Welcoming new kittens into your life is an exciting time for both you and your cat. However, before getting too excited, you need to know how to tell if your cat is pregnant, and how you can help her have a safe and comfortable pregnancy.
Your cat can get pregnant at just four months old unless she’s been spayed. During spring and through early fall, most cats will go into heat every 2-3 weeks and have a high chance of getting pregnant. If you want to avoid pregnancy, you should have your cat spayed before their first season, which is their most fertile period.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Pregnant
The process of a cat preparing to give birth is called “queening” and will last 63-65 days. There are a few ways to find out if she’s pregnant; the easiest way is to make an appointment with your vet.
During the appointment, the veterinarian can let you know if your cat is expecting kittens, and roughly how many by using x-rays and ultrasound. An ultrasound can confirm your cat’s pregnancy after day 16. Her belly will begin to get bigger at around 30 days after conception, and she may also have reddened or enlarged nipples.
She’s Pregnant, What Now?
You’ve confirmed your cat is pregnant, but now how do you care for it? Here are some tips to help you through her pregnancy:
- Watch for Morning Sickness: Although it is rare, some cats might have morning sickness that displays as a lack of appetite or vomiting. If this is frequently occurring, you should take her to the vet to make sure there are not any complications.
- Give Her Plenty of Food: A queening cat will gain weight later in her term, so you will probably notice an increase in food consumption. It is normal for a pregnant female to eat approximately 1.5 times their normal diet, so make sure there is plenty of food and fresh water available.
- Check Before Medicating: Weight gain or bloating can also be signs of worms or illness, so be sure to check with your vet before giving your cat any vaccinations, deworming, or flea/tick treatment.
- Look Out for Behavioral Changes: Your queen may also become more maternal, purring, begging for extra attention, and defending her territory.
Preparing for The Big Day
Your cat will most likely be completely capable of going through the labor process on her own, but it is a good idea to stay close and watch out for signs of distress. When it’s almost time to give birth, she may not want to eat and start acting strange. Looking for a secluded place, vocalizing, and cleaning herself repeatedly are all signals that the big day is here.
Delivery will start with strong abdominal contractions and some vaginal discharge. The kittens will come very quickly after that, and she will be very busy for the next 2 to 24 hours, checking them over and cleaning them. The kittens will come in 30 to 45-minute intervals, but some can be over an hour apart.
If her discharge becomes black or blood-colored and she is straining without producing any kittens, then she could be having problems. Call your vet for advice on what to do next; it’s a good idea to have a pet carrier handy in case you need to take her in quickly.
Let your new mommy be as independent as possible, but don’t be afraid to handle the kittens and get them started socializing. Celebrate and enjoy, and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact Dr. Weeks and their knowledgeable staff at the Pet Medical Center of San Antonio.