Cats need special care when they are pregnant, just like humans do! A female cat is sexually mature at between five and nine months of age. Their gestation period lasts for about 65 days. Pregnant cats are called queens, which, if you're a cat owner you'll agree, suits them perfectly.
While cats may not show any obvious signs of pregnancy within the first few weeks, they will no longer be going into heat or showing signs of being ready to mate. After about three weeks, the queen's nipples will enlarge and become quite pink, and soon after her stomach will start to grow larger as well. By this time there should be no doubt as to her condition. Congratulations! Here are some steps you can take to make sure the cat pregnancy and delivery are as easy and safe as possible for your precious pet.
- If you suspect that your cat may be pregnant, or if you know that she is, take her to see the veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will give the animal a regular checkup to make sure she is healthy. No special medical attention is necessary unless she has an existing medical condition or injures herself or becomes ill during the course of the pregnancy.
- Ask your vet about what kinds of commercial cat food you should be feeding your pet at this time, since nutrition is very important for both the queen and her kittens. Feed your cat several small meals throughout the day, rather than one or two large ones.
- Cats exhibit signs of "morning sickness" as well as humans do, usually after the first month to five weeks of pregnancy. The queen may have nausea, not eat as much, and sleep more than usual during this time. Don't worry about this unless your cat isn't drinking any water, eating any food at all, or becomes lethargic for more than a day or two - in this case, call the veterinarian immediately.
- Never give your cat any medications unless they have been prescribed by your veterinarian.
- About two weeks before her expected due date, set up a special, secluded "nesting" spot for your cat. This can be a large cardboard box (trim down the sides for easy access - your pregnant cat will not be able or wanting to jump very high), or just an area of your home that isn't frequented by the rest of the family, and is warm and free from drafts. Lay down towels and blankets for warmth and comfort. Your cat will need to get used to feeling this area is secure, and a safe place for her to give birth. If you have other cats, try to keep them away from this area as much as possible.
- If you have a long-haired cat, trim the hair around her nipples and vulva about a week before she is due to have her kittens. This will help to prevent infections, and give the kittens easier access to their mother's milk.
- If your cat goes outdoors, keep her inside as it gets close to her due date. Otherwise she could give birth outdoors, and this isn't safe for her or the kittens.
Providing proper cat health is crucial during cat pregnancy. The beauty of nature is that your cat will instinctively know when the time is right for her to find her nesting spot and prepare for delivery. Once the kittens are born, the mother will stay with them for the next 24-48 hours. Then the fun really begins!