Having kittens is an exciting and emotional time for both you and your cat. But you need to know a couple of things regarding the pregnancy of your cat.
For starters, you have to notice the signs and symptoms of pregnancy. And if you are asking how long are cats pregnant, that is one of the easiest questions to answer.
It is important that when you plan to have kittens, you need to be prepared for everything that comes with that. With that in mind, we’ve covered a couple of topics so that you can help and support your cat during pregnancy, including the answer to how long are cats pregnant.
Cats and pregnancy
Same as humans, cats have a period of peak fertility when they can become pregnant. You might have heard it that February is the month of cats, as usual, this is their breeding month. Some also call it being in season or in heat.
But February is not the only month when your cat can get pregnant. Cats come into season once every three weeks, meaning there are a lot of opportunities for your feline friend to become pregnant.
Neutering can prevent pregnancy. If you decide to neuter your cat, we recommend doing it before her first season, as she can become pregnant easily after that.
How long are cats pregnant?
In most cases, pregnancy in cats lasts between 63 and 67 days. However, it is not always easy to know exactly how long a cat is pregnant. Same as humans, sometimes it is hard to determine the exact date your cat got pregnant. Gestation period can vary, and last as short as 61 days, and as long as 72 days.
In most cases, cats do not show signs of pregnancy until they are a few weeks into their term. If you suspect pregnancy, it is best that you take your cat to a vet to check her. But there will be plenty of signs and symptoms to notice your cat is pregnant.
How to tell if your cat is pregnant
Most cats show physical signs that you can easily read, and notice the pregnancy. Usually, these physical signs appear two or three weeks after getting pregnant.
Here are some signs to watch for.
- Your pet’s nipples will become enlarged and red, a condition known as “pinking-up” after 15 or 18 days into the pregnancy
- Your cat will go through her own stage of morning sickness, vomiting in the morning. Be sure to check if she is pregnant, or just unwell
- Future mothers gain between 1-2kg during pregnancy, despite no changes in diet. The weight gain depends on the number of kittens your cat is carrying
- Late in their pregnancy, cats have an increased appetite, which further contributes to weight gain. You see, there are a lot of similarities to humans
- The tummy of your cat will begin to swell. Avoid touching it, as you do not want to hurt your cat or her unborn kittens
- Cats start acting more maternal. Some signs include more purring and seeking extra fuss and attention
How to tell your cat is about to go into labor
Now that we know that the answer to how long are cats pregnant is between 61 and 72 days, you need to calculate the date of labor. But there will also be telling signs your cat is about to give birth to new kittens.
- Your cat’s body temperature will drop in the 12-24 hours before her labor to 37.8 C
- Your cat might start refusing food in the days leading up to labor
- Mothers to look for a secluded place to settle down, where they can give birth to their kittens
- Just before giving birth, cats will become more vocal and look to wash constantly
- Delivery starts with strong abdominal contractions, followed by some discharge from the vagina
- Kittens follow very quickly after the discharge
In most cases, cats go through labor smoothly and there is no need for you to interfere. However, if you notice discolored discharge, and your cat is straining without producing any kittens, contact your vet immediately.
The Five Stages of Pregnancy
When are cats ready to get pregnant? When they can pregnant? This is a question closely related to how long are cats pregnant.
Cats reach their sexual maturity as early as six months of age. Some cats can even go into heat at five months of age. Depending on how many cats mated with your queen, a litter can have more than one father.
Early stage of cat pregnancy
What is considered an early stage? These are the first two or three weeks of your cat’s pregnancy.
This is the period when you will notice morning sickness, vomiting, and your cat eating less because of nausea. By the third week, she will start eating again.
The middle stage of pregnancy
This is the period when your cat starts gaining weight. The middle stage starts after the first three weeks. Upcoming kittens are getting bigger, and your cat’s tummy will begin to swell. An X-ray can show how many kittens your cat is carrying.
The pre-labor stage begins a week before giving birth. At this point of pregnancy, you can easily notice the nipples of your cat, and in some cats, even see milk drops on them.
Your cat will look for warm and safe places to give birth. Help her by offering nesting boxes in places she prefer. Two days before going into labor, your cat will stop eating.
Labor and delivery
Just before going into labor, your cat will lick her genitals and produce noises of discomfort. If it is her first litter, she will be anxious. Approximately one hour after labor starts, your cat will give birth to the first kitten, and remaining kittens will come every 15 to 20 minutes until the last one is born.
Just after giving birth, mother cats clean up their kittens by licking them and eating the placentas. She does the later to get extra nutrition. Even if you think it is gross, you should let your cat eat the placenta, as it provides the nutrition she needs.
How many kittens are in a litter?
There is no rule of thumb for this question. A lot of it depends on the individual mother and circumstances. Young cat mothers and first-time mothers have between 2 and 3 kittens. As your cat ages, her next litter might have between 4 and 5 kittens. Once your cat becomes old, she will reduce the size of her litter.
You also have to know that in any litter, immediately after giving birth, some kittens might not survive. Kittens can be lost because the mother cannot feed them all, will not feed them all, or they are stillborn.