Cats can become pregnant on their first heat cycle and this can happen as young as 4 months old. Having a kitten who is pregnant will be hard on her. Typically, you don’t want to allow your female cat to become pregnant until her second heat cycle which is usually around 10 to 16 months of age. This reduces the chance of stillborn kittens, issues during delivery, malnutrition, and stress. So what should you do if you think you have a pregnant cat?
Take Her in for a Checkup
The first thing you should do is take her to a veterinarian to be examined. They will likely want to test her for feline aids and leukemia as well as worms and parasites. It’s very important for your cat and the kittens that if the father is unknown, she is seen by a vet as soon as possible to rule out diseases.
If you don’t have the money to take her in now, there are 3 telling signs you can look for to see if she is pregnant:
- Eating more food/hunger increases suddenly
- Her nipples become enlarged and very pink
- She becomes more affectionate than usual
She is Pregnant, What Next?
Once you are certain she is pregnant, you will want to keep her stress levels down. This is very important. Don’t do anything that you know scares her. If she does not like the vacuum, carry her to a safe room and close the door before vacuuming. Make sure she is well fed and hydrated over the next 2 months.
Cats are typically pregnant for around 63 days (on average). About 4 weeks into the pregnancy she will start to show weight gain and stomach swelling. On the 9th week you will have to pay attention to signs of labor.
Signs she is close to labor:
- She may start to follow you EVERYWHERE
- Excessive purring and meowing
- She may vomit or appear sick to her stomach
- Heavy panting and a drop/raise in body temperature
- She will start to lick her genital area more and more
- There may be vaginal discharge and eventually noticeable contractions
Prepare a Nesting Area
She will need a nesting area in which to give birth so if she hasn’t picked this place yet, help her find one. You will want the space to be dark, quiet, and comfortable. You can use a box with blankets in a quiet room or if you are worried about the mess, allow her to give birth inside a new hooded litter box. Make sure to purchase a jumbo-size box and line it with blankets or towels so she is comfortable. Stay by her side throughout the whole process and comfort her.
After your cat has given birth, make sure she is well hydrated. She may not want to eat a lot for a few days, don’t let that worry you as it is very common. Make sure she and the kittens get taken to the vet around 3 weeks after she has given birth. If you suspect something to be wrong with her or her kittens, take them to an animal hospital right away. Prior to three weeks, do not take her or her kittens out of the house unless it is an emergency. The kittens’ immune systems need time to build up and she will need plenty of rest for a few weeks.