Caring for pregnant cats
We all love a kitten, who doesn’t?!And that’s why we want every kitten bornto have the best possible start in life, and that begins by caring for mum when she is pregnant. The gestation period for a cat is 63-65 days,or nine weeks. Often there will be very little sign of a cat being pregnantuntil very near the birth. However, the main sign owners will seeis a swelling of the belly area,which will start to occur from three weeksinto the pregnancy. At the same stage a queen’s teatswill start to become largerand redder in colour,this is known as pinking up. She may start acting more maternally,by purring and showing more affection than normal,while at the same time becoming less tolerantof other pets and animals around her. If you are caring for a pregnant queenthere are a number of steps you can taketo make the experience as stress-free and as comfortable as possible for her. The queen will need to identify her own birthing area,but you can help with thisby placing blankets down in quiet areas of the houseto act as bedding areas. At this stage it is also a good idea to prepare for after the birthby providing the queen with places to hide or get up high should she wish to spend timeaway from her kittens,such as adding a Hide & Sleep or a climbing tower. Pregnant queens need to eat more than usual,especially in the last three to four weeks of the pregnancy. At this stage it is advisable to feed her kitten food,which is dense in energy and essential nutrients,to help support the kittens’ growth. Start by offering her an additional meal each dayand if she wants more allow her to eat as much as she needs. She will be able to regulate her own intake. She will also need access to plenty of fresh water,so ensure this is put down and changedat least twice a day. As the pregnancy progressesyou should also provide additional food and water bowls around the houseto allow her easier access. This is the same for litter trays,and quiet blanketed areas. If your cat is already pregnant,you should seek advice from your vet about the specific care of your cat,regarding feeding, worming and treating for fleas. You should ensure any treatments are safe for use during pregnancy. The best way to be a good midwife to your catis to observe her vigilantly, quietlyand preferably from a distance. Take care not to cause her any unnecessary stress. If you have any concerns at all about your cat’s healthduring her pregnancy you should contact your vetas soon as possible. Female cats become sexually maturefrom just four months of age. During the breeding season,which usually runs from February to August,unneutered females will have cycles of being in heat,in order to attract a mate. These periods of reproductive activityoccur every few weeks and last a few days. Queens are not selective in their choice of mate and will accept advances made by any tom,including relatives. Which is why so many kittens are born each year. It’s worth knowing that females can become pregnantagain just six weeks after giving birth. Often owners will be unawarethat any mating has taken place,but if you have an unneutered female catwho is more than four months old and is going outside,there is a good chance they may be pregnant. If your cat’s pregnancy has been unwanted,or there are potential health risks to the queen or kittensyou may wish to speak to your vet to discuss your options. Cats Protection would always advise neutering your cat at four months of ageto avoid any unwanted litters. For more information please visit our website.