How To Care For A Pregnant Cat
How Can You Tell If A Cat Is Pregnant?
Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes
Summary: In this blog, we explore and explain pregnant cat care! We’ll establish how to care for a pregnant cat, how long cats are pregnant, how to tell if a cat is pregnant, and everything else you may need to know whilst looking after a pregnant cat. Read on to discover more about cat pregnancy and the specific pregnant cat care needs…
Did you know that when a cat is pregnant, she is referred to as a “Queen?” But, how long do cats stay pregnant? And is there specific pregnant cat behavior you should look out for? Here’s what to expect when your cat (or your Queen!) is expecting…
How Long Are Cats Pregnant For?
So, a cat typically gestates for just over 8 weeks; around 65 days. However, it can be hard to work out when her kittens were conceived…
If you have not had your cat spade, she will enter a heat cycle every two to three weeks between Spring and Fall. When she’s in heat, she will stretch and roll out more frequently, attempt to leave the house more often so she can find a mate, and “meow” a lot more.
If you’ve noticed her going through cycles like these and she stops suddenly, it’s possible your cat may now be a queen…
How To Tell If A Cat Is Pregnant
Like humans, cats don’t typically show signs that they’re pregnant until they’re a few weeks in (usually around the fourth or fifth), so it’s difficult to work out when she’s due without attending a vet.
However, the typical signs your cat will show if she is pregnant include:
- An increased appetite
- A large, round abdomen
- Weight gain
- And a week prior to birth, her nipples will become bigger and red in color
Only your vet will be able to confirm pregnancy earlier than the fourth or fifth week. They will also be able to provide an ultrasound to confirm how many kittens your queen is expecting.
At What Age Can A Cat Get Pregnant?
A cat can get pregnant from 4 months old, although most cats don’t enter their first heat cycle until 6 months old. If you don’t want your cat to get pregnant, and if she’s an outdoor cat, in particular, getting her spayed is essential.
How To Care For A Pregnant Cat
First things first, if you suspect pregnancy, get her looked over by a vet. As well as providing you with a due date and litter size, they can also give her overall health a once over and provide you with any further advice and support during this exciting time.
During your cat’s pregnancy, her appetite will increase, so keep her on a high protein diet and increase the food amount that is available to her. This will ensure she’s getting the right nutrients she needs to produce good quality milk for her kittens. In addition, make sure you’re providing her with lots of freshly poured water throughout the day - cats aren’t too fond of stagnant water. They like it to be moving. This will help keep her well hydrated too.
It’s also advisable that you lower her litter box and widen the entrance to make it more comfortable for her to access. Clean her litter box more frequently (a minimum of twice per day) and wash it out once a week.As she approaches her due date, she may go off her food so don’t be alarmed if this happens a few days before labor.
Expect your cat to sleep more as she enters the later weeks of her pregnancy. She also may start licking her nipples more frequently too. They’ll be becoming a little uncomfortable as they fill with milk ready for her babes. Rest assured, this is normal.
How To Help Your Cat Through Labor
As you approach her due date, establish a place for her to give birth that she can easily access and is in a place she is familiar with. A big, low-sided cardboard box with lots of towels you don’t mind getting mucky is great. Signs she’s approaching labor include an increase in self-grooming and more frequent vocalizations.
When she enters labor, it is likely she will pant and pace. Try and gently get her into the assigned birthing area you’ve prepared. Her nipples may begin to leak and she’ll secrete a greenish-black vaginal discharge - this is normal. However, if the discharge is red, cream-colored, or yellow this can indicate a complication and you should call your vet.
After the discharge stops, the kittens should begin to appear. Kittens should definitely have appeared within 24 hours of the first signs of labor. Most cats will not need any midwifery assistance from you, but if she’s in particular distress or no kittens are appearing, call your vet for advice.
Birth should take around 4 hours from the first kitten. If she still looks like she’s straining and 8 hours has passed, or if you know there’s more of the litter to deliver, it’s time to call the vet for assistance.
Once the kittens have been born, they may stray away from their mother. Change the towels for clean ones and pop in some blankets in the box. You could also place a hot water bottle on the edge furthest from where Mom is in the box too. This can help keep the kitten’s body temperature up, but make sure they can move away from it if it gets too hot for them.
Do not use an electric blanket as an alternative heat source - this is dangerous.
Also, never press down on your cat’s pregnant belly and do not handle the kittens yourself after birth. She will want to bathe and nurse them in private, particularly for the first 7 days.
If you have children or other pets, try and keep them away from her for, at least the first week. There will be plenty of time for kitten play after this period!
Do Cats Know When You’re Pregnant?
So, you or your partner is pregnant! But, can your cat tell? The answer is debated, but maybe!
They won’t be able to tell you’re pregnant per se, but they’ll be able to sense the changes in your hormones, your scent, your body temperature and your mood. Later on in your pregnancy, it’s thought that because of their advance hearing, they are able to hear your baby’s heart beat.
Petlab Co. Pro Tip: If you’re a cat owner and you’re pregnant, you should no longer be changing their cat litter. This task should be assigned to another member of your household and they should wash their hands immediately after doing so. You run a risk of developing toxoplasmosis and passing it on your baby if you continue to change a cat’s litter tray whilst pregnant. You can read more about toxoplasmosis and the risks during human pregnancy here, via Healthline.
Can A Dog Get A Cat Pregnant?
No. Cats and dogs are two different species and too genetically dissimilar - this is impossible.