 12 months. As your kitten reaches maturity, heat cycles develop and your female cat can get pregnant.
This is a 4-week period after fertilization. Several symptoms may be observed, including weight loss, morning sickness, and lack of appetite due to nausea.
In the second week, cats develop pink nipples that are swollen and sensitive to the touch.
In the third week, lumps are felt when touching your cat’s abdomen.
When an ultrasound checkup is performed by a veterinarian at 3 to 4 weeks, the presence of kittens is observed. Your cat will start gaining weight as she begins to regain appetite.
At this stage, there is increased weight gain. An abdominal x-ray will show a clear presence of kittens and how many there are.
Also called the nesting stage, this is when your cat will start looking for warm places to give birth. The pre-labor stage usually starts 1 week before delivery.
Several signs may be observed, including drops of milk in the nipple area, loss of appetite, and rectal temperature drop.
This is the final stage of cat pregnancy. It is characterized by the cat licking her abdomen and genitals, which will stimulate birth.
Watch Out for These Signs
Several tell-tale signs will help you know when your cat is close to giving birth:
- Her appetite has almost doubled in the past few weeks.
- Her kittens are moving around in her abdomen quite clearly.
- She will display ‘nesting’ behavior, such as looking for a warm, quiet safe place to give birth. For this reason, it’s recommended that you provide a suitable ‘nesting box’ for your pregnant cat.
- A drastic or complete loss of appetite when her labor pain is due to start.
- ‘Clingy’ behavior where your cat will feel the need to be with you, always looking for your affection and attention. As time brings her closer to the actual birth, she may start pacing around and seem particularly nervous or excited.
- Your cat may ‘call’ for you. Regardless if you have ever been around when your cat gave birth in the past, you will not be able to mistake this specific sound.
- She will start cleaning her rear as she feels her body change in preparation for the delivery of her kittens.
- She is uneasy and will start moving in and out of her nesting box.
How do you know your cat is in labor? Well, it is your responsibility as a pet parent to familiarize yourself with your cat’s pregnancy and birthing process.
If you have prepared adequately for the birth of the kittens, you will be aware of what to expect, detect unusual behavior, and know what to look out for if things don’t go as they should, and the vet needs to be called in to assist.
In anticipation of your cat’s pregnancy, proper preparation will ensure that the kittens’ birth will be worry-free. For additional info, check out this cute info-graphic from our friends at kobipets.com.