Cat Pregnancy And Reproduction

Cat Pregnancy And Reproduction

The world is full of wonderful cats that are waiting for good homes so I do not encourage my clients to breed cats. Once your cat is five months of age or weighs five pounds it is better to take her to a veterinary hospital to be spayed because if she roams, she will soon become pregnant. Cats that are not spayed do not make good pets. They are either pregnant or cycle in and out of heat again and again from January to October in the Northern Hemisphere. Domestic short and longhaired cats are very fertile. Before you know it the cute little kitten you made your pet is about to have kittens of her own. Litter size averages four or five kittens. For some reason, Siamese cats have larger litters. Luckily, problems during pregnancy and birth are extremely rare in all breeds except Persian cats. Over ninety-nine percent of all cats deliver their kitten without assistance or complications. But when our beloved pet or a sheltered stray is set to deliver her kittens, it is comforting to know that things are proceeding without hitches and on schedule. Here are some of the things that should happen as your cat goes through a successful pregnancy.

Early In The Pregnancy:

Gestation or the length of pregnancy of a cat averages 64 days. It is generally between 62 and 67 days or about nine or ten weeks. You might notice subtle indications of pregnancy after the first three weeks. The cat’s nipples begin to swell and their color changes from white to a rosy pink. By the fourth or fifth week the cat’s belly will begin to swell. During this early time, the cat only needs a low stress environment and high quality cat food. Keep a dry kibble out all day and let her eat as much as she wants. To learn how to care for the expectant mother and her kittens read my articles: Bottle Feeding Orphaned Kittens and Pregnant Cats

A Veterinary Exam:

A veterinary exam early in pregnancy is a good idea to check the cat’s general health. By the twenty-sixth day of gestation a veterinarian can usually feel the spherical lumps in the cat’s oviducts that are the developing fetuses. Veterinarians that use an ultrasound can detect the developing kittens earlier and determine their number more accurately. By the 45th day the kitten’s skeletons will have calcified enough to be seen on x-ray. But I do not suggest that cats be x-rayed to determine the size of the litter. The risks of radiation and stress in this procedure are too great unless there is a clear indication that the pregnancy has gone awry.

Before Labor Begins:

If your are intent at being present when the queen delivers begin to take your cat’s temperature two weeks before it’s due date. Do it at the same time every day You can lubricate the thermometer with margarine or KY jelly and insert it about a half inch up the rectum. Leave it in place for three minutes. Your cat’s temperature should be between 101 and 102. Fahrenheit. When the pet’s temperature drops below 100F (98-95F) she should deliver her kittens in less than twenty-four hours. Expect your cat to gain about two to four pounds, or about 20 to 25 percent of her normal weight during pregnancy. But don’t let her get obese as that could make her labor more difficult cat baby babies pregnant birth labor

Labor And Birth:

