cat pregnancy

Understanding Stages of Cat Pregnancy and Gestation Period

The gestation period is a term used to describe the development of kittens within the cat’s uterus. During their gestation period, kittens usually undergo multiple cellular, physiological and anatomical changes.

At the end of a gestation period, a kitten has fully formed and your cat will begin to go into parturition. Parturition in simple terms is the act of giving birth.

How long do cats stay pregnant?

A female cat will reach puberty at the age of 4 to 6 month and thus, during this time, she can get pregnant.

The length of the cat’s pregnant for will vary depending on their breed and individual genetics. In general, a large percentage of cat breeds have a gestation period of about 58 to 67 days.

Do Cats have Periods?

Once a female cat has its reached puberty she will experience her first estrus cycle. The estrus cycle is the period which a female cat will be receptive to a male. During this time, she displays unusual behaviors and will bleed a little from her vagina before her estrus.

Unlike humans, cats don’t get their period every month. In fact, they will only go on heat based on the amount of sunlight. This is referred to as seasonally polyestrous which also means that a cat can go on estrus(heat) many times in one breeding season.

The breeding season for cats is will be based on the number of sunlight hours. An unfixed female cat will begin to go on heat as the daylight increases. This is because, within the cat’s brain is a pineal gland that secretes of a hormone called melatonin. If a cat has a lot of melatonin, then they will not go on heat.

Melatonin is mainly produced at night when your cat is sleeping. This means that as nights get shorter, there will be a reduction in melatonin and this will induce heat in cats.

Facts about the Gestation Period for Cats

  1. A pregnant female cat will consume a lot of food.
  2. She will have to remain on a healthy and high protein diet.
  3. Kittens from the same cat can have different dads.
  4. All kittens should come out in a diving position which means that their head and forelimbs need to come out first.
  5. You can terminate an unwanted pregnancy in a cat by visiting your vet.

How long do cats stay on heat?

Understanding how long your cat will be in heat for can be difficult because your cat’s heat cycle will greatly depend on your geographical area.  A female cat can be on heat anywhere from 1 to 7 days. Sometimes even a few weeks.

If you don’t mate your female cat, then she will eventually come out of the heat and this will last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.

Indoor cats can be bit unique because they can go on heat multiple times in a year. This is mainly because they are in constant exposure to artificial light.

Cat’s pregnancy stages

Stage one

The cat will begin to appear anxious and she will start to pace back and forth towards a nesting area. This is often on a comfortable bed or a dark box.  This stage can last up to 36 hours while she is experiencing mild uterine contractions.

Stage two

The second stage of birthing where she will begin to experience strong uterine contraction. During this stage, your female will start to push her kitten out of her vulva and you will start to see fetal membranes and a water bag. Inside these “water bags” are will be a little kitten.

When the bag is almost entirely out, it will burst, and let the kitten out. Sometimes the bag may not break and the cat will bite off and chew the water bag.

This process can last up to 30 minutes for every kitten. This would mean that this stage 2 can last for about 12 to 24 hours, based on how many kittens your female cat has.

Stage three

During this stage, the cat will begin to pass out a dark red sac. This might look a little disgusting but it’s just the placenta.

Each kitten has its own placenta and so, it is essential for cat owners to keep track of how many placentas have been passed out because you don’t want to miss a kitten.

How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have?

A pregnant cat has the capability of producing between 1 to 9 kittens per pregnancy. However, if it is her first pregnancy, then she will produce a smaller number. On average, most female cats produce about 4 to 6 kittens per pregnancy.

How to Tell if a Cat is Pregnant

  1. Visit a veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis on if your cat is pregnant or not. The veterinarian will palpate your cat’s abdomen to detect a pregnancy and will be able to identify kittens when she is around four weeks pregnant.
  2. Psychological and behavioral changes
  • She will become more affectionate to you although during the later stages she might become unfriendly.
  • Cat’s belly will increase in size
  • Her nipples will become more pink
  • During the last stages, her nipples may swell and start to secrete some milk

How to prepare your cat for pregnancy

  1. During your cat’s pregnancy, create a safe and comfortable space for her. Place a bed and towel in a warm and dark area. Remember to show your queen this place weeks before pregnancy.
  2. A newborn kitten will have very little body fat, so they can get cold really fast. If the female cat does not use her body heat to keep the kittens warm, you need to provide warmth through a hot water bag or a heating pad. The temperature should be not more than the average body temperature of a cat.
  3. Sometimes the cat may not bite and chew through the umbilical cord and you will need to quietly step in. To remove the cord, you will need to tie two loops around the cord with a sewing thread then tear or cut in between the loops.
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