Having cats is a very exciting and emotional time for you and your cat. Before you can receive bundles of fur in your home, you need to know how to tell if your cat is pregnant, and what you can do to ensure that her cat is as happy as possible.
How to Find Out Your Pregnant Cat’s Due Date
If you know your pregnant kitten’s mating date, calculating the approximate due date of the birth of her cat is just a matter of counting days on the calendar. If you suspect your cat may be pregnant, but you do not know when or if she becomes pregnant, your observations and some basic diagnostic imaging will help confirm her pregnancy and determine the date of birth.
It’s important to remember when planning to have kittens that your cat and her litter will have demands that you will need to be prepared to handle. To help you support your pet throughout her pregnancy and labor, we’ve covered everything you need to know about expectant cats.
Carry the cat
Cats, like us, often have peak fertility times when they can become pregnant – this is known to be in season or in the heat. Cats can enter the season almost every three weeks, so there are plenty of opportunities for your pet to become pregnant!
If you want to avoid unexpected cat litter, we recommend neutralizing your cat before its first season, as it can become very easily pregnant after that point. Since raising a litter can be stressful for your cat and is costly for you, we recommend that you leave the breed for experts if possible.
How long does a cat carry?
A cat’s pregnancy usually lasts between 63 to 67 days, but it can be difficult to know exactly how long the cat lasts. The cat’s gestation period can vary from 61 days to 72 days.
Your cat (queen) often does not show any physical symptoms of pregnancy until a few weeks have passed since she was born. If you think your cat is pregnant, take her to the vet for confirmation.
If you want to know how to tell if a cat is pregnant with yourself, there are several physical signs that you should be able to detect after two or three weeks have passed.
How to tell if your cat is pregnant:
- About 15 to 18 days after your cat is pregnant, you may notice that your pet’s nipples swell and become red – this is known as “pink fainting.”
- Similar to morning sickness in humans, a pregnant queen may experience a period of vomiting. If you notice that her illness has become recurrent, or that she is absolutely sick in any other way, contact your veterinarian.
- The queen’s stomach will start to swell, but avoid touching it so that you do not risk hurting the unborn mother or cat. There could be other causes behind abdominal swelling, so watch your cat closely for any signs of illness and consult your veterinarian if you are concerned.
- Mothers will gradually earn 1-2 kg (depending on how many cats they carry) – this is a strong sign of being pregnant.
- The queen tends to increase appetite later in her pregnancy, which will also contribute to her weight gain. Increased appetite may also be a sign of worms or disease, so check back with your veterinarian for sure.
- Your pregnant cat may behave more motherly, which means it purrs more and demands more noise and attention from you.
- Some veterinary practices can diagnose a cat’s pregnancy using ultrasound, sometimes within 15 days of its birth. Your vet may also be able to give you an indication of how many cats your cat expects by the 40th day of her pregnancy. Keep in mind that if a cat is pregnant, a kitten can block other kittens in the womb, so you may have more cats than expected!
Although your cat should be more than capable of handling labour herself, make sure that you are prepared as she approaches the end of her term. It’s good to be on stand-by to offer soothing words and step in to help if she runs into complications.
Signs of Early Pregnancy
You may not notice any unusual signs or behavior during the first two weeks of pregnancy. During the third week, her nipples will start to appear pink and swollen. By the fourth week, your veterinarian can feel palpable lumps in your cat’s abdominal area. An ultrasound can verify that these lumps are kittens instead of abnormal masses. Ultrasound is safe for the mother and her kittens and is an effective method for detecting heartbeats.
The Next Four Weeks
Over the course of the next four weeks, your expectant mother will be eating for multiples, evidenced by noticeable weight gain and a rounder appearance on the sides. Healthy weight gain during the gestation period is 20 to 25 percent of the cat’s normal weight. After day 45 of the pregnancy, an ultrasound can reveal the fetal skeletal structures that have begun to calcify. This will determine how many kittens she is carrying. In the absence of ultrasound, an abdominal radiograph can provide the same information.
Preparing for Delivery
During her last week of pregnancy, your cat will start to scope out potential locations where she prefers to give birth to her kittens. These choice spots are usually isolated, warm, and cozy. By the close of that week, you may notice drops of milk from her nipples and enlarged mammary glands. Her appetite will decrease sharply. She may stop eating during the day or two before delivering her kittens. Once her rectal temperature drops to 98.5 to 100 degrees, she should go into labor within 24 to 48 hours.
When you notice your cat licking intently at her abdomen and genital area, her labor is commencing. She may pace and become vocal. More than 99 percent of feline births succeed with no human intervention or complications, but you should observe the entire process from an unobtrusive distance. Once her contractions have begun, she should give birth to the first kitten within an hour. Each subsequent kitten can take from 10 to 60 minutes to make its appearance. The entire litter should be delivered within six hours. If the labor extends past seven hours, or if the mother appears to be in pain or distress at any time during her labor and delivery, she and the kittens should be taken promptly to your veterinarian or to the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital.