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Feline Pregnancy and Birth

The Pregnancy

Approximately three weeks after mating the colour of the nipples will become pinker, and this can be taken as a sign that the mating has been successful. From this point on your mum to be should receive a nourishing diet to help the kittens develop good strong bones and teeth. If you are feeding your cat a well-balanced diet there should not be any need to supplement it, as it is easy to overdose on minerals and vitamins. Some breeders give their cats calcium supplements to promote strong bone growth in the young kittens. It is very important that you consult a veterinarian before using any kind of supplement to avoid doing more harm than good! It is a good idea to increase the amount of food available both while she is pregnant, and for the first five weeks after the birth. 

The pregnancy will normally last for sixty-five days and you will need to provide a nice warm place for your cat to have her kittens. It can be a box lined with old newspapers, you will need to use several layers so that dirty layers can be removed as necessary to enable each kitten, as it is born, to be kept dry and warm. Keep the box in a quiet place without too much light and away from the usual household noise. Your pregnant cat will need to feel secure, and should be introduced to her new environment so she can start to get ready to" nest" You may think that your chosen location  for her kittens to be born is excellent, but cats are really good mothers, wanting the best for their kittens, and will often want to give birth else ware, so you may have to move the "birthing box" to a new location if that is what "mum" wants!

The Birth

The birth is normally straightforward and you will probably be more worried than your cat is, as most cats will know exactly what to do. The safest time to give birth in the wild, is at night and that is when most cats tend to produce their litter. The first sign of the impending birth will be the appearance of a "bubble". This is the protective water-filled birth sac containing her first kitten, as the contractions become apparent and the mother tries to push the kitten out the sac will burst allowing the first kitten to emerge, head first. The mother will then lick it all over to stimulate circulation and to dry it, then proceed to chew through the umbilical cord. There will be a separate placenta for each kitten, unless she has identical twins. Most cats will eat some or all of the nutritious placentas. 

Things with continue to proceed like this until all the kittens are born. Cats, like humans, all differ in the amount of time they spend in labour. Here is a listing of some possible problems that could be encountered:-

  • Placenta being retained, causing an infection - Make sure that a placenta is expelled with each kitten.

  • Cat's muscles unable to contract any longer - A vet will need to administer an injection to stimulate her back into labour, if this fails a Caesarean may be necessary.

  • Kitten stuck in the birth canal - Can be pulled out with clean, and lubricated fingers. Better left to the veterinarian if you have never done this before.

 Here are a few items to keep with you when the time arrives:-

  • A pair of blunt sterile scissors - if you have to cut the umbilical cord.

  • Clean towels - if the kittens are born quickly and the mother can't keep up with cleaning them, then you will have to clean and stimulate them.

  • Keep your vet's telephone number handy - If there are problems and you cannot handle them.

You should always inform the veterinarian of your cat's pregnancy as she may require regular check-ups.


[ Alphabetical Table of Feline Gestation Times ] Anatomy of a Pregnant Cat ] Looking After Kittens  ] Neutering ] 

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