If you have an unaltered female cat that has recently had access to outdoors and now seems to be gaining weight then you may be wondering if they are expecting kittens. Here our Perry vets talk about how you can tell if your cat is pregnant and what care they will need if they are.
At What Age Can a Cat Become Pregnant?
Cats go in heat frequently. This means that the only way to ensure that you don't end up with a pregnant cat is by having your female cat spayed. Around 4 - 7 months of age your female cat is likely to experience her first heat cycle, meaning that she is physically mature and can produce her first litter of kittens.
Depending on the environment you live in, it is entirely possible for cats to go into heat as often as every 3 weeks. An unspayed female cat could have as many as four litters of kittens a year, with between 4-12 kittens in each litter. This means that if your cat is an unspayed adult female that has had access to the outdoor world, there is a good chance that she is expecting kittens.
How Will I Know That I Have a Pregnant Cat?
The typical pregnancy duration for cats is 8 weeks so the first thing that you can consider is if your cat has been allowed to roam outdoors within the past two months. If so, below are some other signs of pregnancy in cats that you may want to look for. Note that not all pregnant cats display the same symptoms or all of the symptoms below.
- Notable weight gain
- Pink, swollen nipples
- Distended abdomen
- Increased appetite
- Becoming more affectionate
- Hiding more often
- May sleep more than usual
If you are noticing the above symptoms and suspect that your cat is pregnant then you should bring them to your vet for an examination in order to confirm pregnancy and/or check for signs of any underlying health concerns that could be causing these symptoms.
How will my vet know if my cat is pregnant?
Your vet may perform a variety of tests to determine if your cat is pregnant. These tests may include:
- The first thing your vet is likely to do is palpate your cat's abdomen. Your vet will rub and squeeze your cat's tummy very gently in order to detect the presence of fetuses. If your cat is more than 17 days pregnant your vet may be able to confirm pregnancy in this manner.
- If there is a chance that your cat is more that two weeks pregnant then your Perry vet may recommend performing an ultrasound on your pregnant cat. Heartbeats can be spotted using ultrasound sometime after 21 days of pregnancy.
- If your vet believes your cat is fairly far along in her pregnancy (further than 42 days) they may recommend an X-ray. Digital X-rays or radiographs are considered very safe and can help to determine a due date for the kittens and how many there are.
How do I care for my pregnant cat?
If your Perry vet has determined that you do in fact have a pregnant cat then they will be able to provide useful tips and advice as well as let you know what steps you will need to take to prepare for kittens. That said, there are a number of things that are generally recommended in order to help a cat have a healthy and safe pregnancy and birth.
- Do not squeeze or press on her belly, since this can cause pain and in some cases may lead to miscarriage.
- Clean her litter box once or twice daily, and make sure that her litter box is easy for her to access as her tummy continues to expand and drop.
- Provide your pregnant kitty with plenty of high-quality food. Your cat may eat as much as 25% more than normal while pregnant and nursing. Ask your vet to recommend the best food for your pregnant cat.
- Ensure that your cat has a cozy, clean area that she can use to give birth and care for her kittens. This spot should be in a warm and quiet spot in your home, well away from kids, other human traffic, and other pets.