While the ASPCA and the American Humane Society recommend that all cats be spayed or neutered by age 2 to prevent overpopulation and to reduce the risk for health problems later in life, domestic cats that do become pregnant should receive the best possible care. So, how do you know if your cat is pregnant, and what steps can you take to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery? Let’s review the basics…
How Do I Know If My Cat Is Pregnant?
If you have an unsprayed cat, there are physiological and behavioral changes that can signal that your pet is pregnant.
· Your cat may experience bouts of “morning sickness.”
· Your cat may increase her food intake.
· Your cat’s weight will increase and her belly will grow.
· Your cat’s behavior may also change—some cats become shy and withdrawn when pregnant, while others may become more cuddly and affectionate.
If you suspect your cat is pregnant, a vet appointment can easily confirm or refute the diagnosis.
Feeding My Pregnant Cat
Like humans, female cats need more nutrients when pregnant, so plan on increasing the amount of kibble your cat gets each day. As your cat grows nearer to term, you may want to feed your cat in smaller portions but at a greater daily frequency. Late-stage pregnancy can place pressure on a cat’s stomach, so your pet may be more inclined to snack often throughout the day rather than to gorge at 2 or 3 meals.
Estimating the Due Date
Estimating when your cat will give birth can be a little tricky unless you know when your pet had an encounter with a male. The typical gestation period for cats is 63 days (9 weeks), so even if you’re not sure exactly when your cat became pregnant, you can make an informed guess about the due date. Female cats typically begin to “show” at about 5 weeks, just over halfway into the pregnancy, which may help you estimate the due date more accurately.
How Big a Litter Will My Cat Have?
A typical litter comprises between 1 and 6 kittens (though the world record is 19). At about 5 weeks, your vet can palpate your cat’s abdomen and may be able to give you an approximate guess on the litter size. Periodic ultrasounds can also help determine how the pregnancy is progressing, but in larger litters, it can be difficult to count the individual heartbeats. The most certain way to determine litter size is to wait until week 7 when the kittens’ skeletons are mature enough to appear on X-ray.
Preparing for the Birth
As your cat grows closer to term, she’ll probably seek out a “nest”—somewhere quiet, cozy, and secluded where she will give birth. During this time, you can take several steps to ensure your cat’s comfort:
· Make sure your cat has a place to “nest.” You can make a nest from a cardboard box and a blanket or sweatshirt.
· Pay attention to factors like temperature—your cat will likely seek out a warm, comfy place to give birth.
· Watch for behavioral changes—if your pet seems in pain, or has persistent trouble getting comfortable, contact your vet.
· Watch for physical changes—any vaginal discharge from your pet could signal a problem and is a sign to contact your vet.
We hope you find these tips helpful. At Figo, your pet’s health is important to us. That’s why we offer a broad array of pet health insurance options—one to suit every pet and every budget. Learn more about how Figo Pet Insurance can help you protect your pet.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.