How do you know if your cat is expecting kittens?
As with all mammals, gestation is a sensitive and fairly common period in a cat's life. It manifests itself in somewhat unusual behavior in animals, especially if it is the first time.
If you suddenly noticed in your little hairball disturbing attitudes that you did not know him before, do not panic: it may be a matter of bad for good, a pregnancy!
To get to the bottom of it, in this article we suggest you discover all of the most revealing signs that will help you detect whether your cat is expecting babies or not and, if so, to preparefor the birth of herkittens.
The signs that show that the cat is pregnant?
The first signs of a female cat's gestation are not noticeable until a certain time after mating, usually as early as the third or fourth week. These are mainly the following:
- Enlargement of the udders, which occurs after the third week.
- Fierce appetite: despite some irregular refusals to eat, the pregnant cat eats much more than usual, which justifies a considerable weight gain of about a third of her normal weight.
- Expansion and enlargement of the belly.
- Morning sickness.
- Change in behavior: the cat becomes more gentle, maternal, solitary and generally isolates itself in quiet places.
However, you will notice that these signs are not always typical of gestation. Some cats may innocently show these signs at some point in their growth, due to their breed or identity behavior. So if you spot these signs in your cat, contact your vet for a more precise diagnosis.
How long does pregnancy last in the cat?
The gestation period in the cat lasts about 9 weeks, more precisely between 63 and 68 days after mating. Note that the litter also has an influence on the duration of gestation: the larger the litter, the longer the pregnancy will be (an adult cat gives birth on average to 4 kittens per litter, and this can go up to 8 kittens) .
How does the gestation of the cat go step by step?
Pregnancy in cats is divided into 3 main stages, a bit like trimesters in women. Each stage lasts 3 weeks, and represents a key period during which major changes take place.
From week 1 to week 3
This period almost always goes unnoticed by the owners, because it manifests itself through internal phenomena in the cat (so there are no significant physical changes).
6 days after mating, the fertilized eggs descend into the uterus of the cat. The implantation takes place on the 12th day, and the placenta forms to the15th day. At the21st day, the kittens are in the embryonic stage and about 2.5 cm. The veterinarian can already perform the first ultrasound, which reveals the C-shape of the embryos. He can also feel them by feeling the belly of the cat and give the first statistics on the number of pups in the litter.
From week 4 to week 6
This is the phase of major physical changes in the pregnant cat. You will be able to see his back which is hollow, his pelvis which becomes wider and rounded on the sides. You may also notice a reduction in physical activity and an increase in naps.
A second ultrasound is possible from the 28th day, and the vet can then give the exact number of expected kittens, which at this stage are growing rapidly and are between 3 and 4 cm. A consistent and appropriate diet for kittens or pregnant females is therefore required to ensure the proper development of the fetuses.
From week 7 to week 9
It's the home stretch! At this stage, more precisely from the 38th day, all the sensory organs are formed and the kittens can therefore already perceive sounds. The nervous system, muscles and vibrissae are still developing. The fetuses begin to move in their mother's womb and are about 5 cm long.
On the physical level, the cat eats less because of the cubs which compress her stomach, but she drinks a lot more. She is very loud, licks her stomach and vulva, and lies on her side. She seems to have difficulty breathing. She combs the house with a fine-tooth comb, looking for a calm and warm place: the hour is near, the family will grow!
The birth, the big day of the arrival of the kittens
This is a very painful moment for the mother-to-be. Farrowing lasts at least 2 hours and can be up to 6 hours. Note that if you have made all the visits to the vet and followed all her prescriptions, you will not have to worry: the cat will bravely cope on her own. Sit at her side in the place she will have chosen and that you will have prepared for the occasion, in order to assist her if necessary.
The first contractions take place about 2 hours before the arrival of the first kitten, but the time intervals between the arrival of 2 consecutive kittens generally vary between 15 and 30 minutes, or even 1 hour in rare cases.
During the birth, the cat takes a suitable position and pushes very hard. Once the kitten is out, she tears the membrane covering it, cleans the little one by licking it, and cuts its umbilical cord. You can help her in case she is busy pushing the next kitten. Some time after parturition, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended for the examination of the mother and the young.