How Long Are Cats Pregnant And Their Gestation Period?

How Long Are Cats Pregnant
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When your cat is expecting, it is the most beautiful feeling to have knowing ahead of time that a new member is joining the family very soon. The cuteness overload of the coming bundle of joy leaves the pet parents giddy and beyond happy. But, with a pregnant cat in the house comes a huge responsibility. It is very important to know what should be expected when your cat is pregnant. There are various questions if your are a pet parent experiencing the first cat birth including how long the cat pregnancy lasts usually, how to prepare for the gestation period and after birth, etc. Keeping a veterinarian on speed dial is usually the best choice to help ensure a smooth delivery, but as nature prepares everything, they have equipped cats to deliver naturally on their own.

Although, we are known to the fact that veterinarian bills are expensive when both checkups and aftercare are included. One can avoid the frequent visits and only visit or be visited when the time to delivery has arrived. Moreover, most of the pet insurance plans do not cover costs incurred due to pregnancy and birth, only a few in the market covers preventative treatments such as spaying. Which is why pet parents usually take care of their pregnant cats with a little help with right information.

How Long Are Cats Pregnant?

Pregnant cats have a gestation period of approximately 64 days from the time of breeding and may range anywhere between 52 and 74 days, or about nine weeks. But, of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Just like with humans, cats too can sometimes give birth a little early or a little late. As humans, cat pregnancy is divided into three trimesters too, but lasting about 20 days each. To determine how far your cat is pregnant already, a veterinarian visit is a must. They’ll help determine when the breeding too place and how old is the pregnancy.

Cat Pregnancy Gestation

A physical exam performed by the veterinarian can tell whether your cat is pregnant or not and how long they are into their pregnancy. There are five stages of pregnancy in cats and they start with the estrus cycle and ends with the birth. Most times, one can suspect their cat is pregnant but you may want to know for sure so that you can find out which stage she is at. With each stage, the symptoms vary and they are helpful in determining how old the pregnancy is.

The five stages during their gestation period are:

  • Fertilization
  • Early Stage Of Pregnancy
  • Ongoing Pregnancy
  • Early Labor Signs
  • Giving Birth

Usually, within two weeks of pregnancy, veterinarian should be able to feel the kittens by running a physical examination. When three weeks are in, their heartbeats will be detectable on an ultrasound. After six weeks, their skeleton is formed and can be seen on an X-ray. There are some rare cases where a cat may develop a condition called “pseudopregnancy, or a false pregnancy. These cats may still have mammary development and other symptoms of pregnancy and even lactation without actually carrying babies. Only a veterinarian can diagnose this if it’s what your cat is going through.

During the first gestational period or trimester (1 to 20 days), your cat may show some behavioral changes, loss in appetite, moments of nausea as well as vomiting. If you have an expert eye as a veterinarian, you can also trace signs of larger nipples in the cats and their nipples may appear more pink than normal. Also, they do not go into heat when they are pregnant and a missed heat is a good sign of them expecting. In the first trimester, they may become more affectionate and docile.

During the second trimester (20 to 40 days), there behavioral changes include increased appetite, lethargy, increased grooming under their belly and tail. Pregnant cats are seen gaining weight during this time. And their mammary glands will begin producing milk for their babies.

During the third trimester (40 to 65 days), the mummy cat will begin to develop their nest to secure a safe birthing space. She’ll search every nook and corner in the house that is quiet and private to choose for her nest. They can make use of cardboard box with pillows, blankets and towels too if they are readily made available to them. Since newborns are temperature-sensitive, some help with keeping them warm will always be welcome.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Give Birth?

When it is time to deliver, your cat will show some signs like panting, overgrooming, nervousness and may even cease eating. Some other signs that signals that your cat is going into labor are mammary glands starts releasing milk 24 to 48 hours before the actual labor begins and their will be a drop in rectal temperature to less than 100°F within the last 24 hours. Your cat’s natural instincts will take over and usually they do not need additional help from veterinarian. But, if you want to have one around for the safety of your cat in need of an emergency, you can contact her vet once the above signs starts showing.

