A Guide to Cat Pregnancy

It has been said that cats can sense pregnancy in humans, but can we sense when our cats are pregnant? Whether you are wanting to breed your cat, have an unexpected cat pregnancy, or are simply wondering how cat pregnancies work, this guide on cat pregnancy can help. Understanding how cats get pregnant, what a cat pregnancy entails, and what you need to do along the way can help you ensure that your cat has a healthy pregnancy, or maybe even help you prevent an unwanted cat pregnancy altogether.

Understanding Cat Pregnancy

It’s important to note that cats can easily get pregnant, more easily than most other breeds. That’s why you’ll see a large number of cats in pet stores and adoption centers. Once cats go into heat for the first time, at around 4 months, they will regularly go into heat from Spring to Fall. If you aren’t looking to breed your cat it’s a good idea to get her spayed as close to 4 months as possible to prevent an unplanned cat pregnancy. If you are planning to breed your cat, be sure to check with your vet to make sure she is healthy and up to date on any treatments. 

How long will my cat be pregnant?

Cats on average will be pregnant for roughly 60-67 days, which is about 2 months. This means once your cat is pregnant, you’ll have limited time to prepare for the little ones’ arrivals. First, you’ll want to know the signs of cat pregnancy.

How do I know if my cat is pregnant?

There are a few telltale signs that your cat may be pregnant. These cat pregnancy symptoms include:

  • Nipple enlargement at around 2 weeks
  • “Morning sickness” – occasional sickness
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling abdomen
  • Food aversions or changes in eating habits
  • Nesting – preparing a space for birth

If your cat has recently been in heat and shows any of these signs, there may be a good chance she’s pregnant. However, some of these signs may not show up until closer to the time she gives birth. If you suspect your cat is pregnant or if she shows any of these signs, be sure to set up an appointment with your vet to ensure your expecting mother is healthy.

Cat Pregnancy Test

There are cat pregnancy tests your vet can perform to see if your cat is pregnant, however it’s a blood test that can’t be performed until 20-25 days after insemination. The blood test is quick and accurate but your vet may be able to tell your feline is pregnant without the test if she is that far along or further. Schedule an appointment with your vet and they’ll help you decide on if a cat pregnancy test is needed. 

Cat Pregnancy Stages

As we said earlier, cats on average will be pregnant for 60-67 days, which is about 2 months. This is a very short pregnancy compared to other breeds, so knowing the signs and how you can prepare for her birth can save you from an unexpected delivery. Cat Pregnancy is broken down into three stages:

Stage 1 Fertilization

When your cat is in heat (every 2-3 weeks from Spring to Fall) she goes into ovulation as her eggs are ready to be fertilized. You may notice that she shows more affection and purrs more than usual during this time. If fertilization occurs during this stage, the fertilized eggs will implant to the uterine wall and begin to grow.

Stage 2 Embryos Develops

At about 3 weeks, the embryos start developing and will grow at a rapid rate. Your cat will begin eating more and will show weight gain if she hasn’t already. Her nipples may begin to swell as well. During this phase the embryos begin to take shape and will receive nutrients through the placenta.

Stage 3 Fetus Development

The final few weeks of your cat’s pregnancy will include rapid growth of the kittens which are now called fetuses. This stage is a tiring one for your cat and will require more nutritious foods and extra care. Your vet will check your cat at this stage and may even be able to feel the kittens with a careful examination. 

Pre-Labor and Labor

Once labor is near, your cat will begin the nesting phase where she’ll start to find a comfortable spot where she feels safe to give birth to her kittens. Take a box or basket and line it with towels or blankets you don’t mind getting ruined during the birthing process. This can provide your cat with a comfortable spot, however she may choose elsewhere. If she begins changing behaviors, whether she is more withdrawn or affectionate, this can be a sign labor is near. If she begins showing signs of milk releasing from her nipples, the kitten’s arrivals will soon be to follow. 

Your cat may stop eating 24 hours before labor and labor can last up to 36 hours if she’s a first time mom. Once labor occurs, keep an eye on her to make sure no complications occur but give her space as they like privacy during this time. After the kittens are born, you can move them to a more comfortable spot, such as the box you made up for them. Just be sure it’s near mom. Should any complications occur during labor, be sure to have an emergency vet’s number ready.

Congratulations!

Once your cat has delivered all of her babies, which on average is about 4 kittens per litter, be sure to make sure mom and her babies are comfortable and have a quiet place to rest. If your vet is open, you can give them a call to schedule a follow up appointment or you can give them a call the next day. Be sure to keep mom’s food, water, and litter box nearby so she doesn’t have to stray far from her babies. Also, continue to feed her the high-nutrient food your vet recommends. Congratulations on your new litter!

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