Cats go into heat very often and can reproduce for up to 3 times a year. The number of kittens a cat can have per litter depends on the breed, health, and other external factors. However, on average, a female cat can birth 4 kittens per litter.
The process of Mother Cat getting ready to have kittens is known as queening. A healthy female cat can get pregnant when she is as young as 4 months old. Female cats experience heat cycles every 2-3 weeks and the gestation period for a cat is 63-64 days.
Spaying your female cat
Unless you want to breed your pet, a healthy cat female cat will have so many kittens throughout her lifetime. This can be very expensive; taking care of pregnant mother cat and her kittens. However, if you are not ready for this, spay your cat or limit her access to male cats.
Spaying is whereby your cat’s ovaries and uterus are removed through a veterinarian procedure as a method of birth control. Usually, it is low cost and requires minimum hospitalization for your cat and has lifelong benefits.
Reasons why you should spay your cat
1. Long and healthy life
Spaying your cat helps in preventing uterine infections and cancer which are fatal in cats. It is important to spay your kitten before her first heat to offer her protection from these diseases and give her a long and healthy life.
2. No more heat cycles
When your female cat is spayed, she will not go through the heat cycles during the breeding seasons. Most cats during this time yowl and urinate more all over the place to look for males.
Spaying will save you from all this trouble. Not only will it prevent the mood swings, anxiety and stress that come with each heat cycle, but it also reduces the chances of having your cat run away from home
The cost of getting your cat spayed in lesser than the cost of taking care of a pregnant cat and kittens. It will also reduce instances of stray cats in your community and on the streets. Every year, millions of cats and dogs are euthanized or live as strays. The high numbers are due to unplanned litters.
Prevent this by getting your female cat fixed. Moreover, this way you also won’t have to worry if you can’t find proper homes for each kitten she bears. After all, each kitty on the planet deserves to have a good life with responsible pet parents who surround it with care, love, and devotion.
4. Spaying is healthy
Your spayed cat will still maintain a healthy weight. Unlike the old belief that spaying will make your cat fat. This is an unsubstantiated excuse. Lack of exercise and proper diet contribute to overweight in cats.
Is my cat pregnant?
Here are common signs of pregnancy in cats
1. The heat cycles stop
Female cats who are not spayed experience heat cycles every 10-14 days. The heat cycles can last up to a week. When your female cat is on heat, you may notice changes in her behavior such as, she becomes more affectionate, and she makes a noise that sounds like she is in pain.
Additionally, she may roll on the floor a lot and she may seem to be looking for something around the house. However, if you notice that your cat hasn’t experienced heat cycles when she was supposed to, it could mean that she is pregnant.
2. Change in nipples.
Your cat nipples may become enlarged and red. This is known as “pinking up”. Usually, it happens around the 15th-18th day of a cat’s pregnancy.
3. She starts vomiting “morning sickness”
Additionally, some cats may experience morning sickness just like humans. This is characterized by vomiting. However, if the vomiting is frequent and your cat looks lethargic, call your vet immediately since it could be signs of illness.
4. Her belly gets bigger
Your queening cat’s tummy will start to grow in size. However, avoid touching your pregnant cat’s belly to avoid hurting her unborn kittens. Also, be very careful when carrying her if you have to.
5. She has an increased appetite
Moreover, your cat may experience increased appetite. You will notice that she feeds more than she used to especially toward the end of her pregnancy. This also contributes to her gaining weight.
However, an increase in appetite could also mean that she has worms. Therefore, confirm with your vet if you notice a drastic change in her feeding patterns.
6. She is more affectionate than usual
Another sign that you could experience with your queening cat is that she will be seeking extra attention from you. Pregnant cats act more maternal and may purr a lot and want more cuddles from you. Ensure that you give her attention to ensure she stays happy and not stressed during this period.
7. Confirmation through an ultrasound/ x-ray
An ultrasound is important from as early as 15 days into her gestation. Therefore, take your cat to the vet to have the ultrasound done. The vet will be able to diagnose the pregnancy and also determine how many kittens she is expecting by the end of her gestation period.
