Everyone loves the idea of a purring kitten snuggled up on their chest. They imagine the soft fur beneath their chin and the way the kitten’s tiny body folds up neatly into their hands. While kittens are definitely precious creatures, most cat owners are a little worried about what a pregnancy might mean for their cat. We came up with this ultimate guide to cat pregnancy to give you the information you need.
Whether you’re facing the delivery of a litter of kittens or trying to prevent a pregnancy, this guide to cat pregnancy can certainly help!
In this article:
- When do cats go in heat?
- How to know if a cat is pregnant
- Stages of cat pregnancy
- How long are cat pregnancies
- How to prevent cat pregnancy
When Do Cats Go in Heat?
One of the first steps to navigating cat pregnancy is finding out when they are at their most fertile. When do cats go in heat and how can you tell?
Unlike humans who are fertile once each month, cats tend to experience ovulation seasonally. The fall and the spring are the most common times to start seeing your feline exhibiting the symptoms associated with going into heat.
Keep in mind that each cat might go into heat multiple times throughout the spring and fall seasons. Depending on the time of year and their environment, you might find that your feline has different signs of being in heat each time.
Some of the most common symptoms that your cat is feeling frisky include:
- Loud meowing and yelling while walking around the house (beyond what is normal)
- Excessive affection toward owners, furniture, and even the floor
- Increased desire to be outdoors
- Swollen vulva or discharge that causes her to lick her genitals
She might also take on the posture of a cat in heat. She may raise her hind end high into the air while her back feet knead the floor. Alternatively, she may also crawl along the floor in a similar posture.
Be aware that female felines can get pregnant as early as 4-6 months old. Spaying/neutering your cats can prevent unwanted pregnancies. Please schedule an appointment with your vet at your earliest convenience.
How to Know If a Cat is Pregnant
Because cats can become pregnant from a very young age, you should always arm yourself with some tips to tell that your cat might be pregnant. This can help you to get them the appropriate veterinary treatment to give both the mom and her babies the best care.
Here are a few of the most common signs your cat is pregnant:
Darker Nipples: The color of your cat’s nipples will appear more prominently pink just a few weeks into a pregnancy. There won’t typically be any milk, but you will be able to identify the nipples more clearly at a quick glance.
Morning Sickness: Does your cat throw up more often than usual? Much like a woman, female cats also experience morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy. Some vomiting is perfectly normal but you should contact a veterinarian if your feline could be at risk of dehydration or malnutrition.
Increased Appetite: While a human mother might be eating for two, a cat mother is eating for several! It should come as no surprise that your cat is hungrier than usual if you suspect she might be pregnant.
Swollen abdomen: Astute cat owners will have an easier time noticing the swollen abdomen if their cat is at the proper weight. It will be rather difficult to tell if she needs to lose a few pounds already. This should be very apparent by the time she is one month along.
Nesting: If you have missed some of the early signs of pregnancy, you might find that your cat is already nesting. She may bring blankets and other objects into one quiet area of the house where she plans to give birth.
Stages of Cat Pregnancy
What can you expect when going through the stages of cat pregnancy?
Knowing what is coming next can be a great way to help you feel more prepared and equipped to assist your feline friend with the birth. There are generally considered to be five stages of cat pregnancy that you will experience.
1. Fertilization: Did you know that cats can reproduce and go into heat as early as six months? You have to keep an eye on your female cats from a very early age to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. During this stage, your feline will display the prominent signs of going into heat.
2. Early Pregnancy: This is the part of the pregnancy where a cat will experience morning sickness and begin developing an increased appetite as nausea wanes. The bodies of the kittens become more pronounced and can be felt through the stomach.
3. Mid-Pregnancy: At this point, your cat is growing ever larger as she accommodates an entire litter of kittens in her womb. The veterinarian should be able to do perform an x-ray to see the kittens and tell you how many there are.
4. Pre-labor: Roughly one to two weeks before the kittens are born, your cat will start to develop milk and create a nest for herself. This is where she plans to go into labor. She may also stop eating a couple days before labor.
5. Labor and Delivery: Your cat will start to let you know she is in labor by pacing anxiously and yowling in discomfort. She might lick her genitals as the process is beginning. One hour in, you should see one kitten born with others coming every fifteen minutes after. She will clean the kittens afterward. They will go eight to twelve weeks with the mom before being weaned.
How Long are Cat Pregnancies?
After seeing how few stages of cat pregnancy there are, you might wonder how long the whole pregnancy lasts. The entire thing is a relatively short process. The gestation period for a cat is typically between sixty and seventy days.
Keep in mind that most people won’t notice the pregnancy until the thirty-day mark. This means that you only have a few weeks left until you need to prepare for a litter of kittens!
How to Prevent Cat Pregnancy
The best way to prevent cat pregnancy is to have your female cat spayed. This will keep your cat from becoming pregnant at any point during her life.
Your cat may even benefit from having this procedure done because it can help to limit their hormones and calm them down. A lifetime of going into heat without ever mating can be uncomfortable and tiresome for a female cat.
However, you might choose to allow your cat to live without spaying her (though we recommend getting her spayed). In this situation, you really need to ensure that you only have female cats and they stay indoors altogether. This prevents them from having run-ins with male cats while they are in heat and creating unwanted pregnancies and litter. Sometimes, you may not notice that your cat is in heat until it’s too late.
PLEASE SPAY/NEUTER YOUR PETS to help with overpopulation! 🙂
Vets can also help you to induce ovulation in your cat and stop them from going into heat for a month or two at a time. This gives you a temporary respite from worrying about pregnancy, but it may not be a great long-term solution. Hormonal therapy can also be used to manipulate your cat’s reproductive ability.
Final Thoughts: Ultimate Guide to Cat Pregnancy
Navigating the waters of pregnancy with your cat can be both exciting and scary depending on whether your kittens were planned or not. This should give you all of the information you need to know to help your cat handle motherhood gracefully. Start preparing to help your cat take care of kittens or take the steps to prevent a pregnancy today!