If you have a cat that is not spayed and you allow her to be around male cats, it is very likely that she will become pregnant at some point.
Cats get pregnant easily, so if you don’t want new kittens to fill your home, you can do two things: either sterilize her or keep her away from other cats by not allowing her to go out.
However, accidents do happen, and if she escapes one day to the streets, it is very possible that she can return as a future mother. Therefore, if you have not sterilized your cat, and you suspect that she has been mounted by a cat, you will want to check: how do I know if my cat is pregnant?
You may also be interested in reading the article: Behavior of a cat after giving birth to kittens.
The gestation and heat period of a first-time cat
Female cats are very prolific, an unsterilized female that frequently goes outside can become pregnant in a single encounter with a male cat.
First-time cats have their first heat around 6 months of age, but it can even happen that a kitten has her first cycle when she is just 4 months old . Eastern breeds such as Siamese and Burmese go into heat around 5 months, while larger, long-haired breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons are about 10 months old.
Being pregnant lasts nine weeks or around 63 days for a cat . In the first initial weeks, there are no major external changes. However, once the changes start, you will notice them and that is usually around three weeks into your pregnancy.
How to know if a cat is pregnant?
As for the signs that your cat is pregnant, I indicate the following that you can check:
- Change in nipple color
At about 3 weeks into your cat’s pregnancy, her nipples will darken and increase . Known as “pink” by veterinarians, this is a normal symptom of pregnancy. You may also notice a milky discharge from the nipples, although female cats do not begin to produce milk until after delivery.
- Possible morning vomiting
If your cat begins to vomit quite frequently, it is very possible that she is pregnant. Female cats can get morning sickness just like humans.
Although not all cats experience morning sickness and vomiting, be sure to monitor their health carefully throughout their pregnancy and monitor for any unusual symptoms. Let your vet know if the vomiting is excessive or if she looks sick.
- Swollen abdomen or belly
Around 30 days, a pregnant cat will begin to present a swollen and rounded abdomen ; however, your belly is not always easily noticeable, especially if you are overweight.
- Their heat cycles stop
If you have a cat that is not spayed, you probably know what her heat cycles are like. When a cat is in heat, she generally becomes more affectionate, makes noises that almost sound like she’s in pain, rolls a lot on the ground, and appears to be looking for something.
If you’ve suddenly realized that she hasn’t done it in a while, it could be because she’s pregnant.
- Nesting to prepare for calving
During the last two weeks of pregnancy, she can begin preparing a zone for delivery . This is known as “nesting.” This instinctive behavior consists of the cat looking for a quiet place where she feels safe to deliver.
Also, you can show more affection than usual, purr more often, and even display maternal instincts. However, you can also be less patient with other pets or domestic animals.
- The cat becomes more affectionate
Cats also go through mood swings when they are pregnant, but in their case, they feel more affectionate . When pregnant, female cats seek affection and attention.
- They are hungrier than usual
This is another side effect that might be easy to miss. When cats are pregnant, their appetite will increase, but if your cat already has a very high appetite, you will not notice it.
While these may be the most common characteristics in pregnant cats, the surest way to find out is to take her to a trusted vet.
During the visit, the vet will perform an X-ray or ultrasound to determine if she is pregnant. Because the X-ray does not detect a kitten’s skeleton for at least 40-45 days, an ultrasound can be done after 21 days.
X-ray allows the doctor to see how many kittens are in the uterus, while the number is more difficult to determine with ultrasound from ultrasound.
X-ray uses a very small amount of radiation, so it is generally safe for the mother and developing babies.
Caring for your pregnant cat. What to keep in mind
Your feline friend’s pregnancy is physically and emotionally demanding, so don’t burden her with unnecessary pressure, this is the time when your cat should be stress-free and relaxed.
Here I indicate three questions that you should take into account, as something basic.
- Morning sickness
As I have indicated, some cats experience morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, as well as vomiting or a lack of appetite. While this is perfectly normal, be sure to get a full check-up by your vet to ensure that everything is going well.
Your vet can give you additional information on what symptoms are (or are not) normal, and how to keep your cat as comfortable as possible throughout her pregnancy.
- Signs of fatigue
Pregnancy is physically demanding due to the changes that occur throughout her body and the wave of hormones that run through her system, therefore, your cat may show signs of fatigue.
For example, you can make your cat feel a little more comfortable by creating a cozy space in your home. Provide a bed for her, and blankets or pillows so she can begin the nesting process.
- Nutrition of the cat
Like any pregnant mother in the animal kingdom, your cat will require quality nutrition throughout her pregnancy , she will need additional food and a high calorie diet. Generally, a pregnant cat will eat about 1.5 times more than her usual diet.
So be sure to discuss your pet’s nutritional needs with your vet, who will likely advise you on what kind of cat food to eat (and how often). It may seem obvious, but make sure your cat has enough fresh water available along with her food bowl to ensure optimal hydration.
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