8. She starts nesting
Nesting is whereby a pregnant cat starts preparing a quiet and safe place where she will birth the kittens. However, nesting happens during the last days of the pregnancy. Ensure that the place she will place her kittens is clean, safe and warm for the safety of the kittens.
For a comfortable nest, you can use cardboard with clean sheets or towels. The box should be big enough for Mother Cat and her babies to fit in. However, your cat may choose another location other than the nest you have prepared for her. If you feel the kittens are not safe in the nest chosen by mom cat, place than in a safe nest. This, however, will not make your cat abandon her kittens.
Caring for a pregnant cat
Pregnant cats will need nutritious food to remain strong and healthy throughout the pregnancy. Foods with high protein and energy are preferable for queening cats. The mum cat will need extra nutrients to also nourish her unborn kittens.
It is recommended to switch the pregnant cat’s diet back to kitten food since it has high protein levels. Feeding her with kitten formula will also ensure that the kittens will get high-quality milk when she nurses.
It is important to show your pregnant cat extra love and affection. Since, as the pregnancy hormones kick in, your cat may look for more cuddles from you. Thus, it is important your meet her needs to ensure that she is happy and stress-free.
However, while petting and stroking her, avoid touching her tummy. This is because the area may be too sensitive hence cause her discomfort. Also, if you are not careful while stroking her tummy, you may hurt the unborn kittens. If you have to pick her up, scoop her from her bottom rather than touch her stomach.
As your cat nears the end of the pregnancy, avoid engaging her in vigorous activities and let her relax as much as possible.
Ensure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date before breeding. Mother cats pass on the immunity to their little kittens through their milk hence give them a good start in life.
You can consult your vet on getting her blood tested to check her antibody level. Your vet will advise if she will need a vaccine shot.However, some vaccines cannot be administered during pregnancy. Consult your vet on what vaccines are safe for the mother cat and her kittens.
Most worms can be easily pass from mother to her kittens. Therefore, it is important to ensure that her worm treatment is up to date even during pregnancy.
Ensure that before you administer any medicine to your pregnant cat, you consult your vet. It is also advisable to avoid over the counter drugs for your pregnant cat. Always consult your vet and get a prescription for your pregnant cat from them.
Signs of Labor– What you need to know
Mostly, cats can handle labor all by themselves. Make sure that you have everything ready as she approaches the end of the pregnancy. Although they can handle it alone, it would be great if you are around your cat when she is going through labor to offer soothing words. Also, it is important so that in case she experiences complications, you can contact your vet and get advice on how to help her have a safe delivery.
If you experience these signs with your pregnant cat, contact your vet immediately
- If her body temperature exceeds 39.4oC (103oF)
- There is fresh blood discharge from her vagina more than 5 minutes
- She is experiencing dystocia (difficulty delivering). However, this can be managed with or without surgery with the help of your vet.
- If she has been inactive labor and the fluid-filled bubble or kitten is visible but no progress.
Common complications during cat’s pregnancy
Your cat could suffer a miscarriage at any time during her pregnancy. It may be hard for you to notice if it happens earlier in the pregnancy that if it happens later. If you realize that the cat could have suffered a miscarriage, take her to the vet for a checkup and rule out the risks of infections.
2. Caesarean Section
Rarely, cats experience complications during labor. However, in some cases, a cesarean section may be required to save her and her kittens. A cat may be unable to give birth naturally if she has experienced trauma to her pelvis earlier. For instance, a fracture. Also, some cat breeds are huge or have huge heads which would necessitate a cesarean section.
Another instance that would necessitate a cesarean section for your cat is if she has been pushing for long without producing kittens. In case this happens with your kitty, call the vet immediately for assistance.
Eclampsia happens when calcium in the bloodstream is depleted during or after your cat’s pregnancy. It is a life-threatening condition and mostly occurs during the last stages of pregnancy. However, calcium supplements to your cat can help prevent this disease for cats at high risk.
Physical symptoms in cats may include drooling, loss of coordination, paid on walking a d stiffness in gait. Common behavioral signs include twitching, agitation, and nervousness. If eclampsia in cats is left untreated, it can lead to seizures. Contact your vet if you notice these signs in your cat. Although not common in cats as it is in dogs, lookout for signs of eclampsia in your kitty and contact your vet immediately.