Is your cat pregnant? This means that a very exciting time is waiting for you. But the following event also brings some questions, especially if it is the first birth of the cat. I have gathered the most important information about giving birth in cats to help you prepare for the event.
Once a cat becomes pregnant, it takes about nine weeks before the kittens are born. But the exact gestation period varies between 61 and 72 days. If the kittens have not been born after the 72nd day, an urgent visit to the veterinarian is recommended.
Cats generally reduce their usual activities during this period, except for those involving the food bowl. After all, now she has to “eat” for more. Of course, the weight of the future mother also changes, becoming visibly rounder.
Visit your veterinarian as soon as you notice that your cat is pregnant. The veterinarian is the one who can explain everything you need to know about birth in cats. On the other hand, he will tell you whether your pregnant cat and kittens are healthy and how many kittens to expect.
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He can detect the heart activity of kittens with ultrasound from day 24. From day 43, the exact number of kittens can be determined by means of an X-ray. By the way, a cat makes an average of three to six offspring per gestation. However, the first birth in cats comes with fewer kittens than the average.
Cats are usually able to give birth alone. Fortunately, complications are rare. However, as long as the cat is giving birth, watch what is happening, stay calm, and make sure the mother is comfortable. Avoid any stress for the cat toward the end and after gestation.
If the birth is near, give your cat soft bedding or boxes to give birth in. But not every cat appreciates these offers. During labor, some cats withdraw in the closet or in the laundry basket to give birth.
There are various signs that indicate birth in cats. The most important are:
If you notice these signs, it’s best to stay home while your cat is in labor to make sure you can help if there are any complications.
Like humans, cats go into labor before giving birth. The cat will start breathing faster and louder, purring, and may be more loving. Many domestic cats do not want to be left alone at this stage. In this case, treat her well and pet her.
Labor in cats takes about two hours. Contractions start right before. The cat visibly pushes the abdomen several times. Then the kitten is born quite quickly. It may take about an hour before the birth of the next kitten; the mother will rest during this period.
Immediately after birth, the cat will remove the amniotic sac, bite the umbilical cord and clean the kitten. Relatively hard licking is important to stimulate the kitten’s breathing. The cat may be exhausted after birth. If she doesn’t start this process alone, you can help her easily. Put the kitten face down and rub it carefully against the cloth. The goal is to release the airways and stimulate breathing.
By the way, do not be surprised if the cat eats the placenta after birth. It is a completely natural behavior of cats that helps, among other things, to keep predators away.
Cats give birth alone and usually do not need help from humans. Check your cat regularly during labor. But do not interfere in the birth process without good reason; this could stress the cat even more.
However, there are warning signs during and after birth in cats. If you notice any of them, you should contact your veterinarian:
Immediately after birth, kittens look for the mother’s nipples and start drinking the first milk. This is extremely important because kittens receive antibodies essential to their immune system and other nutrients. They can only absorb these substances in the first hours after birth. Only in 3-4 weeks, you will be able to offer kittens some solid food.
In some cases, after birth, the cat takes its kittens to another place to protect them from possible enemies. This is normal, it is an instinctive behavior. Let your cat choose the right place.