If you have a female cat who loves being outdoors then do not be surprised if they get pregnant. The initial signs of pregnancy are missed by most of us unless she has a bad case of morning sickness with nausea and vomiting. Pregnancy in cats is usually noticed during the later stage when they get a bump in their abdomen.
Signs of pregnancy in your cat
You can tell if your cat is pregnant when their nipples turn darker and engorged. This happens during the third week of their pregnancy. Your cat will also put on more weight.
How long is the gestation period for cats?
A normal cat pregnancy lasts 65 to 69 days and you can expect an average of four to six kittens per litter. A normal and healthy cat can have one to two litters per year. The actual number of kittens and litters can vary according to your cat’s breed and medical history. So, your vet will be able to tell you the exact number through ultrasounds and X rays.
Weight gain and changes in appetite
Your cat will definitely gain weight during pregnancy but it can only be noticed during the last few weeks. It is only during the final weeks of her pregnancy that your pet’s appetite and hunger increases as they need to eat for several kittens! So, now is the time you need to be careful and ensure that they do not gain more weight unnecessarily.
Cats have morning sickness and cravings just like humans but if you find your pet eating dirt or any other thing apart from their food you should get them checked by the vet. They may have a condition called pica which is a mineral deficiency for which your pet may have to take nutritional supplements.
Feed them highly nutritious food
You can feed your pet the same meal she eats everyday but you need to start adding more protein to their meals. Towards the end of her pregnancy you might want to feed them kitten food that is beneficial for lactating mothers and growing cats. You can continue with the same diet during her lactation period till the kittens have been weaned.
As there is shortage of space in their body, there will be less space for storage of food. So, your pet will need smaller meals at frequent intervals. Make sure you give them enough food whenever they are hungry and that they drink sufficient water.
During the last leg of her pregnancy, bladder leaks are quite common. They may not always make their way to the litter box on time and will have toilet accidents at home. Do not scold them at this stage. She may need some help cleaning her bottom too. You can wipe it with a soft moist cloth.
How to help a cat deliver
Just before going into labour your cat will wander restlessly around the house looking for a place to deliver her kittens. Make sure you keep all your cupboards closed and prepare a paper lined box in a quiet area of your house. She may choose to deliver her brood there or not. Allow her to deliver her kittens wherever she feels comfortable. Do not move her from her chosen place as this may lead to further stress and tension in your cat that will disturb the labour process leading to complications that may turn life threatening to her and her litter. Keep the house quiet for your cat and soothe her during the last stages of labour. Once the kittens arrive you can move them to a clean area allotted for them.
You can always contact your vet for their professional advice.