Twenty-four to forty-eight hours before the onset of labor your cat will seem more anxious and restless. It will often poke its head about looking for a place to nest and have the litter. But be advised that in some cases nesting behavior can occur as early as three days before delivery. At this point confine her to the room you want her to birth in. This should be a darkened room with an impervious floor in a quiet area of the house. Place food and water in the room. Cats that are about to go into labor will usually lick their abdomen and vagina persistently. There is often a discharge that precedes birthing but the mother will lick it away as rapidly as it appears. Her cervix will be dilating but no outward signs accompany this. She will loose all interest in food and become serious and attentive to only her licking. If you are perceptive you may notice an increase in her breathing rate. It is quite common for the mother to sit with her mouth open and yowl loudly or pace the room. As her labor progresses and uterine contractions begin pregnant cats will lay on their sides and intermittently squat and press downward to expel the kittens. Do not interrupt or disturb the mother during these periods – just watch from a door left ajar. The first kitten should arrive within an hour after the onset of labor. Sometimes labor lasts only a few minutes before the kitten arrives. Other kittens should arrive with an interval of ten minutes to an hour between them. Each kitten arrives wrapped in a jelly-like membrane filled with clear fluid – the amniotic sac. Good mothers immediately begin licking the kitten forcefully, which shreds this sac allowing the kitten to breathe. This licking stimulates the kittens circulation and respiration. In the exceptionally rare case where the mother does not free the kitten’s mouth from the obstructing membrane the owner should do it for her and follow this with a vigorous rubbing of the kitten in a soft towel to dry it and stimulate respiration. The mother will also chew off the umbilical cord at this time. If she forgets to do this to one or more of the kittens, tie off the cord with a length of dental floss and snip the cord about an inch long. It is important to let the mother do these things herself if she will because through licking and mothering the kitten she bonds with it and recognizes it as her infant. The mother cat will probably begin nursing the kitten before the next littermate arrives. If she doesn’t place the kitten on one of her nipples. The nursing will stimulate her uterus to contract further so you may seen a bloody or greenish discharge at her vagina. She may eat a few of the afterbirths. There is no problem with this. It usually takes two to six hours for the entire litter to be delivered. If labor persists beyond seven hours it is wise to take the mother and the kittens to a veterinary center. While she is delivering keep her area quiet, calm and dimly lit. Don’t become involved in the birthing unless you are certain that you are needed. Once the last kitten has been delivered you can quietly clean up the mess she has left behind. Place a fresh bowel of water and some cat food beside her – mother cats don’t like to leave their kittens for the first day or two. She should spend about seventy percent of her time nursing the kittens. Remember to keep a comfortable temperature in the room – kittens can not regulate their body temperatures during their first six days. In a normal delivery, strong uterine contractions are accompanied by abdominal contractions and expulsion of the kittens. The first thing you will see is a small, greenish sac visible in the vagina, which will be followed by the kitten. The placenta is still attached to the kitten at this time. It will slowly drag out following each birth. Although delivery of each kitten can take up to two hours the average time is thirty to sixty minutes. A kitten should not spend more than fifteen minutes in the birth canal. While in the birth canal, pressure on the umbilical cord deprives the kitten of oxygen. If you should see a kitten in this predicament grasp it gently through a soft clothe and pull it with a motion that is backwards and downwards. Grasp the kitten by its hips or shoulders and not by its legs. It is normal for kittens to arrive either head first or tail first. After birth, The mother may discharge a bloody fluid for up to 10 days. Cats usually lick the discharge up as fast as it is produced. Only become concerned if the discharge becomes pus-like or has a strong odor.

Things To Keep On Hand When Your Cat Is Expecting:

Keep plenty of clean towels on hand when your cat is expecting. Go to WalMart and purchase a bottle of tame iodine solution (Betadine) for antiseptic, some Q-tips and a pair of blunt scissors. Buy a package of dental floss in case you need to tie off the kitten’s umbilical cords. A baby nose suction bulb works well to clean mucus from the mouth and nose of infant kittens. If it is cold, buy a heavy duty-heating pad.

Serious Problems:

You should contact your veterinarian if events do not unfold as I have generally listed them. Also contact your veterinarian if: 1) The pregnancy lasts more than 66 days 2) The mother’s temperature has been below a hundred for more than one day 3) The mother goes off food or becomes depressed, weak or lethargic 4) A kitten becomes lodged in the birth canal for more than ten minutes and you can not dislodge it cat baby babies pregnant birth labor 5) The mother continues to have contractions for more than four hours and no kitten appears cat baby babies pregnant birth labor 6) More than five hours elapse when you are certain another kitten is still present in the mother cat baby babies pregnant birth labor 7) The vaginal discharge has a strong odor or appears infected 8) You counted less placentas than you have kittens 9) Kittens will not nurse or appear weak 10) A mammary gland (breast) is hot, hard or painful 11) Kittens mew continuously, do not sleep and are agitated 12) Kittens are not receiving enough milk to keep their stomachs plump and distended cat baby babies pregnant birth labor 13) The Mother’s temperature is over 102.5 and two days have passed since birthing Article submitted by: Ron Hines DVM PhD (Original Article)


