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Cat Pregnancy - How To Best Prepare For Your Cat's Pregnancy

What is the most important thing to know if your cat is pregnant?

The most important thing to know is if your cat is pregnant because if she is, we can ensure she's on track to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. But knowing that she is pregnant lets us get things started.

Dr. Julia Zuercher
Animal Hospital Of Statesville

How can you ensure the well-being of a pregnant cat?

The best things that you can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy is deworming and getting on a good quality kitten food. Mom is growing kittens, and when cats are pregnant, they usually have larger litters of four or more kittens. That takes a lot of calories on her part, but you also want to make sure that the kittens are getting good nutrition. So kitten food for mom is important, and then deworming at the end of the pregnancy because mom can pass worms to the kittens both through the placenta and through the milk when she's delivered the kittens. Deworming can help minimize how many get passed to the kittens.

If you have an outdoor cat, should it come inside while pregnant?

Not necessarily. A lot of these cats are feral cats or barn cats, so they wouldn't necessarily do well in a home setting. You have to consider that they're just going to try to get outside the whole time. The other thing is, I don't mind pregnant cats being active because the more active they are, the better shape they're in, and then usually, the easier their delivery will be. In contrast, if they're a little bit lazy and out of shape, they can face some problems. So not necessarily, especially if it is an outdoor cat.

How soon should you bring your pet in to see a veterinarian if you suspect she is pregnant?

As soon as you suspect she's pregnant. Cats have some subtle signs early in pregnancy, which we talked about in another video. Still, the vast majority of the time, you can tell when they start showing, and if they start showing and that belly's growing because it's full of kittens, you're usually within a week or two of having the kittens. That would be a good time to know so that you can prepare because the end of the pregnancy is closing in.

What are some signs of pregnancy in a cat?

Early pregnancy can be subtle and tend to be missed just because it's so subtle. Some cats don't eat as well. They may be slightly more lethargic, which is kind of like morning sickness for cats. Pregnancy in cats lasts only two months, and time flies. As they get toward the home stretch, around six weeks or so, they'll start showing, and that belly will start growing. In all honesty, that's when most people recognize it, especially an outdoor cat that you can't see all the time. You'll start to notice their belly grow, and those are things you look for.

Why is it important to talk to a veterinarian if you think your cat is pregnant?

The biggest thing would be to have a plan. Sometimes there can be complications with pregnancies, delivery, and neonatal care. So having a plan lets you know how we think she's going to do with this pregnancy? Can we tweak anything to ensure mom and kittens are as healthy as possible? It helps you know how to plan accordingly. The sooner you know, the sooner you can make plans to find homes for the cat and the kittens.

How will you, as a veterinarian, determine if a cat is pregnant?

It depends on where she is with her pregnancy. Sometimes we ultrasound earlier in pregnancy to see if she's pregnant. As they get later in the pregnancy, especially if they're showing and the bones of the kittens are starting to form, we do an x-ray, but that doesn't happen until the last couple of weeks. With an x-ray, we can get an accurate count too. So if you're home watching and there are supposed to be six kittens, you can make sure six come out. Every once in a while, one gets stuck or something, and you know how many to expect.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 802-1280, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Pregnancy - FAQs

Dr. Julia Zuercher
Animal Hospital Of Statesville

What are the main signs that my cat is pregnant?

Usually, the sign people pick up on most is when the cats start showing, and at that point, you're a couple of weeks away. You're kind of in the home stretch. So we were laughing that if you can tell, you're too late. A lot of the early signs can be very subtle. They're potentially not as active and not eating as well. Most people pick up on it at the end when they start to show their pregnancy a little bit more.

How will I know that my cat is in heat?

You can usually tell they're in heat. Female cats in heat can be obnoxious. They howl and put their hind end in your face and walk with it up. They're flashing because they want somebody to come around. The vocalization and the stance tend to be the biggest signs.

How soon after impregnation will my cat show signs?

Cat pregnancy lasts about two months, so once they become pregnant after their heat cycle, unless you see those subtle signs, they'll start showing their pregnancy in the last few weeks. Around six to seven weeks from when their heat cycle ended, you would start to see the belly growing. They would probably stop the screaming and yelling, and that might make you suspicious because if they don't find a suitor during their heat cycle, they will go back into heat every couple of weeks. So if it's been a while, that may be a sign.

What should I do if I suspect my cat is pregnant?

If you suspect your cat's pregnant, the best thing you can do is bring your cat in. That way, if she is pregnant, we can give you that answer and get her on track to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery of the kittens.

How long is a cat pregnant for?

Two months.

How long after my cat starts showing will it give birth?

