Help, my cat is having kittens! Read our pregnancy advice
Morning sickness, increased appetite, nesting...a growing abdomen...surely not? Indeed, your cat could be having kittens! Cat & Rabbit Clinic's head nurse has some helpful advice for unprepared owners of cat-mums-to-be.
What to do if you suspect your cat is pregnant
First, don’t panic. Look for other cat pregnancy signs: red and enlarged nipples, 1-2kg of extra weight, and changes in behaviour such as wanting more fuss. Weight gain can also be associated with other conditions so a health check would be sensible.
If you have your suspicions, or your cat doesn't seem herself, it’s advisable to book a check-up with one of our vets. They will do an all-over health check, and may be able to confirm a pregnancy just 15 days into her term using ultrasound. By day 40, our vets should be able to tell you the number of kittens your cat is carrying. Cat pregnancies can vary from 61 - 72 days in total.
How to make your cat’s pregnancy comfortable
Be sure to ask us what to expect when your cat is expecting. From a cat pregnancy timeline, to safe flea & worm treatments and the birthing process, our experienced vets can help you get prepared. You will also need:
More food: Pregnant cats eat around 25% more food especially in the last 3-4 weeks. Regular meals will help keep her and her unborn kittens healthy.
More water: She should also have access to more fresh water whilst pregnant, birthing, and lactating. Keep this out of reach of the kittens during and post-birth to avoid drowning.
A kittening box: Create a safe space in a quiet corner, away from family members and other pets. Line a large box or cat bed with clean blankets and sheets (have extra ready too). Introduce her to it at least 2 weeks before the impending due date.
Loving homes: ‘Lucy’s Law’ means kittens can no longer be purchased from anyone other than a breeder, or animal shelter. It’s a good idea to start looking for suitable homes early in the process.
How could this have happened?
Many cat pregnancies are unplanned; think unneutered cats in the wrong place at the 'right’ time. Until your female cat has been neutered, she is at risk of becoming pregnant from just 4 months old. Typically, between February and October, cats have multiple short ‘heat’ cycles and are ready to mate.
You wouldn’t think this, but cats can get pregnant whilst pregnant! Some cats continue to have heat cycles during their pregnancy, so they are at risk of being ‘successfully mated’ multiple times.
Neutering is the only sure-fire way to avoid your cat having kittens, and it can be done from around 6 months of age. Stopping your cat going outdoors and mixing with unneutered male cats is recommended too.
Is it dangerous for a kitten to get pregnant?
Cats should ideally be fully grown and healthy before they get pregnant – around 18-24 months of age. Any younger and there is a risk to your pet’s health as she has not fully developed herself. Carrying kittens will use up valuable nutrients needed for her own growth and development.
At Cat & Rabbit Care Clinic in Northampton, we’re highly experienced when it comes to cat pregnancy and kittens. Our team is happy to help if you have any questions.