Cats are pregnant for roughly 63 days, or nine weeks. Occasionally a cat will deliver her kittens as early as 57 days or as late as 69 days. The average litter is three to five kittens, although they can have as few as one, or as many as eight. A pregnant cat is known as a queen and she requires proper care in order to deliver healthy kittens and to be able to nurse them correctly.
A pregnant cat should be in excellent condition, and should be fed good quality kitten food from her fifth week of pregnancy onwards. Many cat owners do not know the difference between a low quality cat food and a good quality one, after all every food markets itself as “the best”. A good quality kitten, or cat, food has a proper meat source as the top ingredient, not corn, not rice, not a “by-product”.
A pregnant cat should be given free choice dry kitten food at all times, and should have a small amount of canned food two, or three, times a day, especially in her final weeks, or if she is very young, or very old. She should have access to water at all times.
Do not give your pregnant cat any extra vitamins without talking to your veterinarian first.
General Care for a Pregnant Cat
Ideally a pregnant cat should be kept inside only. If allowed out she could get picked up and dumped in another area of town, or become lost, and have her kittens where you cannot aid them if needed. When allowed outside the mother can become infested with worms, or fleas, both of which she can pass on to her kittens. As well she is at risk for diseases which can cause problems for her, and her unborn kittens.
A pregnant cat should be seen by a veterinarian around 30 days of pregnancy, at this time the vet can check her condition and can “feel” for kittens, and give you an idea how many kittens she is carrying.
A special room should be prepared for the cat. It should have a litter box with non-clumping, non-scented, litter. She should have her food and water in the room, and a nesting box made up. This needs to be a fairly quiet room with a door, as the cat, and her kittens, should be kept in that room until they are 6 weeks of age.
Do not treat the cat with any medication or chemicals without checking with your veterinarian first. If your cat wears a flea collar, remove it, and get a flea comb instead.
Be sure to have the veterinarian’s phone number handy at all times. As well make sure you have at least $1000 available in case a caesarian section, or other emergency care, is needed.
Image by Salim Virji via Flickr
Abortion and Spay
Although you may not want to consider it you should be aware that at any time during a cat’s pregnancy a veterinarian can spay the cat and abort the litter. If this is to be done it is best if done before the queen is more than 40 days along. The reasons for doing a spay to a pregnant cat can be many, including reducing the risk of pregnancy and complications to a cat, as well as controlling an unwanted cat population.
Further Reading on Cats and Kittens