Pregnant Cat

Pregnant Cat

Less than one in ten of the cat pregnancies I see were planned events. It is generally after your cat is four or five weeks pregnant and beginning to look chubby that a pregnancy is suspected. There are so many unwanted and uncared for cats in the world that I try to talk my clients out of breeding their cats. But when you are fortunate enough to be able to plan ahead, here are some guidelines that you can follow: First, be sure the momma cat is over one year of age. Many cats are accidentally bred on their first heat when they are not much more than kittens themselves. I advise my clients to breed their cat on its second or third heat period. Cats generally have their first heat when they are five to six months old or when their weight reaches five pounds. Take the potential mother in for a veterinary examination prior to having her bred. Besides a thorough examination you should be certain the cat is free of intestinal parasites. If it has been over six months since it received a vaccination for feline rhinotracheitis have a booster administered. If it has been over two years since it received a feline panleukopenia and feline leukemia vaccination have these shots repeated. If the cat is overweight it will be susceptible to more complications than a lean mother. So place the cat on a diet, if it needs one, six month prior to having it bred. Someone who has experience breeding cats should oversee the actual mating this will usually but the owner of the male cat. You can locate these people in your area through grooming shops and boarding kennels. Some veterinary hospitals also specialize in breeding cats but I do not recommend that cats be bred at hospitals because sick animals are often present there.

Recognizing When Your Cat is In Heat:

Most cats have a very distinctive behavior when they are ready to be bred. They typically roll around playfully on the floor and rub their posterior against you and the furniture. They often become vocal and try to escape outside. They stand arched with their tail strait up and their back and rear legs stiffen whenever they are touched. Heat periods will usually last 4 to 7 days. They become longer and more frequent if the cat is not bred. A female cat will mate several times during her heat cycle so kittens in the litter may have different fathers.

Length Of Pregnancy:

Gestation or the length of pregnancy of a cat averages 64 days. It is generally between 62 and 67 days or about nine or ten weeks. When litters are large, length is often less. When litters are small, the length of the pregnancy may increase.

Parasite Control:

Cats that are bred should be negative for intestinal parasites. Bring a sample of their stool by your local veterinarian for a parasite check prior to breeding… If not, it should be wormed at least twice with pyrantel pamoate before it is bred. Mother cats that have intestinal worms can pass these worms on to their kittens through the womb and through their milk. Some of the cats that do this are negative on fecal examinations because the parasites are encysted in their muscles. This is particularly true of cats that live in kennels with many other cats. When kenneled cats are involved the kittens should be wormed at six, nine and eleven weeks of age with pyrantel pamoate. Flea control is especially important once the kittens are born. Since Frontline, Advantage and Advantix have warning about their use in pregnant animals, I would skip application of these products during pregnancy and resume again when the kittens are born. Do not apply these products to the newborn kittens – just pick any fleas off of them with tweezers and place the fleas into a jar of alcohol. During pregnancy rely on methoprene premises sprays to control fleas.


Late pregnancy and nursing vastly increase the nutritional needs of cats. Nursing mothers require even more nutrients than growing cats. The first six weeks of pregnancy the mother should not eat more than its usual pre-pregnancy amount. But starting at the sixth week the cat’s weight and appetite should begin to increase. Start to put down twenty-five percent more food. I like to switch the mother over to a diet designed for kittens and growing cats at this time but she should do well on any high-quality cat chow that is marketed for all life stages. Because the kittens are pressing against her internal organs the mother may not be able to eat as much at one sitting as before her pregnancy. Feed her several small meals instead of one or two large ones or better still, keep her food out at all times. Be sure plenty of clean water is available at all times. There is no need to give a vitamin or mineral supplement. If the cat begins to loose weight despite being offered the added food, supplement her diet with canned cat food. As pregnancy progresses the expectant mother will eat more and more. Give her all that she desires unless she has a tendency to get fat as some cats do. There is no need for a vitamin supplement if name brand foods are fed. The time after the kittens are born begins the most nutritionally challenging time in a cat’s life: Her food consumption will steadily increase over 20 to 30 days following birth as the kittens grow and nurse more and more. By the time the first month is over, the mother should be eating two or four times the amount of food she ate before she became pregnant Give her all she wants to eat. If she begins to become too thin you can encourage her to eat by moistening the food or supplement it with more flavorful canned cat food.