Some cats also have vaginal blood discharge in the hours leading up to the birth and that may last for a few days after too. It should not go beyond a week and if the discharge continues, veterinarian involvement is needed to examine her for any postpartum complications such as retained placenta.

For cats who are birthing for the first time, their labor may go up to 35 hours, as study says. And they may birth each kitten with a interval anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, usually the average interval is 15 to 20 minutes. The overall time taken for birthing depends on how big the litter is and the intervals between each birth. If the mother cat is taking a long time between each birth, their may be chances of complications such as the baby getting stuck in the birth canal, best is to contact the veterinarian immediately.

We recommend that even if veterinarian is not around during the delivery, the mother cat is examined by them after to make sure there are no undelivered kittens and to determine whether the production of milk is adequate for the litter. Although rare, if the mother is not producing adequate milk, the veterinarian can inject her with hormone oxytocin injection to contract the uterus and stimulate milk production.

A quick look at what you should ask the pet expert:

How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have?

Cats often have between three and six kittens per litter, but in rare cases, this number can range from one all the way up to 19 kittens per litter. If she is birthing for the first time, the average is one to three kittens per litter, but they can go up to nine per litter too. Some breeds, like Siamese and Oriental, often have more kittens. Cats can deliver trice a year with as many per litter but it is advised to limit their pregnancy to one or twice a year to give the mother enough rest and time to take care of her already birthed litters. Best approach is to keep male cats away from them as long as you can by making sure no male cat is residing or roaming in your neighborhood.

In theory, it is said that a cat can give birth to 280 kittens over her lifetime. They can get pregnant when they are as young as 4 months old.

The litter size may also depend on the health factor of a cat. A healthy cat usually has more kittens. A sick or hungry cat may not be able to carry a large litter. Moreover, illnesses such as feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) can also affect pregnancy and the kitten count.

Ideal Pregnancy Age For Cats

A cat can get pregnant as early as 4 months, if not spayed. Although that early an age to become pregnant, but very much possible. At an average, most cats are getting pregnant at around 6 months of age. But, young pregnant cats may face birthing complications and may need C-section. There are cases recorded where young cats are not able to tend to their litters because they are simply young. It is generally recommended to keep your young cats away from male companions until they turn 18 to 24 months old which is an adult fully grown age for them.

How To Tell How Many Kittens A Cat Will Have

It’s not possible to predict or find out how many kittens your cat is going to deliver without any additional help or a visit to the veterinarian. They have a few methods but not all of them are perfect, but useful if you want to know how many new members you are expecting in your family. Few of these methods are as follows:

Ultrasound: Doing an ultrasound may give an idea about how many kittens are expected. But the procedure may not give clear idea about the exact number.

X-ray: This procedure is usually risky because it exposes the litter and the mother to radiation which is why we recommend to avoid it.

Palpation: This procedure includes gently feeling the cat’s belly and roughly making a guess as to how many kittens the mother is carrying. Again, this is not an assured procedure that can give exact numbers.

Bottom Line

Pregnancy is not an easy period be it for humans or cats. Additional care and preparedness is needed to face the biggest period of your family member’s life. It’s important to keep an eye open to observe your pregnant cat over the gestation period and look for signs of emergency. Keep the veterinarian on speed dial so that if something happens, the needed medical care is available. But, overall, trust your cat’s instincts to deliver the babies safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

– How Quickly Do Cats Breed?

After delivering already, a cat can get pregnant again within a few weeks as they go into their heat cycle. At an average, they can become pregnant thrice or more in a year depending on their age and health factors.

– What To Do With Stillborn Kitten?

Stillbirths usually happen due to congenital malformations or birth defects. All a pet parent can do is provide compassion and support. Wrap the stillborn in a clean cloth and bury them in your yard (If your state’s law allows it). You can also take them to the veterinarian or the animal shelter to have them help you.

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