Kittens are a beautiful thing that exist in this world. Some of you might want for your cat to have them and some of you don’t want it because of a variety of circumstances. But, either way, you should know when your cat is pregnant and how to prepare for that situation. In this article you will find out, everything or at least most of the facts you need to know about cat pregnancy and pregnant cat labor signs. You will also find out how to make your cat as comfortable and happy in that period. We all want our furry friend to be healthy and satisfied, and that’s why we have to ensure it. At that time we are her friends, family and support.
How to tell if your cat is pregnant
When a cat is pregnant, you can see all sorts of physical changes and personality changes. These changes will become more evident around three weeks after breeding. Given this fact, you should watch for these signs:
- First sign is cycles cease. If a cat has been suffering heat cycles every 10 days to two weeks, and suddenly stops, it is very likely she is pregnant.
- After 15-18 days of cat pregnancy, the nipples become enlarged and red. This is also known as pinking-up.
- A pregnant cat can also go through a stage of being sick occasionally, just like humans do. But, if you notice that it is more frequent you should contact your veterinarian.
- The abdomen of your cat will start to swell, but you should avoid touching it because you can hurt a cat or unborn kittens.
- Your cat will gradually gain between one and two kilograms, and it all depends on the number of kittens she is carrying. This is a strong indication that she is pregnant.
- One more reason for gaining weight is increased appetite. This comes later in pregnancy.
- Before giving birth, your cat’s behavior will become maternal. In other words, she will purr a lot and she will seek some extra attention from you.
- Before giving birth, your cat will probably refuse food.
- Another sign is nesting. This is not an early sign. Your cat will seek quiet, safe and warm place to give birth in.
- A pregnant cat start to clear her rear in preparation for delivery.
- Your cat may call to you. It is a specific sound. Because of that you wont be able to mistake it for something else.
- The first sign of labor is a temperature drop in cat to around 37.8º C.
- You should then see the abdomen contracting and a vaginal discharge (if the discharge is heavy and black or blood-colored then you should contact your vet).
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Clinical Diagnosis of Pregnancy in Cats
If you see some or all of these signs but you’re still not sure if its pregnancy or some sickness you can visit veterinarian. He/she can examine your cat and tell you for sure.
- From around 17th to 20th day of pregnancy your veterinarian may be able to feel your pregnant cat’s fetuses by palpitating and gently pressing on her abdomen.
- He/she can take an ultrasound of your cat’s abdomen. An ultrasound may detect fetuses as early as the second week of pregnancy, and heartbeats may be detected sometime after the third week.
Cat Pregnancy Stages
Before we jump right to the labor we have to have some knowledge about earlier stages. According to some sources, cat pregnancy has five stages, but some other sources list only three of them. What’s important is that every stage comes with some specific symptoms that can guide you through whole process. Nevertheless, I’ll list both five stage and three stage processes just to be sure.
Cat pregnancy trough five stages
Cats can reach sexual maturity already at the age of six months. For instance, oriental breeds usually reach this maturity the earliest. But, this is not the way it always goes. Some cats reach maturity much later. In other words, some cats reach this stage only at the age of 12 months. When that happens heat cycles develop and your female cat can get fertilized. It is also important to mention that your cat kittens can have more than one father and it all depends on how many males successfully mate with female cat.
2. Early stage of cat pregnancy
This stage lasts for four weeks. In the first week your cat might be experiencing loss of weight, morning sickness and lack of appetite due to nausea. Basically, the symptoms are similar to those of early stage human pregnancy. Second week comes with developing pink nipples that are swollen and sensitive to touch. Also, the fur on the cats belly and around the nipples may become thinner. In the third week your cat will begin to gain weight again because her appetite should regain. Furthermore, in this week you might be able to feel the lumps caused by kitten developing.
3. Middle stage of cat pregnancy
In this stage your cat will start gaining weight increasingly. It is all because of the fact that kittens are getting bigger. If you go to the veterinarian to do an x-ray you will have a clear view of kittens. Also, you will know how many kittens your cat is carrying.
