Congratulations! You’re about to be the owner of a few furry bundles of joy. Because a mother cat’s gestation period is so short — about 63 days — you won’t have months to prepare yourself and your home for the new arrivals. However, cats are relatively low maintenance when it comes to handling pregnancy. For instance, you shouldn’t have to make multiple trips to the veterinarian. However, there are a few things you should do to make your cat’s pregnancy and birthing as safe and comfortable as possible. Click through for some guidance on how to help your cat welcome her kittens into the world.
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CONFIRM YOUR CAT IS PREGNANT
Unfortunately, a vet can’t test a cat’s urine or blood to confirm pregnancy like doctors can for humans. You will have to rely on telltale physical signs that the cat is pregnant, like swollen mammary glands on its abdomen. The cat won’t be “showing” until 17-25 days into the pregnancy. Do not try to feel for the babies yourself, as they are very delicate and you could cause complications.
KEEP YOUR CAT INDOORS
If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, keep her inside once you’ve confirmed the pregnancy. Being pregnant makes a cat more vulnerable than usual, plus you don’t want her to give birth somewhere outdoors. You also don’t want your cat hurt by other cats or animals or exposed to harmful things while running around the neighborhood.
WATCH FOR SIGNS OF ILLNESS
Pregnant cats, like pregnant humans, can suffer from morning sickness. While your cat may vomit, not eat as much and be lethargic some days, it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if you notice a change in her behavior for several days in a row, or if she continues to avoid food and water, something may be wrong. Take your cat to the vet immediately, as there could be a complication with the pregnancy.
FEED YOUR CAT KITTEN FOOD
An expectant cat will begin to eat more as the final stages of its pregnancy come about. Feed your cat twice a day once the pregnancy is confirmed, then as much as four times a day toward the end. Gradually add in kitten food to her diet until she is eating all kitten food the final week of her pregnancy. Also make sure to consult your veterinarian, who can recommend a good kitten food and also provide nutritional supplements.
STOP USING FLEA/TICK PREVENTION MEDICATIONS
Just as a pregnant woman should beware which medications she takes, so should your cat. If possible, flea and tick prevention medication should be discontinued while your cat is pregnant and nursing. If you feel you need to keep using it, consult your veterinarian for recommendations on which brands are safe for your cat.
MAINTAIN A VERY CLEAN LITTER BOX
Your mama cat will be eating more and will have babies inside her belly, pushing up against her internal organs. Because of this you may find that she’s using the litter box more than usual. To keep her comfortable and prevent any accidents elsewhere in the house, diligently clean the litter box at least daily if not more frequently. This is also important if your mama cat is sharing the box with other cats.
GET A KITTY BOX READY
As your cat’s pregnancy enters its final few weeks, you should prepare the kittening box where your cat will give birth. An old cardboard box lined with newspapers, old T-shirts or towels should be placed in a quiet, draft-free room away from other people and pets. Cut the box so the cat can come in and out freely. Encourage your cat to sleep in this box prior to the litter's arrival so its scent is there when the kittens are born.
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LET THE CAT'S INSTINCTS TAKE OVER
Allow your cat to give birth to her kittens naturally and don’t intervene unless you notice she is having complications. Do not touch the kittens while they are being born, but feel free to stand by and watch the process. The kittens will be born in membrane sacs and the mother will lick them free, eat the afterbirth and guide the kittens to nurse. Let your cat follow her instincts during this time, and avoid picking up the kittens if you can for at least a week.