What do I do when my cat is pregnant? What are the stages of pregnancy for cats? Do I have to go to a vet? Perhaps nothing is more exciting for a cat parent than the arrival of more kittens into the feline family. Or perhaps nothing is more stressful.
During a cat’s pregnancy, the boundaries of the norms are broken. The natural is being tested. And what we used to do with our cat does not seem to work anymore.
If your cat is pregnant, you should expect a lot of changes happening and should know how to act accordingly. This is why knowing the stages of pregnancy for cats is important.
Should You Expect Pregnancy?
A female cat (known as a queen) can easily get pregnant when she is in heat, which happens several times a year. She is in heat for at least every three weeks. Queens can get pregnant when she is as young as four months old.
If you do not want to add to the cat population, you should have your cat spayed when she is around that age.
There are plenty of signs of cat pregnancy, which an owner should know if he or she is to be ready to welcome kittens into the world.
How to tell if your cat is pregnant without a vet?
What are cat pregnancy symptoms? After two weeks of being pregnant, a queen’s nipples will grow and redden, known as pinking up. And like human mothers, she may become sick occasionally.
She may also increase in weight. This is perhaps the strongest indication of pregnancy. Behavioral signs will also be noticeable as the expectant cat will like to spend more hours indoors and sleep more as energy levels drop during pregnancy.
You should totally consider her inactivity and more need for rest as part of feline gestation.
Her abdomen will start to swell as she nears labor. Avoid touching her abdomen firmly to avoid damaging the unborn kittens.
As she nears the point of giving birth, the queen will become restless and might refuse her food. She will also begin to look for a comfy and quiet place in which to give birth.
Before giving birth, she may act more maternal. In this stage, you can expect her to purr more than usual.
A cat’s pregnancy can last as long as 67 days, and as short as 63 days.
What to Do
Early on in the stages of pregnancy for cats, you should make sure that a vet examines your cat. Make sure she has no health issues that will not affect the health of the kittens.
You should also make sure that the expecting mother does not have fleas, lice, or ticks.
It is preferable that she eats kitten food for the duration of the pregnancy until she finishes nursing her litter. While pregnant, the queen’s food intake should be increased to around 1.5 times the usual feeding.
Just before she is due to give birth, make sure that you have a comfortable birthing box ready for your expectant cat to occupy.
In all things, it is best, for your cat and her unborn babies, to consult a veterinarian. In her feeding, supplements, behavior, and all other aspects.
What NOT to Do
Never, under any circumstances, touch your belly at any point of the stages of pregnancy for cats. This is to make sure that no harm will come to the unborn kittens during gestation.
It is also safer to stop any form of worming during pregnancy, to avoid the risk of harming the litter.
And finally, DO NOT interrupt or intervene in the birthing process unless there is a complication. If there happens to be a complication, it is better that the veterinarian will be the one who intervenes.
Stages of Pregnancy
Stage 1: Pre-implantation. This is the period when the female egg is fertilized and travels down to the cat’s uterus, after six days of development.
Pre-implantation is also the period when the embryo (kitten) and the placenta is formed. This stage lasts up to twelve days.
Stage 2: Embryogenesis. This is perhaps the most critical period. This is when the major organs of the kitten are formed.
The heart, nervous system, the spine, and the blood vessels of the kittens will form within just two or three days.
The liver, digestive tract, respiratory system, sense organs, bladder, skull, limbs, etc. of the kittens will begin to be formed.
The kitten will grow from just an eighth of an inch to five-eighths of an inch within this stage. This stage goes from the twelfth day to the twenty-fourth day of pregnancy.
During this stage, you can expect the fur around the queen’s belly and nipples to become thinner.
Stage 3: Fetal growth. In this stage, which goes from the twenty-fourth day of pregnancy to birth, the organs of the kittens become developed and some will begin to function. Some organs will continue developing even after birth, like the eyes.
The nervous system as well as the hormonal glands will start to work and control their respective processes.
At four weeks after conception, the kittens will be barely over an inch in size, too small to be felt from without. On day 49, their heads can already be felt by a veterinarian.
As the pregnancy progresses, the mother’s abdomen will become pear-shaped. At about that time, the kittens’ movement within their mommy’s body will be observable from the outside.
Last Two Weeks of Pregnancy: The Most Crucial Period
During the last two weeks of pregnancy, the mother cat’s mammary glands will become more enlarged and will start producing milk.
Pregnant Cat Labor Signs
The first sign of labor is a temperature drop to around 37.8 degrees Celsius. You should then expect abdominal contracting and vaginal discharge within twenty-four hours.
Right before giving birth, the mother cat will become agitated and more vocal. She will also begin to groom herself more for relaxation.
If her vaginal discharge is heavy and blood-colored, you should contact a veterinarian.
After the discharge, the bundles of fur are ready to come into the world!