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This stage is also called the nesting stage. It all starts one week before the birth. One of the symptoms you should see is very visible nipples including drops of milk. Furthermore, your cats rectal temperature will drop. It is also important to mention that your cat will probably stop eating about two days before she goes into labor. Moreover, this stage is called nesting stage because in this period your cat will start looking for warm and safe places to create a nest. This is where you can help. Star putting boxes at the places you see she prefer. That could make her decision easier.
5. Labor stage
Now we go to the final stage of cat pregnancy. It is pretty easy to recognise when your cat goes into labor. She will start licking her abdomen and genitals. Also, she might make some noises of discomfort. Furthermore, some cats may pace and act anxious. When you see these symptoms, you just have to wait. The birth will start about an hour after the labor. Kittens should come out every 15 to 30 minutes. After they are all delivered, your cat will start licking them and she will eat the placental. These placental will give her extra nutrition that she needs. All in all, while your cat is giving birth you should wait without panicking. She can do it all alone. If you think there is something wrong just call a veterinarian and he/she will give you all directions.
Cat pregnancy in three stages
Sources that are talking about cat pregnancy in three stages are mostly based on growth of fetus. First stage is preimplantation or egg fertilization. This stage lasts from day 0 to 12 and it’s the phase where embryo is forming. The next stage is embryogenesis which is a critical period. It lasts from day 12 to 24th. This is the phase where kittens liver, digestive tract, respiratory system, limbs, sense organs, skull and bladder begin to be formed. Last stage is fetal growth also called rapid growth time. It lasts from day 24 all the way to the birth. The organs take on their proper shape, nerves develop, and the hormonal glands begin to function and control the processes.
If you want to know everything you can expect during your cats pregnancy check out this Week by Week Pregnancy Calendar from Pets4Homes site.
Making pregnancy comfortable
Once you find out how many kittens your cat is having and when is the birth date you should focus on your cat. Try to make pregnancy process as comfortable as you can. Just like humans, although pregnant, it is important to be active and fit. This also goes for cats. You should also pay attention to her appetite as well. It is important to mention that if your cat stops eating at the middle of her pregnancy you should cal veterinarian to see why is that happening. Furthermore, her expanding abdomen could make it harder for her to eat big meals. Because of that you should feed her with smaller portions of food, but you should also give her calorie-rich food. Your cat will need a plenty of energy.
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Also, you should keep an eye on her comfort level. If you see that she has difficulties with getting comfortable you should offer a variety of choices where she can rest. This could mean that she needs something softer, cooler or warmer. You just have to try all kinds of stuff until you find a perfect solution. Moreover,, your cat will have a vaginal discharge during her pregnancy. That discharge should be clear or white, but if you see something else call a veterinarian. The same goes for any other concerns you have. Her health will make her pregnancy easier and it will ensure a high level of comfort.
Pregnant cat labor signs
Now when we covered all you have to know about cat pregnancy overall, we can move on to the labor part. Firstly, you should know what are the signs of your cat going into labor. First sign is the increase of mammary glands size. With that comes a milk production too. That usually happens two days before cats birth. Furthermore, as we mentioned before, your cat will start nesting and she will be more affectionate. Another behavioral sign is restlessness and pacing. She will also become more vocal. You will also notice a decrease in her temperature. A day or two before giving birth her temperature will drop to 99°F (37.2°C). Moreover, your cat will lose her appetite. She will also lick her genitalia frequently because of the discharge from the vagina.
Preparation for the birth
In last two weeks of your cats pregnancy, you should start preparing all supplies you might need. Firstly, place a box for birth in a warm, quiet room without drafts. You can place an old blanket on the bottom of that box, but make sure it is always clean. It is also important that this room is off limit to children or other pets because your cat will need a peace. In the same room place a bowl with food and wather and litter box. Try to make your cat as inactive and comfortable as possible.
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You will also need: a several pairs of sterile surgical gloves, dental floss, antiseptic, cord stumps, infant nasal cleaner, clean towels, your veterinarian’s phone number, an emergency veterinarian’s phone number, kitten milk replacer and a source of warmth for kittens (for example hot water bottle wrapped in a blanket or microwaveable beanie bag). Also ensure that you have access to transport and cat carrier because there could be some complications and you will have to take her to veterinarian immediately.
