For many of us, cats are a part of the family. We like to pamper them, spoil them and treat them like royalty. An interesting but little-known fact is that when female cats are not spayed or are pregnant, they are actually called queens! Your friendly felines are a royal breed, and caring for them when they are pregnant is important. East Valley Animal Hospital, located in Gilbert Arizona, is a knowledgeable vet near you ready to help with all of your veterinary needs, including pet pregnancy.
How Can You Tell If Your Cat Is Expecting?
The most reliable way to confirm if your cat is pregnant is to make an appointment with your veterinarian. A blood test can detect if your cat is pregnant sometimes as early as twenty days gestation. Confirmation can also be made with an ultrasound in mid-pregnancy, or an x-ray in the latter part of the pregnancy. One of the first noticeable signs of pregnancy in your cat will be her belly getting bigger. This occurs around 30 days after mating. Another sign that occurs about two to three weeks after conception is called “pinking up.” This is when her nipples become red and enlarged.
Pregnancy Frequency and Length
Felines can get pregnant as young as six months old and can continue to go into heat every two to three weeks during the months between spring and early fall. The average cat is pregnant for just over two months or around 63-65 days.
Caring for Your Pregnant Cat
When a cat is birthing her kittens, the process is called queening. As your cat’s uterus changes and she moves through the stages of pregnancy, her hormones will surge in the first few weeks, leaving her overly tired. Morning sickness in cats can also occur, but it is relatively rare. If your cat shows a lack of appetite or signs of vomiting, you will want to take her to your veterinarian. As pregnancy continues, your cat will want to eat more. Pregnant cats should typically eat one and a half times their normal amount. Since she’s eating for three to six (herself and her kittens), you will want to make sure she has constant access to her food. Consult with your vet about the kind of food that is best to feed your cat during the various pregnancy stages.
As she nears her due date, you will want to take your cat into the veterinarian for a final prenatal checkup. You will then be watching for changes in her behavior that will be your clue that your cat is just about ready to deliver. For one, she will stop eating about 24 hours ahead of time. Her temperature will also drop below 100° Fahrenheit.
Just like any expectant mother, your cat needs a comfortable place to give birth. You will likely notice her investigating various enclosed, cozy areas around the house: closets, cupboards, and open drawers. Set up a nesting box in a quiet place for her to find and allow her to get comfortable. The ideal nesting box should be of medium size with a low opening for easy entry. Having a lining of newspaper, soft blankets, or old towels is a great option. Your cat may have her own ideas of what’s best, so watch out so that she doesn’t pick a spot you really don’t want her to give birth in! Keep re-directing her to the nesting box.
If you are planning on breeding your cat or if you suspect they might already be pregnant, contact us at East Valley Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment. We are here to help with all your beloved feline needs!
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/7/2017) Marie Amelie Putallaz Tripon (Flickr)