Cats have their own poignancy and grace. Their white body texture is pleasant to the eyes. Their naive attitude is appealing and their soft mew is soothing. Cats are the most hassle free animal as a pet. They will love you, not demand much attention from you, observe you from a distance and will give ocassional smiles when you look at her. Cats can give you unconditional and un-measured love. Cats are even worshipped as a divine goddess, variedly in different cultures, and have been associated with spirituality for ages. An active cat will run around, jump and have a playful spirit, thus rejuvinating your mood from a tiring day at office.
But what happens when your cat is pregnant? How do you take care of her when she is expecting? Is she 4 months old, getting a round tummy and being super sweet to you for no reason? She may be pregnant. If your cat was in heat and had access to a whole male cat, the likehood of her being pregnant is very strong. A pregnant queen will show both physical and personality changes which will become evident around three weeks after breeding. The gestation period for cats is from 60-67 days. However it can be as small as 56 days or even as long as 72 days.
Ordinary domestic short hair and long haired cats are very fertile. Litter size averages four or five kittens. For some reason Siamese cats also have larger kittens. Persians and other fancy breeds tend to be less fertile.
This term Gestation means the period when the young are developing in the mother’s uterus( pregnancy). There are no practical blood or urine tests available for early diagnosis or pregnancy in the cat. The earliest possible time of diagnosis may be 3-4 weeks after breeding, when the doctor may be able to detect pregnancy by feeling the abdomen. At 6 weeks of Gestation, X-rays are 95% accurate when used to count the number of offspring. The cat gestation period is generally defined in most textbooks as: the number of days between a ‘successful mating’ and the birth or parturition of the fully developed kitten.
Female cats often require several several matings over several days in order to ovulate and become pregnant and the cat breeder or pet owner, unsure as to which of these witnessed matings is the so-called successful one, often cannot tell where to start the count from. A pregnant queen will not show signs of heat, although this is not a guarantee of pregnancy. After approximately 15-18 days, the nipples become enlarged and red, known as ‘pinking-up’. She may also become sick ocassionally, which may be a form of morning sickness. Your cat will gradually gain between one and two kilograms, depending on the number of kittens. This is a sort of indication that she is pregnant. It can be accurately diagonised by ultrasound after as few as 15 days with hearts beating from 17 days. The abdomen will start to swell, but one shouldn’t touch it to avoid the risk of damaging the babies. Also the cat’s behaviour may become maternal and she may begin to ‘purr’ a lot. Your cat will become more affectionate and want more of your affection. An increase in appetite will also be noticed after-all she is not only feeding herself but also her several foetus’s. As pregnancy advances, your cat will exhibit “nesting behaviour”. She will begin to search for a place to deliver her kittens like closets, cupboards, under the bed and other such secluded places.
A veterinary exam early in pregnancy is a good idea to check on the cat’s health. An ultrasound can detect pregnancy as early as the second week. It is very important to take full care of your cat with proper nutrition and excellent medical treatment. Most cats are capable of looking after themselves during pregnancy, but there are still a number of ways you can help.
*Pregnant cats need extra boost of protein and energy to help them through this period of physical stress. Extra nutrients are required both during gestation and some weeks after birth. The additional calories is what she needs. The cat suffers from mild sensitivities and there is a variety of delicate kitten formula food available. A commercially produced kitten formula is better for the cat’s health and is an added advantage during weaning. Fortunately pregnant cats are sensible eaters. Most cats regulate their daily intake to suit their needs. Consulting a vet if her appetite drops or loses weight is higly recommended.
* To achieve the needed energy to handle pressure of unborn kittens, it’s best to give her lots of smaller meals throughout the day and to ensure its availability on a continuous basis. Also fresh water intake is a must. There should be a steady increase in body weight concurrent with increased food intake. It’s completely normal since she will lose her excess during 3-4 weeks of the nursing period.
* Vaccinations should be up-to date, prior to breeding. Healthy mothers pass on immunity to her children in the first milk they produce, so it’s good to ensure anti-body levels are at their peak. However, one should remember that some vaccinations are not safe during pregnancy.
* It’s important to worm your pet your cat during pregnancy to prevent her passing worms to her kittens via her milk. Flea treatment may also be required during pregnancy, again by your vet to ensure you use a safe product for unborn kittens. Avoid any supplementary or complementary medicines as they are not safe.
* Unless your dog is a qualified pedigreed breeder, your female cat should be sprayed. It will not only cease the uncomfortable heat cycles, but prevent certain medication problems. The doctor should be able to give your female cat hormones to stop the uterus, if immediate spraying is not possible because female cats as young as four months can go into uterus.
* Complications during pregnancy is uncommon usually limited to miscarriages. Infectitious diseases can be the cause if your cat does miscarry. It’s important that we always employ excellent breeding practices regarding hygiene and seperation of pregnant and non-pregnant cats. Affected cats will show signs of twitching, agitation, nervousness. A diet low in nutrients will predispose them to this condition.
* After birth, newborn kittens are entirely dependent on mother’s milk for the first few weeks of life. A new mother requires a lot of energy to feed a litter of curious kittens. Depending on the number of kittens, she may eat four times her normal food intake while nursing. Only after weaning, as mum begins to lose interest in nursing and her kittens shift to eating solid food, should your cat move back to a normal regular diet.
To understand that your cat is going to labour, usually about two days before giving birth, her mammary glands will secrete milk. Your cat’s temperature will decrease to about 99° F and you will notice a drop in her appetite. She will become restless, pace from room to room, can begin meowing, purring, panting, licking her genitals and can also vomit. You can then notice a vaginal discharge and eventually contractions. And the birth procedure begins.