If you haven’t had your cat spayed, there’s a definite possibility that she can become pregnant, even as a house cat. Unlike dogs, many owners allow their cats to roam around the neighborhood at their own leisure if their cats are able to navigate the streets and return home regularly. Cats are also much smaller and often have an easier time “escaping” home by climbing out of windows or sliding through doors. Obviously, we can’t spend all our time regulating our cats’ activities, but we also can’t ignore them if and when they become pregnant! Here’s what to do if your cat is expecting!
Symptoms Your Cat is Pregnant
Cat pregnancy is usually around 3 months long, but it varies with every cat. It can be as short as 60 days and as long as 72. Your cat is unlikely to show any major symptoms of pregnancy in the first few weeks. When the physical signs do start to show, here’s what you can expect:
- Swollen nipples: After two weeks, you may notice your cat’s nipples “pinking up” or getting larger and red
- Nausea: Pregnancy can affect your cat’s digestive system, causing nausea, vomiting, or change in appetite.
- Swollen stomach: Like humans, cat’s stomachs also get bigger when they are pregnant.
- Weight gain: Expecting cats may gain weight to store nutrients and fluid to sustain themselves and their babies.
- Behavioral changes: A change in hormones can cause your cat to act differently. Every cat is different, but a few examples include acting more maternal, increased affection, or longer naps.
- Heat cycles stop: Most cats go through heat cycles or estrus every 10 – 14 days, but this will stop if your cat is pregnant.
Some of these symptoms could be caused by other conditions. Because every cat is different, it can be difficult to tell for certain whether your cat is pregnant unless you see a veterinarian. They can conduct a medical examination of your cat and administer an ultrasound to verify whether your cat is really pregnant.
Though there will be some physical and behavioral changes, most cats are very independent throughout their pregnancy. If you are concerned about her health, you can switch to premium food to provide extra nutrients for your cat and her kittens. Pregnant cats may also have the urge to nest. Provide her with towels, blankets, or pillows in a box, so she can have her privacy and comfort. For the duration of the pregnancy, avoid touching your cat’s stomach or abdominal area because her kittens are developing in there.
Cats can deliver their litters on their own. A sign that your cat is about to go into labor is if she starts breathing heavily and her nipples create a milky discharge. Her body temperature will also drop 12-24 hours before labor and she may seek privacy. Most litter sizes are between 2 – 5 kittens. Each cat is different, but most take 10 – 60 minutes to rest between delivering each kit. If her birth takes more than 3 hours, you may want to take your cat to a veterinarian.
After birth, your cat will remove the amniotic membrane, then lick her kittens to stimulate their breathing as they suckle for milk. The placenta and umbilical cord should also be chewed off at this point. If not, you may want to talk to your vet about how to do this for your cat or simply bring your cat to the vet.
Being pregnant, giving birth, and raising kittens can be exhausting and strenuous on cats. It can also be expensive for you! As much as we all love little kittens, it can be difficult to raise or find families for them all. If you want more cats, there’s no shortage of homeless cats that can be adopted at the shelter. To avoid contributing to the overpopulation of cats, it’s highly recommended that cat owners have their pets spayed or neutered early on. The best time to do so is before your cat reaches sexual maturity, between four and six months. If your cat is already pregnant, wait until she has given birth and healed from the process.
Not only does spaying and neutering your cat help control the cat population, it provides a lot of health benefits to your cat. You can reduce their risk of developing uterine, ovarian, prostate or testicular cancer, tumors, and hernias. Pets who are spayed and neutered often exhibit less aggression and temperament problems because their hormones are stabilized. Spaying and neutering also effectively eliminates the heat cycle for female cats, so they don’t spray territories, exhibit mood swings, or attract unwanted
To find out if your cat is pregnant, stop by Brookhurst Animal Medical Center! Our Anaheim veterinarian can give your cat a checkup and medical advice for a healthy pregnancy. We also provide spaying and neutering services for animals who need them. We’re always happy to help!