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Felinexpress.com home > Cat Pregnancy > Preparing & Caring For Your Pregnant Cat

Pregnant Cat

At the thought of a litter of kittens, most people’s faces will light up with delight.  Nothing is more charming to cat folks then a squirming pile of healthy kittens lined up at the milk bar.

But the reality of pregnancy is this; unless you are a registered, ethical breeder, doing controlled breeding sessions, your cat should not become pregnant. Your cat should be spayed.

During backyard breeding (uncontrolled mating outside) the mating ritual can become a game of Russian roulette.  Without knowing which or how many tomcats mated with your cat, you will have a litter born with unknown parentage and perhaps genetic or health issues.

For the most part, cats are able to accomplish birthing kittens without human intervention. This article will concentrate on what you need to know should something unexpected occur when your cat is giving birth.

Any breeder will tell you that breeding is not easy.  It is not a game played by chance, for there are careful calculations made and genetic and health  factors to take into consideration.  It is not a time for amateurs.

Pregnancy Period

The female will stay pregnant up to 65 days. Her nipples will become large and pink as the milk starts coming in.

There have been cats that have gone longer in terms of waiting to give birth.  If you are concerned about when the kittens are due,  your safest avenue would be to take your cat to the vet and have an ultrasound done.

Once you have determined that your cat is pregnant, pay special attention to the cat’s diet. Talk with your vet about what supplements to give her. Bring your cat inside your home immediately (if she is an outside cat). Keep her safe from the hazards of giving birth outside.

The cat is getting ready to have her kittens when the following signs appear:

  • Appetite change- some cats stop eating 24 hours before birthing, others become ravenous.
  • She will begin rooting around with scraps of cloth, rags or blankets. If you have not provided her with a nesting box, now is the time to start.
  • She begins to groom her rectal area and stomach almost obsessively.
  • She becomes restless, pacing, and noisy OR she falls quiet. Not every cat is the same.
  • A mucous discharge appears. This is the mucous plug.  At this stage, the cat should be confined into one room with nesting boxes available.
  • Your cat may begin to show signs of straining. She might visit the litter box several times and produce nothing. It is wise to remove all clay or clumping litter and substitute shredded paper instead.  It is not unheard of for a kitten to be born in a litter tray!
  • If she allows you near her, and you examine her vaginal area, you will see a large opening waiting for a kitten to pop through.
  • She will become a deep breather and pant heavily as she deals with the first contractions.
  • Kittens should be born head-first, not rear-first. Rear-first births require human intervention and can be tricky.

Assisting in the birthing

Have your vet’s phone number nearby along with the following items in case you have to assist in the birthing.

  • Clean towels. Use soft cloth diapers. You will need at least a dozen. Cut them up into smaller squares.
  • Large towels to use in the nesting box. Birthing is a wet business and you want the kittens to stay as dry as possible.
  • Sterile gloves
  • Ear bulb syringe (find these in the baby section of your local drug store) you will need this to clear out the mucous from the kitten’s nose and mouth.
  • Betadine scrub and dental floss- the floss to tie off the umbilical cord, the betadine to treat the cut and clamped cord
  • Hemostats (be sure they are sterilized).
  • Scissors (also sterilized) needed to cut the cord if the cat is unable to sever it herself.
  • Sterile gauze to wrap around your fingers if you have to handle the cord. It will be slippery otherwise.
  • A pet heating pad is essential to have beforehand. A human heating pad can burn a kitten’s fragile skin.
  • Hot water, and cold water and a clean bowl. This comes in handy if a kitten arrives cold and in trouble. You will make a warm bath and immerse the kitten in it to help heat him up.
  • A hot water bottle or several rice heaters (see www.kitten-rescue.com  for directions on how to make rice heaters)
  • A small cardboard box to keep the kittens in once they are dry and to keep them warm while mom labors. Kittens do not have to eat immediately but they do need warmth.
  • Bottles (with elongated nipples) and KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer)should you need to intervene for a kitten that will not nurse.
  • And again, most important YOUR VET’S PHONE NUMBER. Call your vet once the contractions start just to alert him that delivery is near.

Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer, website content provider and member of The Cat Writers’ Association. Her expertise lies in feral cat socialization, bottle babies and animal abuse issues.

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