Whether it comes a surprise, or you have intentionally bred from your female cat, the idea of kittens is a very exciting one. However, much research will need to be consumed, regardless of whether you are a reluctant or willing first-time breeder.
How Do I Know if My Cat is Pregnant?
Cats come into season, or heat, every 3 weeks. Therefore, your female has ample opportunity to get pregnant.
If you don’t wish you cat to ever get pregnant it can be best to have your female neutered before her first season.
Here are some of the common signs of cat pregnancy:
- Swollen pink nipples, also known as ‘pinking up’
- Vomiting, similar to morning sickness
- Abdominal swelling
- Weight gain
- Increased appetite
However, the only way to truly know if your cat is pregnant is to visit your veterinarian. Using an ultrasound, they can tell if your cat is pregnant after as little as 15 days since conception. Sometimes, they can also ascertain how many kittens she has.
Cat Gestation Period
The average cat gestation period tends to be between 63 to 67 days. However, some kittens have made an escape at 61 days and some have stayed put until 72 days.
Your Cat’s Pregnancy Calendar
Although every cat pregnancy is completely different, as each week goes by, there are generalisations and common features that can be made about certain time periods. This will not apply to all female cats but can act as a helpful guideline.
Days 1 – 7 (Week One)
During this period, post mating, the male cat’s sperm will be seeking your female cat’s eggs. The sperm will fertilise the eggs and they will travel to the uterus, where the rest of the pregnancy will take place. You will not know your cat is pregnant during this period and they will not show any symptoms.
Days 8 – 14 (Week Two)
During the next seven days the fertilised eggs will be safely implanted in the uterus. They will start growing into kittens.
Days 15 – 28 (Week Three and Four)
In the third week of your cat’s pregnancy the kitten embryos will begin to grow their organs. This causes a hormone surge in your female and their nipples may become swollen and pink.
Around weeks three and four, your cat may start to show noticeable pregnancy signs. This is often when morning sickness starts but, it can occur at any point in the day and also see your female going off of her food.
Your cat can also receive their ultrasound during this period, between 15 and 20 days, to confirm the pregnancy and check the progress of the kittens.
You must not pick your cat up after week four of her pregnancy or you could injure the babies.
Days 29 – 35 (Week Five)
During week five, experienced cat breeders can gently feel the kittens wriggling in the female’s stomach. You might be able to tell how many there are. Remember to be incredibly gentle.
Days 36 – 42 (Week Six)
Prepare to have plenty of cat food in the house as week six is when your cat will have an insatiable appetite. During this time, she will build up her food stores enough to feed the new kittens.
Allow your female to eat as much good quality and complete food as she fancies.
Days 43 – 49 (Week Seven)
Your cat will have gained a significant amount of weight by this point and her stomach will be very rounded and obviously pregnant.
Days 50 – 56 (Week Eight)
You will be able to feel the kittens in your cat’s stomach easily now and the feline’s nipples will be large and prominent. Don’t panic if you notice she is balding on her belly. This is a natural process that can accompany pregnancy in some breeds and it will grow back once she has delivered her kittens. Also, do not worry if you see milk on the tips her nipples, she is preparing for the birth and the imminent feeding of her offspring.
Days 57 –The (Week Nine)
Your cat may not have a strong appetite now. Where the babies have grown larger, her stomach is extremely full and eating is a chore. She may seem a little anxious and seek assurance from you that everything is okay.
If you notice her skulk off and find a cosy quiet corner labour could be imminent. A reddish discharge from her vulva will alert you that the kittens are coming.