You're likely in the home stretch. If they start showing, you're usually a week or two away. That's one of the last things you see in that third trimester, and then the next thing you know, the kittens are here.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 802-1280, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Pregnancy - FAQs 2

Dr. Julia Zuercher
Animal Hospital Of Statesville

How can I tell if my cat is about to go into labor?

The first thing you'll notice may be nesting. She tries to go into a quiet area and make an area to have the kittens. She'll dig at blankets, lay down, get comfortable, and things like that. Usually, they'll go to out-of-the-way areas because she doesn't want to have kittens in the middle of the living room where the dog runs by. So they tend to go somewhere out of the way. After that, you may start seeing contractions. She will start pushing, and then eventually, kittens coming out.

Does a cat have to go to the veterinarian when she's in labor?

Not necessarily. A lot of cats can have kittens at home without complication, but every once in a while, just like with people, there can be complications with labor if a kitten gets stuck, she's too tired, or a million other things could come into play that where there may need to be veterinary intervention, potentially a C-section to make sure that the kittens come out okay and mom makes it through.

Is it safe for my cat to give birth at home?

Yes, but watch. She should have a kitten within 30 minutes of actively pushing and about two hours between kittens. So if she's not pushing, she can take a little bit of a break, but about two hours between each kitten coming out is what you should look for. Anything beyond that would be a red flag. Other things to watch for would be black discharge coming out. Black discharge is not good, and the same goes for bleeding. Delivery in cats is not usually a bloody process, so if you're seeing blood, that may be a sign that we need to do something about it.

What should I do to help my outdoor cat before and during labor?

You have limited control over feral cats or barn cats, but you can try providing some blankets and an area for her to have those kittens. A nesting is basically an area for her to nest and have the kittens, where you want to have blankets so everyone is comfortable during the process and make sure it's in an out-of-the-way area so that she feels safe enough to deliver the kittens and it's not a trafficked area. That goes for both an indoor and outdoor cat. It depends on the cat. If it's a pet cat, they can be inside. If it's a feral cat that would lose its mind being inside, then we have to work with what they let us do, and they may not let you do anything. They may take off, have the kittens, and then bring everybody home to meet grandma and grandpa.

Where should my cat give birth?

In a nesting box in an out-of-the-way place.

Does my cat need human help during labor?

Not necessarily. However, you should watch. I would be hesitant to be too involved in the process because it can sometimes throw mom off. But be actively monitoring because there may be red flags that may be a sign that you need to take her to an emergency veterinarian or us if we're open during the day.

How long does cat labor take?

It depends on the number of kittens. If we think she's pregnant and we can catch it in time, we can get an x-ray to know how many kittens there are and, that way, how many to expect. If she's supposed to have six and you've had five, you know you should be waiting for one more, which is important to know because sometimes you don't know when she's done. That's part of what guides that process. On top of that, cat labor depends on the number of kittens you have because if you have an hour or two gaps between kittens, it could span longer than if she's pushing them out without any breaks. I would say it probably lasts a couple of hours to half a day, but sometime in that range, ultimately depending on how many kittens there are.

What should I do if my cat gives birth outside?

It can be hard in those cases because those moms will probably hide and have the kittens. Cats feel safe when they're hiding, so they're not going to have the kittens out in the open. Some outdoor cats will hide, and you don't see them, and then they come back with a couple of week-old kittens, and that's the first thing you see. So it depends on how involved they let you be and the situation with that particular cat.Continue to provide them with food. Kitten food will help with their strength. Give them as much kitten food as they will eat because a nursing mamma cat can not eat enough to compensate for how many calories she's burning while making milk. You literally cannot overfeed her during that period unless she is already heavy, in which case you can. But still offering free choice kitten food for her to eat can help replenish that energy.

Give them plenty of water and a place to rest, and hopefully, she'll come around and let you know that she's okay. As long as she looks healthy, she's probably taking care of everybody, just like she should.

What do I need to know or do once my cat has given birth?

Make sure that she's got plenty of food and water, and then once the kittens hit about two weeks, we start deworming them and give them vaccines as they get older. If you've got a litter, feel free to give us a call, and we can talk you through that process and get them started the right way.

When should you start handling the kitten?

As soon as mom lets you help adjust them. Obviously, you want them to still be a cat and know they're a cat because that's important for their socialization, but also exposing them to different things will help them be a little bit more well-rounded. Introduce them to people slowly, especially if mom's nervous, to make sure everybody's comfortable.

Will my cat naturally know how to take care of the kittens?

Most do. They will have the kitten and then start licking and cleaning it and nursing it. Especially if it's a first-time mom, she may not know what to do a hundred percent. So again, just watch her. If you feel like she's not doing things right, then we may need to intervene. But for the most part, a lot of cats do know what to do during the process, and we just help them along the way.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 802-1280, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

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