If you don’t spay your cat, she has the potential of becoming pregnant which will mean that you will soon have kittens running around getting into everything. Although it can be an exciting time to know you will have more little kitties to play with, there are things that you’ll have to do to prepare for the arriving brood, and meanwhile, mama cat will be doing her own preparing, all in anticipation of being a new momma. A cat has the potential of becoming pregnant at about six months of age, which is the general age in which cats reach their sexual maturity. It has even been heard of that a cat can go into heat at about five months old, which is really why it is a good idea to get a cat spayed. And did you know that there can be more than one father cat per litter of kittens, and it all just depends on how many Tom cats are successful with mating with the female during heat. For cats, there are essentially five stages of pregnancy and the first is easy; fertilization. So let’s go through the stages, starting with the beginning.
When a female cat is not spayed, she goes into heat many times a year. If she has the ability to be around male cats, let out to wonder around the neighborhood, the males will find her and try to mate with her. If she happens to encounter multiple males that mate successfully with her during that heat cycle, she can have several male cats who are fathers of her kittens.
2. Early stages
During the first few weeks of pregnancy, or early stages, your cat will actually suffer what humans suffer with during their first trimester, and that is what we call morning sickness. Yes, cats get it too, and you may notice her not eating as much, she may experience nausea and some vomiting, which you may think could be illness, or hairball related. But about three weeks into her pregnancy, her appetite should return and she will probably start to gain her first pregnancy pounds. This is also the time that if she’s palpable enough, you could even begin to feel the first little lumps in here belly that are the kittens developing.
3. Middle stage
Just past the early stage, is the middle stage where she is really packing on the pounds, but all seems to be in the belly as opposed to all over. Her belly starts to swell and her kittens are really growing. She may start to lay around more, and you may notice that she lays on her side more since her belly is growing. Jumping may be a bit harder for her and she may start to show a lot more affection, wanting attention and to be close to you. If you are curious to know how many kittens she’s carrying, your vet can perform an X-ray to see.
Just about a week before deliver, a female cat’s nipples become very visible. Many times, milk droplets form and drip out from them during this time. Your cat will get into her nesting stage and start looking for a nice, warm, safe place for her to birth her kittens, and this is the time you want to prepare a place for her. A nesting box with a warm towel or blanket for her, should be offered to her. Your kitty will also start to refuse food about two days before she goes into labor, so if you notice this about her, you should know it’s about time for her to go into labor.
5. Labor and delivery
Just when labor is about to begin, you won’t help but be able to notice the signs. She’ll start licking her genitals and she’ll begin making sounds that tell you she is in uncomfortable. If this is her first litter, she may act a little anxious and do a lot of pacing or other nervous-types of actions. Once active labor starts, she should give birth to her first kitten. Once the first kitten is born, the other kittens should follow about every fifteen to twenty minutes all the way until the end of the births. Typically the momma cat cleans up each kitten, licking them and eating the placentas that come out with the kittens. This gives her extra nutrition that she needs, so don’t stop her from doing this. It is natural and it is needed.One thing you can do as your cat’s caretaker and owner, is to not panic when she starts labor and rush her into the vet. All you need to do is just keep a watchful eye on how everything is going and make sure everything’s progressing as it should.
Once all the kittens are born, healthy and happy, you will want to let them all stay together for a minimum of eight weeks. Babies need to be with their mom for this long in order to properly wean from their mom an d be strong enough to survive on their own. Although eight is acceptable, 12 is even better and preferred if you can allow it. When the kittens are all weaned and old enough to find homes of their own, you will want to get your momma cat spayed as soon as possible because she can go right back into heat pretty quick once the babies are done nursing.