The end of winter heralds the resumption of the mating season in cats. As soon as she reaches puberty, which can occur as early as 4 months and up to 18 months, the female is then likely to wait for cubs if she is not sterilized and she has crossed paths with a handsome male … Her gestation will then be relatively short: about sixty days, or 8 to 9 weeks. She will then experience important changes, physical but also behavioral, during this period. We present the main steps.
- From the 1st to the 4th week: discreet transformations
- From the 4th to the 8th week: significant physical changes
- From the 8th to the 9th week: the farrowing
From the 1st to the 4th week: discreet transformations
In the first weeks after fertilization, the embryos of future kittens remain very small: they measure only a few millimeters and weigh no more than a few grams. Also, the situation of the pregnant cat can go relatively unnoticed during this period. Nevertheless, there are clues that can put the flea on the ear, such as an increased appetite or morning sickness.
Significant transformations in behavior usually also take place. A cat waiting for cubs may suddenly become very affectionate and seek companionship, or on the contrary show sulky and lonely (emotional “roller coaster” that should not worry …). After 3 weeks, we can also notice a enlargement of her nipples and a darkening of their color. It is also from this moment that a veterinarian will be able to confirm the gestation by performing an ultrasound scan.
From the 4th to the 8th week: significant physical changes
From the 4th week and especially from the 6th, the fetuses of future kittens will grow rapidly. This is reflected in significant physical changes: the back of the pussy will dig in, her pelvis will widen, and bulges will appear on her flanks. From the 6th week, the veterinarian will be able to perform an X-ray to find out the exact number of kittens to be born. He will also be able to prescribe the necessary treatments (deworming, flea control …) to avoid any contamination from the mother to her young.
From the 4th week, it is also important to give proper food to the pregnant cat. This is because she has increased energy needs, even though her swelling belly can make it difficult for her to absorb large amounts of food. “Pregnant or lactating female” kibble or kibble for kittens (richer) can meet these nutritional criteria and be given until the end of weaning.
From the 8th to the 9th week: the farrowing
The majority of gestations last between 63 and 67 days, but variations to a few days before or after may occur. To prepare for the D-day, we can arrange from the 8th week a “nest” in a quiet place, where the cat can come to take refuge for the farrowing. A large basket or crate, closed on top by a cloth or a removable lid, lined with shreds of newspapers covered with a blanket will do. When the time comes, signs will show that farrowing is imminent: the cat may have small milk losses, will have visible contractions and will begin to purr loudly. Namely: his body temperature also begins to drop slightly (by 1 °C). It is then necessary to leave her alone, while discreetly monitoring.
Depending on the situation of the cat (age, previous maternity …) and the size of the litter (generally, from 2 to 6 kittens) the farrowing can last from 2 to 6 hours, but also in some cases about ten hours. The cat will normally take care of tearing the membrane surrounding the kitten, licking it so that it breathes and cutting the umbilical cord (otherwise the master will have to perform these gestures). Complications are rare in cats, but can happen. Also, in case of doubt a call to his veterinarian will rule out any risk.