The Pregnancy Examination:

For the first two or three weeks of pregnancy you probably will not notice any changes in your cat other than the lack of repeated heat cycles. Around the fifth week of pregnancy the mother’s abdomen will begin to swell. Queens with small litters take longer to ‘show’ than mothers with a larger litter. When the expectant mother is about thirty days pregnant schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if the cat was not examined prior to becoming pregnant. This will be a ‘wellness’ examination at which time the veterinarian will either palpate and confirm that kittens are present manually or by use of an ultrasound apparatus. Ultrasound can detect kittens as early as the 14-15 day of pregnancy. Ultrasound will detect fetal heartbeats after day 24.By thirty days the cat’s nipples should begin to swell. Some veterinarians suggest an X-ray of the mother three weeks prior to delivery to count the number of kittens so you will know when labor is over and all the kittens are out. I do not feel that exposing the dog to radiation for this procedure is warranted.


Regular exercise and walks will help your pregnant cat keep her muscle tone and general health. Obesity is potential danger in pregnant cats when delivery time comes so control any tendency to fatness with exercise and careful attention to her revised caloric needs. It is much safer to restrict diet before the cat becomes pregnant than after. During the final three weeks of pregnancy the mother should be separated from other cats in the household as well as cats from outside the family. pregnant cat pregnancy cat

Preparing For The Kittens:

Prepare a room for the birth to occur. This room should have an impervious floor that makes cleaning easy. It should not be drafty and should be in a quite area of the home. Prepare a bed for the cat, a laundry basket lined with towels or unused clothes works well. Get her used to using it. If the mother won’t stay in it, you can encourage her to by petting her and giving her small food snacks. You can lead her to the designated nursing area when labor begins but don’t expect her to stay there. She will almost certainly have her kittens outside of the pre-assigned area, let her. When she has completed the delivery, move them all into the designated bed. Cats don’t like to be bothered when they are having their kittens. There is no need for you to spend time comforting her. After the birth of the first few kitten, the mother usually is preoccupied with her babies and not as upset at your presence. Give her the space she needs, but keep checking in on her regularly. It is quite possible that you will miss the birth process entirely. You will probably wake up one morning or return from work only to find you have a brand new litter of offspring contentedly nursing on their mom. If your nursery room is not warm enough, you can warmer it by wrapping a heating pad in a towel, setting it on “low,” and placing it under one half of the nursery bed. This allows the mother and kittens to move away from the heat source if they choose to. Read my articles on birthing and caring for newborn kittens: Bottle Feeding Orphaned Kittens and The Stages of Feline Labor When labor is eminent the mother’s appetite will disappear. By their third or fourth week the kittens should be starting to eat on their own. Encourage them to eat solids by themselves in order to remove the stress of milk production from the mother. By six to eight weeks the babies should be fully weaned so the mother’s food can revert back to the amount she ate prior to pregnancy. When you wean the offspring you help the mother’s milk supply to dry up. Do this by withholding food and only offering her half the water she normally consumes. The following day, give her only a quarter of her pre-pregnancy food supply and one half the water. From the second day on give her all the water she wants. Slowly increase her food over five days until it is back to her pre-pregnancy level. If she has lost weight during the pregnancy adjust her food intake upward to make up the lost weight. pregnant Article submitted by: Ron Hines DVM PhD (Original Article)