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Have you noticed something strange in your cat?

Do they sleep more often and are clingier than usual? Or do they eat more than they used to and start gaining weight?

This is going to be a surprise for you, but your cat may be pregnant! 

There are times where you won't know that your cat is pregnant. You'll just come home one day with a box full of kittens.

Wipe off that frown on your face as we'll teach you some things on what to do with pregnant cats.

This article will explore the different sides of cat pregnancy and what to expect from it. 

Cat Pregnancy 101: A Cat Before Pregnancy

A Cat Before Pregnancy

Unlike dogs who only go in heat twice a year, cats often go in heat twice a month.

Cats are polyestrous, which means that they have multiple heats during the breeding season. Cats who live in a tropical region closer to the equator are most likely to go through a heat cycle all year round.

A Cat Before Puberty

It is not easy growing up, especially when you're near puberty and hormones are just all over the place. Like humans, cats also go through the stage of puberty. 

Due to hormonal changes in this stage, cats tend to be aggressive but clingier at the same time. 

This hormonal shift manifests through scratching furniture or meowing at random things.  

A Cat Reaching Puberty 

Unspayed female cats usually have their first heat cycle before the first year of life, between 5 to 9 months of age. 

This experience causes many discomforts, which is why they tend to look for male cats who can mate with them. 

There are several signs to tell that your cat is in heat. A few of them are: 

Your cat is in distress.

Cats who are looking for their potential mates tend to meow all the time. This behavior is called Calling.

Often, they manifest this behavior through excessive moaning, low crawling, rolling, or moving their tail to the side—a common mating position. Cats also get the need to escape from your house to meet a potential male.

Lastly, a good indicator of cats being in heat is their excessive display of affection. Your pregnant cat may rub herself on the furniture or your ankles to relieve herself from the discomfort. 

Your cat is marking their place.

There are two common reasons why cats mark their territory. The first one is to indicate their ownership, and the second is to publicize their availability for mating

This usually happens when there are other cats around the house or the neighborhood. However, there are other times that cats mark their territory when they're stressed and scared.

Your cat is grooming excessively.

Your cat's genital area may be extremely swollen during this time. As a result, the cat will likely lick this area more than often to clean it up. 

Your cat is losing their appetite.

As an owner, it is normal for you to panic whenever your cat is not in the mood to eat. You might think that they are ill or they must be hurt somewhere.

This is an expected behavior among cats who are in heat. It's an instinct to prioritize finding a mate first before having their own meal.

If she cannot find a mate, she will return to heat shortly in 1 to 2 weeks, which will continue until she gets pregnant. 

However, if she successfully found a potential mate, you must note that she will still mate with other tomcats during the same heat period. Resulting in a litter of kittens with different fathers. 

Cat Pregnancy 101: A Cat During Pregnancy

A Cat During Pregnancy

The process of cats getting pregnant is called “queening,” and the cat itself is called the “queen.”

When an unspayed cat gets pregnant, its pregnancy or gestation period can only last up to two months—approximately 64 to 66 days.

Spayed cats cannot get pregnant, but there are rare occasions that they can experience pseudopregnancy. Pseudopregnancy is when a cat shows signs of pregnancy without actually being pregnant.

However, when a cat gets pregnant, several signs and symptoms appear. But in the early stages of pregnancy, these signs and symptoms can be difficult to detect depending on your cat's breed and circumstances. 

The first thing you will usually notice when the cat is pregnant is its heat period. Your cat usually gets in the heat for about 2 to 3 weeks, but if this suddenly stops, then your cat is more likely to be pregnant. 

There are also other symptoms to look out for, such as:

“Pinking up” of their nipples

After two weeks of pregnancy, you will notice that the nipples of your cat are now enlarged than usual. Its color is remarkably different too. 

Increase in Appetite and Weight

Your cat will consistently gain weight throughout the cat's pregnancy due to its increase in appetite.

Their increase in weight depends on the number of kittens they are expecting.

Morning Sickness

Just like humans, cats also tend to experience morning sickness during their pregnancy.

Enlarging Abdomen

Around five weeks of pregnancy, you will now notice your cat's bulging abdomen.

It will continue to get more prominent depending on the number of unborn litters in their stomach.

Bear in mind that you must be careful not to touch this particular part of their body firmly. This will pose a risk to their kittens. 

Changes in Behavior

During pregnancy, a cat's behavior may change even for a little. They can be sweeter, and some get more aggressive.

It is important that you closely monitor their situation, so they have to stay indoors.

The best way to know that your cat is pregnant is to check them in with your local veterinarian. It is essential to know this to give them the proper care they need during and after their pregnancy.

Cat Pregnancy 101: Cats Before Labor and Delivery

Cats Before Labor and Delivery

Knowing that your cat is going to go through labor is an exciting time. You will be expecting a new litter of kittens. 

