Just like humans, cats needs to remain calm and healthy during pregnancy in order to deliver healthy offspring. While the cat gestation period only lasts nine weeks, their care requirements have a surprising number of similarities to that of a pregnant human.
Before making special arrangements, it would be wise to ensure that your cat is actually pregnant, and not just overweight. Aside from the obvious weight gain, darkened and enlarged nipples are another giveaway.
Once you’ve confirmed that your cat is pregnant, it’s recommended that you take her to the vet to make sure there are no issues or complications. Using ultrasound technology, your vet should be able to tell you how many kittens are expected and approximately when they’re due.
Start mixing kitten food into your cat’s regular diet. Overall, you should be feeding her at least 25% more than usual, depending on the size of her litter. Kitten food provides extra calories and nutrition to help the fetal kittens grow. Just like any diet change, you’ll want to avoid doing this too abruptly to avoid digestive issues. As always, your cat should have access to fresh water at all times.
As is the case with pregnant humans, your cat may exhibit unusual behaviors during this time in her life. She may show signs of discomfort, as well as increased appetite, and even a stronger desire for attention. Use common sense and cooperate with her, as much of this behavior is instinct-driven. If she wants more food, feed her. If she’s feeling affectionate, pet her!
As the due date approaches, introduce a whelping box in a safe and familiar area. This is simply a box with blankets and or towels, providing your cat comfort and security while giving birth. It should be open on top, but ideally not out in the open, where she may feel vulnerable. Giving birth is messy business, so any materials added to the box should be easy to wash or okay to dispose of.
Once you’ve set up the box, draw your cat’s attention to it by providing affection or treats. Do this a few times, and gauge your cat’s comfort level. If she doesn’t seem to enjoy spending time there, you may want to rethink its location. Placing a cat’s favorite blankets, or something that smells like her, may also help her feel at home.
Around the nine week mark, the day will finally arrive where your cat goes into labor! All cats are different, but a common sign is seeing your cat panting and nesting in blankets. She may also groom herself much more than usual. On this big day, you need to keep your home as quiet and stress-free as possible. This means no visitors or strange smells, like cleaning products, if you can help it.
It is completely normal if your cat goes into labor somewhere other than your whelping box, no matter how accepting she seemed earlier. Some cats will even start making their own nest, often stealing items like dirty laundry from around the house.
While it is ideal to let your cat handle the birthing process on her own, you should be aware of the normal stages so that you may intervene if necessary. Despite the common misconception, your cat will not abandon her kittens if you touch them. The most important thing is that the newborn kittens are safe from falls or suffocation when they finally arrive.
Now that you’ve made it through the ordeal of caring for a pregnant cat, it is time to begin the journey of raising her kittens! This is a fun and heartwarming experience, but it is to be taken very seriously. Be sure to do your reading before the kittens arrive- nine weeks will pass before you know it!