You may be feeling slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of your cat’s pregnancy, but you can rest assured that you, your cat and your cat’s new kittens are going to be just fine. According to the very competent sources at WebMD, here’s a basic rundown of things to keep in mind when your cat is expecting.
Should The Vet Examine My Cat?
In short, yes. Your cat’s gestation period (the time between mating and birth) is roughly 65-69 days. For the vast majority of this time there are few and very slight indications that your cat is even pregnant, and it is encouraged to seek the guidance of a medical professional. With ultrasound and other sophisticated techniques, pregnancy can be detected as early as days 15-20, but this requires a precise knowledge of feline pregnancy. Your veterinarian is going to be an enormous help throughout this process, and you’re going to rely heavily on his/her expertise. Attempting to see the process through by yourself can result in any number of complications, even including miscarriage.
What Should I Do Before Labor Begins?
As your veterinarian is going to be your primary consultant on all matters relating to your cat’s pregnancy, you’ll want to be in regular communication. You should schedule the first prenatal checkup at about three weeks after mating, granted you’re aware of the exact date. Otherwise, this first checkpoint may be difficult to see coming, as a fetal kitten is only about the size of a peanut at this point, and your cat will be showing minimal signs of anything unusual.
Cat Morning Sickness
Your cat may experience morning sickness around the 3-4 week mark. This will occur as a result of internal movement of the uterus as well as hormonal fluctuations. It is likely that this will last for only a few days, with some vomiting, lethargy and lack of appetite. If you happen to notice it at all, which you may very well not, keep a close eye on your cat’s eating and drinking patterns. If your cat has been resisting food and water for more than a couple days, seek the consult of your veterinarian.
By approximately the 50 day marker, you should be able to see a visible expansion of your cat’s belly and other readily apparent physical signs of pregnancy, including a swelling and reddening of the nipples as well as possible lactation. Finally, one week before the expected date of arrival, you should schedule a final prenatal consultation. Your doctor will likely discuss delivery protocol, take a basic inventory to look for any possible issues and give you instructions for the care of your new kittens.
What Should I Expect After Delivery?
Though your veterinarian will provide you with specific instructions for the care of your new baby kittens, you may be eager to have some idea of what to expect. Here, courtesy of the ASPCA, are a few of the major concerns when caring for newborn kittens.
- Feeding a kitten is largely the responsibility of its mother, but, if the two have been separated for any reason, there are alternative recourses.
- After they’ve exhausted the nutritional value of their mother’s milk, you can begin to introduce small quantities of a milk replacer. Once they’ve become used to this, you can add some cat food to the milk replacer to make gruel.
- If the mother is not present, it is important to keep the kitten incubated. This can be done with the aid of a heating pad or warm water bottle wrapped in a towel. You must make sure that the kitten can distance itself from the heat source easily. Your vet will be able to discuss appropriate temperatures with you.
- Holding kittens is a vital part of the socialization process, but should only begin from the second week on. Kittens can be especially prone to injury, so anyone handling the kitten should be especially mindful of this. Young children should be supervised closely.
There’s obviously a great deal more depth and detail on every possible subject and inquiry that might occur regarding feline pregnancy and kitten care. It’s important to keep in close contact with your veterinarian during this time, as they will have the most accurate and complete information. Other than that, congratulations on the birth of what are sure to be some absolutely adorable kittens! Enjoy the new additions to your family.