If you have a female cat and she has not been spayed, she could start going into heat as early as four months old, although it usually happens between six and twelve months. Once she is in heat, if she comes into contact with a unneutered male cat there is a very good chance that she will become pregnant and nine weeks later she will have a litter of kittens.
How can you tell if your cat is in heat?
There are a few signs you can look out for.
- Rubbing up against objects, people or other animals.
- Urinating against objects to spread her scent. This will smell stronger than usual.
- Calling. This is a long howl that alerts males she is ready to mate.
- Raising her rear end in the air with her tail upright, mimicking the mating position.
Signs To Watch For In Pregnant Cats
- Seeking more affection than usual.
- The nipples may become swollen or pinker.
- An increased appetite.
- Morning sickness
It can be quite difficult to determine a cats pregnancy during the first three weeks. After the fourth week your vet should be able to confirm the pregnancy by feeling around the abdomen area.
Caring For Your Cat During Pregnancy
Most cats handle pregnancy and labour very well and will usually look after themselves. There are a few things that you can do to help her though.
- Try and keep her indoors, this will reduce the risk of infections and infestations.
- Feed her a diet high in nutrients.
- Prepare a nesting area for her to give birth.
- Try and avoid stress like loud noises.
When your cat goes into labour, hopefully everything is going to go smoothly. She will prefer solitude for the birth, but you should be somewhere nearby. There a few things that could possibly go wrong.
She may get a kitten stuck in the birthing canal, If this happens and the kitten does not come out after ten minutes, then you should ring an emergency vet immediately.
When she gives birth, she should puncture the sac surrounding the kitten and start licking the kitten to encourage breathing. If she doesn't then you should puncture the sac with your nail to prevent the kitten drowning and place the kitten near the mothers mouth to encourage her to lick it. If she still doesn't lick the kitten then you can simulate this by rubbing the kitten gently with a towel.
After she gives birth she will take a fifteen to twenty minute break between kittens, she may even wander off to get a drink.
Don't worry if a kitten is coming out tail first, this is quite normal and happens about 40% of the time.
The whole process should be over in six to seven hours. If over an hour passes between kittens and you are sure she has more inside then you should ring a vet.