Stages of labor in cats
Although cats are perfectly capable of giving a birth, when a labor starts, you should carefully keep an eye on your cat. That is because there could be some complications, but don’t worry. In most cases everything goes smoothly. It is important to mention that you shouldn’t get too involved because that could slow down the delivery. That is why you should limit yourself to regular checks. Now, lets move to cat labor stages. It has three stages:
First stage lasts for 12 hours or more. This stage begins with uterine contractions. It is important to mention that this contractions might not be visible to you. But you could notice it because of her vocals. This is a part where your cat starts being restless and she starts to be very vocal. Also, your cat might have a vaginal discharge. This discharge is known as the mucus plug. Mocus plug was in the cervix during pregnancy. His purpose was sealing the uterus from vagina. We already talked about your cat finding a place for giving birth, but she could change her mind at the last moment and pick different place. As this stage progresses, contractions will become closer and closer together.
This stage usually lasts for about 5 minutes to 1 hour for one kitten. Total time depends on how many kittens your cat is carrying. In this stage contractions are much stronger and closer together. Furthermore, the cervix is fully dilated. In other words, your cat is ready to give birth. The kittens will start moving down the birth canal and your cat will have a need to push. Usually, it takes only three pushes for your cat to deliver the kitten. Just like human babies, kittens are born head first, but if you see that kittens feet appear first you shouldnt worry, because that is totally normal too.
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When kitten is delivered, your cat will start tearing and licking the membrane from kittens face and body. This will stimulate breathing. It is important to mention that if you see that your cat doesn’t have time for that, you should remove the membrane of kittens for her. Also, you should softly rub the kitten with a towel to stimulate breathing. Furthermore, use the infant nasal cleaner to remove debris from the kittens mouth and nose. If the kitten isnt born after an hour, you should call a veterinarian. Moreover, right after giving a birth to a kitten she will begin to nursing it even before other kittens arrive. If she doesn’t do it, you should place a kitten on one of her nipples.
Right after kitten’s birth, placenta will be delivered too. Your cat will chew the umbilical cord in two and she will probably eat the placenta. Now, this is where you take action. If your cat is not able to chew the umbilical cord, you will have to do it. You just tie a piece of dental floss around the cord (no closer than 1 inch from kitten) and cut it with a sterile scissors. Furthermore, you should start carefully paying attention to delivery of placentas and count how many placentas are delivered. There should be the same number of placentas and kittens. This is a mater of life because retained placenta will lead to infection that is life-threatening. On the other hand, there could be less placentas because your cat could eat them or the twin kittens might share one.
When is a time to call a veterinarian?
Difficulty of giving birth is called dystocia and it can be a big problem for your cat and her kittens. Everything that is mentioned in the last paragraph “stages of labor in cats” is a normal birth progress. With this in mind, you will be able to see every deviation. Besides, it is better to call your veterinarian and make sure everything is fine than making thing even worse. Consider calling if the pregnancy lasts more than 66 days. Furthermore, call if the stage 1 doesn’t start after 24-36 hours after the drop in rectal temperature. Another reason is if the first stage labor lasts longer than 12 hours. A problem also appears when the first kitten is not delivered after 1 hour of active labor and if other kittens are taking too long to deliver.
Moreover, call your veterinarian if you see your cat has a fever or if you see that she is in distress, pain and disoriented. On the other hand, a drop of temperature that lasts more than one day is also problematic. Vaginal discharge that has a strong odor and that appears infected can also indicate that there is a problem. Instant reaction is needed if you see a kitten lodged in the birth canal for more than ten minutes. Also, call your veterinarian if you see a problem with kittens such as weakness and refusal of nursing.
I hope you found out everything you need to know about cat pregnancy and pregnant cat labor signs. But, if you still have some questions and doubts you should definitely contact your veterinarian. After all, he/she is the one that knows everything about your cat and your cats pregnancy progress. If you find this article helpfully please let us know by commenting. Also, if you already been through this process, let us know how was it. Do you have any other advice? Comment and make sure that owners of pregnant cats make this time of life as easier as they can for their cat.