- Pregnancy time of the cat: the stages of its pregnancy
- How do I know my cat is pregnant?
- What are the stages of pregnancy?
- What should you prepare in your emergency birthing kit?
Pregnancy time of the cat: the stages of its pregnancy
Cats are very fertile and reproduce easily. Sterilization is a very important measure to avoid unwanted litters and that kittens end up in shelters, in the street or euthanized.
But when a litter is desired, it’s a great event to experience as a family. You may be wondering how long your cat will be pregnant and what will be the stages of her pregnancy. Hope this guide will help you know what to expect when your favorite pet is pregnant.
How do I know my cat is pregnant?
Here is a list of pregnancy symptoms in cats:
- Pink and large nipples: This usually happens between 15-18 days after ovulation and is one of the first ways to detect pregnancy in female cats. This sign is more obvious for the first gestation, because before they usually have very flat white nipples. But if this is your cat’s second or third pregnancy, it can be more difficult to tell the difference because after a first litter the nipples remain enlarged;
- Leaky hairs around the nipples: the hairs move away from the nipple, so that when the kittens are born they can easily find milk. If your pussy is lying on its side, you will suddenly notice that the nipples are sticking out through her fur;
- Increased appetite: your cat eats more than usual, or claims more often. It is not very specific, but it could be a sign that your cat is pregnant;
- Increased Sleep: A pregnant cat tends to sleep more and you will often find her resting in places where she did not usually sleep;
- Morning sickness: When female cats are pregnant, they can also in the early stages of pregnancy (and even later stages) feel nauseous, which can make them vomit. This usually happens when the stomach gets bigger and puts a lot of pressure on their digestive tract;
- Bulging abdomen: you will notice that your cat’s stomach starts to swell between 35 and 45 days of gestation. Kittens grow up because they get a lot of nutrients and you will see her belly stick out when she is lying on her side. If you are skeptical of the bulge and think it may be worms or parasites, we at least recommend going to the vet and getting an ultrasound. If the cat is full for more than 40 days, he will be able to detect the kittens during the ultrasound according to the number of visible skulls;
- Nesting Behavior: Towards the end of gestation, you may notice that your cat goes to secluded places where she would not normally have been (e.g. a dark closet or laundry basket).
Since female cats often show no symptoms of pregnancy until a few weeks gestation, take her to the vet to confirm the diagnosis as soon as you suspect she is pregnant.
What are the stages of pregnancy?
Pregnant cats go through many changes in a shorter period of time than a pregnant woman’s nine month gestation period. Here is a cat pregnancy calendar to anticipate the different stages and how you can help her. We consider here that the calendar begins at the onset of heat, which is the easiest event for owners to observe.
Stage 1 – Fertilization and implantation (weeks 1 to 2)
Around the second week, in case of mating, the sperm of the male cat will find the eggs of the cat, fertilize them to form an egg which will implant in the uterus where the pregnancy will develop. At this point, the cat shows no physical signs or symptoms of pregnancy.
Stage 2 – Organ development in kittens (weeks 3-4)
By the third week, the kittens’ bodies are slowly developing. Now is the best time to take your pregnant cat to a vet for an ultrasound. On the screen, you will see that the eyes, limbs and tail begin to form.
Your cat will then exhibit the following signs and symptoms:
- Weight gain (1 to 2 kg depending on the number of kittens);
- Enlargement of the nipple;
- Nipple color that turns pink;
- Sparse / receding hairs around the nipple;
- Morning sickness (sometimes vomiting).
How you can help:
- If the vomiting is prolonged or particularly severe, consult your veterinarian;
- At this early stage, you can still consider terminating the pregnancy and neutering your cat with your veterinarian, especially if it is an unexpected pregnancy;
- Do not lift your cat to avoid inadvertently injuring her kittens;
- If you have to take her somewhere, use a transport cage where she will be safe.
Stage 3 – Intermediate stage (week 5-7)
The fifth week shows almost complete development of the kittens’ organs. At the sixth week, you will sometimes be able to perceive visible movements in the belly of your cat. After the seventh week, the ultrasound will show the kitten’s skeletons and some fur (an x-ray can also be taken to count the kittens).
The obvious signs at this point are:
- Increased appetite as your cat builds the reserves she will need to nurse kittens;
- Increased belly size (“bloated belly”);
- Constant self-grooming.
How you can help:
- Increase your cat’s food intake, but do not overfeed it. Your veterinarian can advise you on suitable foods, which provide additional nutrition, iron and minerals;
Stage 4 – Pre-work (weeks 8 to 9)
The eighth week is when your cat will start looking for a place to nest and give birth. By week 25, your cat will gain up to XNUMX% body weight, and there will be more pressure on her stomach as the kittens continue to grow.
Here are more visible signs at this point:
- Clearly visible movement of the kittens;
- Increase in the size of the nipples with a few drops of milk secretions;
- Loss of appetite ;
- Increased sleep;
- Nesting behavior;
- Thinning of the belly coat.
How you can help her:
- Prepare for labor to start anytime;
- Feed her with small, frequent meals;
- If your cat appears anxious, it indicates impending labor. Reassure her when she settles into her nest.
Stage 5 – Labor and delivery (weeks 9-10)
The moment arrives, your cat will soon be a mother. When she is about to give birth, she may show the following:
- Super affectionate;
- Very loud, she meows a lot and other disturbances;
- Slight vaginal discharge;
- Groom a lot, especially lick her vulva;
- The temperature often drops 12 hours before giving birth.
Some breeds do not give birth for 10 weeks. If your cat has not given birth after 66 days, contact your veterinarian to have her checked.
What should you prepare in your emergency birthing kit?
If your cat is full, it’s always a good idea to have an emergency kit ready ahead of time with the items you might need. In many cases, you don’t have to do anything, nature does it right. But it’s good to have one on hand, “just in case.” Note that you should never try to help your cat unless you know there is a real problem. Cats are good enough to have babies without any human intervention.
In your kit, make sure you have enough clean sheets and towels. Flannel is great, especially after kittens are born, as they are less likely to get their little claws tangled in this material.
Make sure you have a clean pair of scissors handy to cut one of the cords if necessary, and store iodine to dab the small pimples on the kitten’s belly and prevent infection. You should also put disposable gloves in your emergency kit, in case you have to handle the kittens, as well as sterile gauze pads and unwaxed dental floss. The dental floss will be used to tie the cords if your mother does not do it on her own.
Another good idea to keep in your emergency kit is a notebook and pen so you can take notes about the birthing process and write down any other important information like the time and date. You can also make sure your vet’s information is written there in case you need to call for help.
Some owners also like to include a scale for weighing kittens born small. You can also add ingredients like a kitten milk recipe and an eyedropper with baby bottles, in case you have problems after birth and one of the kittens is having difficulty suckling.
Finally, contact your vet immediately if your cat appears to be having uterine contractions for an extended period of time but no more kittens come, or if she has smelly discharge, it could be an infection. You should also contact your veterinarian if you have any other concerns during labor or if anything does not seem right. Your veterinarian is your go-to point of contact for all questions about feline childbirth. Remember, prevention is always better than cure