Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Care of a Pregnant Cat

If your cat was in heat and had access to a tom (unneutered male) cat, the likelihood that she is pregnant is very strong. A pregnant queen will show both physical and personality changes which will become more evident around three weeks after breeding. The gestation period for cats runs from 60 to 67 days. I like to use 63 days as an average, because it is easier to equate with human gestation (nine weeks vs nine months).


Physical Changes in a Pregnant Cat

*Heat Cycles Cease
This will be the first sign you may notice. If your female cat has been suffering heat cycles every 10 days to two weeks, and suddenly stops, it is very likely she is pregnant.

* Nipples Swell and Become Rosier in Color
Breeders call this "pinking," and it may be the first physical sign you will see.

*Increased Appetite
Your pregnant cat will show an increased interest in food. After all, she is not only eating for herself, but for several foetuses.

*Possible Vomiting
Pregnant queens may be subject to a few bouts of "morning sickness," much as human mothers-to-be. This in itself is not cause for alarm, but if it continues or is frequent, veterinarian intervention is needed.

* Abdominal Enlargement
Sometime around the fifth week of pregnancy, your pregnant cat's abdomen will start to swell noticeably, and it will continue to enlarge until time for birthing.

Personality Changes in a Pregnant Cat

*Increased Affection
Your cat may become more affectionate than normal and frequently seek out your attention. By all means, give it to her!

* "Nesting" Activities
This is not an early sign of pregnancy, but as the time for partruition (birth) approaches, your pregnant cat may seek out quiet, private places for birth to take place.

Clinical Diagnosis of Pregnancy in Cats

If your queen has had regular veterinary care, and the previous signs of pregnancy are evident, it may not be necessary to have an "official" diagnosis by a veterinarian, unless you have reason to fear something is wrong. However (and this is a big consideration), if your intent is to spay her, it is probably better that your veterinarian knows exactly what to expect.

* Palpation
Your veterinarian may be able to feel fetuses by palpating (feel by gently pressing) your queen's abdomen, usually around the 17th-20th day of pregnancy.

*Ultrasound
This diagnostic tool may detect fetuses as early as the second week of pregnancy, and heartbeats may be detected sometime after the third week.

If your resident (or rescued) cat is indeed confirmed pregnant, some serious decision-making time is at hand. See the next article in this series for help with that decision.

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