A cat's pregnancy can last for approximately 9 weeks. Here are the ways to know if your cat is going through labor:

Increased mammary glands size

Normally, cats have 4 pairs of mammary glands. Although they are already enlarged throughout their pregnancy, they will grow twice their size a week before giving birth to produce more milk. 

You can observe this by seeing cream-colored secretions from their nipples. Your cat usually wipes it up or lets it dry and leaves tiny white scabs on them.

Per nipple is usually believed to have its own distinctive aroma, which kittens use to attach themselves.

Nesting behavior

As human beings, the nesting behavior of your cat will also start during labor. You can support the cat at this point by placing the nesting box in a quiet and warm room free from draft. 

Draft-free is important since kittens cannot adjust their body temperature. 

Be sure the box's placement is out of bounds for other animals and children you might have. Encourage your cat to sleep in this box as soon as you notice its nesting behavior.

Temperature fall

One or two days before birth, the natural temperature of your cat will drop to 37.2ºC (99ºF) from 37.7º to 39.1ºC (100º to 102.5ºF).

You can check your temperature through their armpits, but usually, there are enough signs of labor that you wouldn't need to worry about taking their temperature.

Behavioral changes:

Your cat can be reclusive or very affectionate during the final week of pregnancy. 

But most cats like it better if you're with them since they can be clingy and restless during this stage of their life.

Decrease in appetite

Two things can cause this. One is the kittens pushing through their mother's stomach. And the other is because of anxiety.

Cat Pregnancy 101: Cats During Labor and Delivery

Cats During Labor and Delivery

Once you see that labor has started, you must keep an eye on your cat.

Cat labors usually go smoothly, but there's nothing wrong with overseeing everything to avoid complications.

First Stage

In this stage, your cat will have frequent intermittent contractions on its uterus. At this point, they will start panting heavily and visit their kittening bed non-stop.

It is essential not to move cats when they have chosen a spot. It might be their choice of place on where to deliver their kittens.

You may also start seeing vaginal discharge.

Second Stage

During their second stage, the uterine contractions will be more painful as each fetus enters the vulva. 

The delivery of each kitten may take from five up to thirty minutes with an interval of thirty to forty-five minutes.

Do not intervene. You must only watch them from a safe distance unless necessary (e.g., your cat passing out).

Third Stage

This stage is simply about the fetal membranes' passage. The mother tears open the placenta as each kitten is born.

There should be one placenta per kitten if the placenta is short upon counting. The twins must have shared one.

However, this still could be a sign of retained placenta, so don't hesitate to call your veterinarian to make sure.

Don't be shocked when the mother eats the placenta as it is entirely natural.

Interrupted Labor

During this stage, the mother cat will stop pushing her litter out. Don't panic! This is quite common among cats. 

If your cat is interrupting labor, they will rest happily, suckle the kittens already born, and eat their meals before getting a good nap. 

This may last from twenty-four to thirty-six hours. After this, your mother cat will go back to giving birth.

Cat Pregnancy 101: Cats After Labor and Delivery

Cats After Labor and Delivery

After helping your cat deliver their kittens, it's now time to keep a keen eye, not just on the mother but also on the newborn kittens.

The cuteness battery at this time is high, but looking after them isn't that easy.

Below are the things on how to help them: 

Allow the mother cat to set the pace.

If she's been your pet for a long time, she could allow you to come near her and her kittens.

If your cat has been rescued or fostered many times, they may prefer that you step back and let them take care of their own kittens. 

Keep the mother cat and her kittens in a warm, clean area of the house.

To prepare their own quarters, you must use a large box and stack some clean towels in it. Carefully place the mother cat and her kittens comfortably inside the box.

You must clean the box regularly and provide the kittens with blankets or heating pads to keep them warm.

Ensure that your cat and her kittens are getting high-quality foods.  

Your cat and her kitten’s food must have KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) added to it. These specially formulated foods provide the nutrients that they need.

Limit the number of people handling your cat. 

There should only be a limited number of people who are handling the cat, especially her kittens. Their immune system is still developing, and they are vulnerable to illnesses and infections during this time.

Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling them.

Don’t allow the kittens to interact with other animals yet.

It's impossible to predict how another animal will treat a tiny kitten, and neonatal cats are especially vulnerable at this age. 

If you have multiple kittens from the same litter, they can all be kept in the same box. They can assist each other in keeping warm. 

Caring for your cat and her newly delivered kittens requires constant attention, time, and effort. Helping the mother cat provide a safe space for her and her new family assures them to be at peace. 

Conclusion

It is a rewarding experience to see new kittens in the house. However, several things must be done to do this perfectly.

We must keep in mind to take time researching the said matter because it is only essential to ensure the safety of our beloved cats during the whole course of their pregnancy. 

Furthermore, understanding the possible risks can help you monitor her health and be ready when the big day arrives.

With this knowledge, you can make things easier for your cat, their kittens, and you.

READ NEXT: Dog Pregnancy 101: The Guide on Pregnant Dogs