If you want kittens, you have a good chance of success if the cat has mated during its heat. Cats are very fertile and they usually give birth to three to six, even seven kittens two to three times a year. The fertile phase of a cat begins at the age of six months to a year. The gestation period cats lasts eight to nine weeks. The special thing: Females mate with several males during the three weeks of heat, so that a litter can have several fathers.
Signs of pregnancy
Pregnancy can be seen after about three weeks after mating. The teats on the abdomen of a pregnant cat emerge and change color to pinkish to reddish. The cat eats more, but may vomit occasionally. The abdominal girth increases and the mood of a pregnant cat ranges from distant to very cuddly. You can find out if the cat is pregnant or if there is something else behind the change in behavior by an ultrasound examination at the veterinarian. But also keep in mind that very young female cats often do not accept their kittens. Therefore, a cat should be at least one year old before it should have its first offspring.
This is how the gestation period in cats
After four weeks, the embryos are between three to four centimeters in size. From the fifth week, the cat’s abdomen increases in size. In the sixth week, muscles, nerves and sensory organs of the embryos develop. A week later, fur follows and ultrasound can be used to determine how many kittens are born. In total, cats are pregnant for nine weeks or 61 to 72 days. If the babies are not born after day 72, you should contact the veterinarian. While still in the womb, the babies reach a size of about 13 cm and the cat gains about two kilograms during the whole period of pregnancy.
Birth: Watch for these signs
Shortly before birth, the pregnant cat eats less. In addition, the cat may restlessly walk back and forth and meow often. She grooms herself conspicuously often, especially on her genitals, and she goes to her litter box without leaving any business behind. If birth is imminent, you may notice contractions on the abdomen or breast milk leaking from the teats. Some cats lie on their side and breathe faster.
What needs the pregnant cat?
Nutrition of the cat is an important point, because after all the kittens should develop well in the womb. The most important minerals and vitamins in pregnancy cat include calcium, copper, iron, vitamin A and taurine. For this in trade there are special food offers for pregnant and nursing cats. Because of its high content of protein and energy, kitten food is also suitable for feeding the pregnant cat. In the trade you can also find complete feeds for pregnant cats, nursing cats and cats up to the first year of life, which ensure an optimal supply of nutrients during this important period.
Cuddling is the order of the day for pregnant cats. Save the belly during the petting and also respect when the cat retreats. Provide a feel-good atmosphere and avoid stress or anxiety. Can the pregnant cat be vaccinated? Some vaccinations are not suitable for pregnant cats. If vaccinations have already been given before the cat is in heat, the mother will pass the antibodies on to the children. However, the pregnant cat should be dewormed. Otherwise possible parasites will be passed on to the kittens at birth. Ask a veterinarian which deworming agent is most suitable in pregnancy.
Does the pregnant cat need a litter box?
Many cats choose for themselves a place that seems safe for them to give birth. You can accommodate this innate instinct with a DIY litter box. For this purpose, a suitably large cardboard box is suitable, which you pad with pillows and blankets. The box must have an edge over which the kittens can not climb. Place the box in a warm place. Because if the cat should ever leave the litter box, the kittens should still not freeze. You may need heat mats or a heat radiator for the litter box.
How do I behave during the birth?
Observe the birth without intervening. Most queens manage the birth alone. It usually takes two hours between the first contractions and the birth of the first kitten. The next kittens are born at intervals of one hour. In between, the cat rests. Make a note of the order in which the kittens are born in case there are complications later. With the help of a scale, note the birth weight of the kittens. With a towel you can rub the kittens dry against the grain. Normally the mother cat does this herself to stimulate the independent breathing of the kitten.
Correctly interpret problems at birth
You must contact the veterinarian in the following cases:
- When the amniotic fluid smells very bad.
- If the cat presses at least two hours without giving birth to a kitten.
- When the kitten is already visible, but still not fully born.
- If the time between births is longer than 1.5 hours.
- If the cat is still in labor, even though the kittens are already born.
- If the cat is trembling, bleeding profusely or apathetic after birth.
- If the kittens appear lifeless, do not drink, or there is an unusual discharge or bleeding on the teats.
Does the pregnant cat need a vet?
Problems can occur during the cat’s gestation period. These include:
- Hemorrhage or bloody discharge
- Blood in the urine or frequent visits to the litter box without doing any business
- Pain that the cat announces by crying
- Loss of appetite
If you observe such symptoms, you should consult with your veterinarian to avoid endangering your cat’s life.
What happens after the birth?
It is extremely important that the kittens start sucking in the first hours after birth. Only in this way can the kittens absorb important antibodies and nutrients for their immune system. Also, the cat may take its offspring to another place to protect them from enemies. Do not prevent the cat from doing this if it chooses a closet or the laundry basket for this purpose.