02/28/2018 | Cat life
Winter is almost over and it will soon be mating season in the cat world. When female cats reach puberty, which can occur as early as 4 months right through to 18 months of age, they risk falling pregnant if they are not spayed and happen to encounter a handsome male. The period of gestation (or pregnancy) in cats is relatively short and lasts only 8 to 9 weeks, i.e. roughly 60 days. During this time, the female cat undergoes a series of significant physical and behavioural changes. Here we talk you through the main stages.
Weeks 1 to 4: Subtle changes
During the first few weeks after fertilisation, the embryos of the future kittens are still very small; they measure just a few millimetres and weigh only a few grams. As a result, you may not notice your cat is pregnant during this period. However, there are certain tell-tale signs that you can look out for, such as increased appetite or morning sickness.
Weeks 4 to 8: Major physical changes
Between weeks 4 and 6 of a cat’s pregnancy, the foetuses of the future kittens will start to grow rapidly. This brings about significant physical changes for the mother to be: her back hollows out, her pelvis becomes wider and her abdomen swells. From week 6 onwards, your vet may do an x-ray to see how many kittens your cat is expecting. He/she will be able to advise you on any necessary treatment (for fleas, worms, etc.) to prevent the mother from transmitting any diseases to her litter.
Weeks 8 to 9: Giving birth
Gestation in cats usually lasts between 63 and 67 days, but it can be a few days shorter or longer. To get ready for the big day, at the start of week 8, you can prepare a “nest” in a quiet spot where your cat can take refuge when she is ready to deliver her kittens. A large basket or crate, covered with a towel or removable top, and lined with newspaper and a blanket will do just the trick. When your cat is ready to give birth, there are several noticeable signs: she may start leaking milk, have visible contractions and start to purr loudly. Her body temperature will also start to drop slightly (by around 1°C).