Cat Gestation: Symptoms, Changes and the Birth Process

24 January, 2019
Learn about your cat's pregnancy and how to care for her at this time

Cats and humans have similar pregnancy symptoms. These symptoms aren’t immediately apparent, but become visible at the beginning of the third or fourth week of gestation. In today’s article, we’ll be telling you all about cat gestation, including the symptoms, the changes the cat goes through, and the birth process itself.

Physical changes during cat gestation

Calico cat lying down during cat gestation.

The first change that you can observe when a cat is pregnant is in the nipples. They begin to swell and turn a darker shade of pink. Another symptom is a change in appetite and morning nausea. Normally, there are also changes in behavior,  from loving and demanding your company, to being alone and distant.

By and large, the main sign of pregnancy is an increase in the size of the abdomen, which starts to enlarge at about five weeks of gestation.

In this period of pregnancy, a balanced diet is recommended; you should include a lot of meat, fish, and eggs, with a supplement of vitamins and minerals.

Delivery of kittens

We can tell that it’s almost time for a cat to give birth when we see the cat with enlarged mammary glands (breasts). Naturally, the accumulation of milk is the cause of this. Also, the genital area will become flaccid and relaxed.

The day before birth the cat will be restless, active, and will walk continually. She will also have a loss of appetite, and start to emotionally fall apart and howl. These cries become higher in tone the closer she gets to giving birth.

The birthing process

As she starts to give birth, the cries will become louder with each contraction, during which the first kitten will emerge. When the placenta doesn’t separate on its own, the cat will break it with her teeth.

There may be intervals between the birth of each kitten of between five minutes and one hour. Generally speaking, a cat will have between one to eight kittens. It may take a whole day for the entire litter to be born.

Generally, cats give birth with few complications and without human intervention. As soon as the little ones are born, they cozy up to their mother and begin nursing.

Steps in gestation

  • The period of cat gestation is shorter than we would have thought. Usually, it’ll last between 56 and 64 days and won’t be more than two months.
  • When we suspect that a cat is pregnant, the best thing to do is to take her to a veterinarian to confirm our diagnosis. We can ask how long our cat has been pregnant, so that we can calculate the date of the birth and prepare for it.
  • As soon as we know the length of gestation, we’ll need to take extra care of our cat. We’ll be able to guarantee that the mother and kittens are in optimum health by ensuring there is good nutrition.
  • Up until the sixth week of cat gestation, your pet can eat her normal food once a day. After this, the amount should be divided in half and be given twice a day instead of once a day. After the seventh week, this same amount should be divided into three parts and given morning, noon and night. In this way, the cat will eat the same daily amount, a little at a time.
A cat sitting in a garden.

  • The tinned food your cat may eat normally can be replaced with other, better quality food. As a result, the mother, as well as the kittens, will receive all of the necessary nutrients.
  • The cat’s personal area needs to be very clean and comfortable during pregnancy, with plenty of food and water. The more comfortable your cat feels, the calmer she’ll be when it’s time to deliver her kittens.

Can you play with your cat?

  • During gestation, we can continue to play the games that we usually play with our cat. The pregnancy doesn’t impede the cat in any way. At the same time, we need to be a little more gentle, avoiding brusque movements.
  • In the last phase of cat gestation, the kittens’ organs and muscles finish growing. During the final phase, their faces will develop, as well as the characteristic fur that’s going to cover their body for the rest of their lives.