While it is highly recommended that all cats be spayed and neutered, cat pregnancy does happen. Cat pregnancy lasts approximately 65 days in which time you need to be extra vigilant about your cat’s safety. Be extra sure to clean her litter box daily, speak to your veterinarian about the best diet for a pregnant cat, and try to make sure she stays indoors. Veterinary check-ups are also recommended for pregnant cats.
Caring for your Pregnant Cat
Pregnancy for all animals requires a lot of energy. If a cat is carrying a large litter, she may have some problems grooming herself. For this reason, you may need to groom her more often than usual. Brush her regularly to make sure there is no dirt or debris building up in her fur. Also, you will need to clean her backside with a warm, damp cloth. Some cats will not be keen on this extra help, but for her health and safety it is important.
During the last 2 weeks of pregnancy, you need to pay close attention to your cat. Some signs that birth will occur soon include a drop of temperature of about 1°C (her normal temperature is 38.6°C); restless behaviour as she is searching for a suitable place for labour; and milk production from her nipples. When labour begins, cats will purr regularly and breath heavily and labour can take anywhere from one to several hours.
The following are some tips to follow during when your cat is actually giving birth. First of all, if your cat is having contractions (indicated by heavy breathing and regular purring) for more than 2 hours without actually birthing kittens, you should call your vet. This could indicate some problems with birth and may put the litter at risk. Eventually however, if all things are going as planned, the first kitten will be delivered. Usually, kittens will come out in what appears to be a fluid-filled bag. The bag should burst on its own and the mother will start cleaning the kitten.
Typically, the mother cat will bite through the umbilical cord herself. If this isn’t the case, you should cut the cord yourself with a pair of sterilized scissors. The easiest way to sterilize the scissors is in a dishwasher. If you decide you need to cut the cord (only after the next kitten is delivered and the cord from the first is intact), you will need to tie off the cord between the cat and the kitten and gently cut it.
In addition, a placenta should be delivered after each kitten. The mother cat will usually eat the placenta. If the placenta is not delivered, this can put the adult cat at serious risk of infection. You should contact a veterinarian in this case.
After the birth and the mother has finished cleaning, lay the kitten next to its mother’s tits. Normally, the kitten will start to suckle.
Provided there are no complications, the mother cat should recover quite well on her own. If you notice the cat bleeding excessively or placentas have not been delivered, contact your vet immediately as the health of your adult cat may be at risk.