Of course, there are signs and symptoms for women when they are thinking they may be pregnant. There are tell-tale signs that make it easy for women to check it out and an even easier at-home test to take. With cats, it’s a little different.
Unlike women whose average age of getting their period is 12 years old, cats can go into heat and get pregnant as early as 4 months! They are also experiencing going into heat every 2-3 weeks making them pretty fertile animals.
Pregnancy for a cat is often referred to as “queening,” and can last anywhere from 63-65 days. So even a kitten as early as 6 months old can naturally give birth.
So How Do You Know They Are Pregnant?
Well, the most fail-safe way is to bring them to the vet so that they can confirm the babies are on their way! However, if you are at home here are some ways of being able to tell:
1. Feel their abdomen
One of the biggest signs early on is if their belly is looking swollen. If it is looking a little swollen you can gently feel it to see if there is a fetus in there. The most advanced vets usually can tell by this method as early as the 20th day of a cat’s pregnancy.
This should be done by a licensed veterinarian and can be confirmed as early as the 16th day. It will also tell you how many kittens your cat is carrying.
Again, this should be done by a professional veterinarian but it is not always the most accurate. Because x-rays are not the safest for your kitten, these should not be done until day 42 or later.
Another sign that your cat may be pregnant is by looking at its nipples. Most become enlarged and reddened 2-3 weeks after they conceive. Once you are noticing that, take them to the vet to confirm.
Caring for your Queen
Just as humans, believe it or not, your cat may be prone to morning sickness. She may not want to eat or could also vomit in the early stages of her pregnancy. If it is presenting often, make sure to consult with your veterinarian. Additionally, in those early stages, your queen may be feeling lethargic and tired but it should only last a few weeks.
The average litter carries 4 little ones so be mindful that your cat needs to fuel her body with more nutrients and minerals. Essentially, you should be feeding your cat about one and a half times what you normally would so that they are keeping themselves and their kittens well nourished. Remember to consult your veterinarian about what food may be best for your cat during this time, as it may be helpful to switch their diet to help them lactate when their kittens are born.
As always, make sure your cat is up to date on their vaccinations. Bacteria and viruses can often spread to kittens prior to them even being born so it is important your cat is up to date on their vaccinations even prior to breeding as some vaccinations are not safe during their pregnancy.
Preparing for Birth
If your cat is an outdoor cat, it is important to stop letting them out to avoid going into labor when they are not inside.
Like most of the animal kingdom, females like to have a nesting period. For cats, this settles in about 2 weeks prior to them giving birth and you may see them acting a bit strange.
Once you notice this, take them for a prenatal checkup with your vet so they can give you the best information to prepare your cat for delivery, check on the uterine health of the kittens, and give you all the details should there be an emergency.
You can help them get accustomed to a place in your house that would be a great birthing spot for them. Typically all they need is a good size box with some towels or soft blankets. It should be placed in a quiet spot in the house and allow your cat to become comfortable with it. Although you may have created this great space for your cat, some are stubborn and will not end up giving birth where you had prepared for them. Just don’t be surprised if you find them wanting to give birth in a different environment or spot in the house!
Signs to look for when they are ready: cats stop eating about 24 hours prior to giving birth and their temperature drops. Those signs will tell you kitties are coming fast!