Precautions During Pregnancy

Precautions During Pregnancy
A queen's pregnancy (gestation period) averages 63 days from the time of breeding. If you suspect your kitty is pregnant, please have her completely examined by your vet to determine her overall health status, nutritional status, and to determine at what term of pregnancy she is. Pre-natal care for pregnant felines mainly involves proper nutritional support - feed your expectant kitty a high quality, nutritionally complete kitten food, making sure the diet is properly balanced - no additional supplements are necesssary unless your vet determines the diet is not properly balanced in which case he will recommend to you an acceptable diet.

Your expectant queen will require free feeding or several meals per day, her food consumption may reach twice her normal amount during pregnancy and nursing, so please make sure that food and fresh water are available to her at all times. By the end of the nursing stage, her consumption may even exceed twice her normal amounts before her pregnancy, so do allow her to eat enough to support her own needs as well as those of her kittens. Continue to feed her kitten food during the nursing stage to ensure proper nutritional support.

Your expectant kitty may exhibit behavioral changes during pregnancy and this will be perfectly normal. Some queens may seem overly "attached" to their owners during this stage and may demand more attention, so do make yourself available to her for quality playtime and cuddling. Other queens may seem "stand-offish" or somewhat irritable so making sure her environment is safe, quiet, and harmonious will ensure both her health and emotional state of well-being. If at any time your expectant queen develops unusual or agressive behavior, do not delay in consulting with your vet to make sure she is not developing underlying health problems.

If you're uncertain whether your queen is pregnant, use the following signs as an indicator of her condition.

  • Her nipples should become pink.

  • You may notice a gradual weight gain of about two to four pounds.

  • She has a slightly swollen abdomen.

  • She has begun to exhibit "nesting" behavior.
Check with your veterinarian as soon as possible in this situation in order to better care for your expecting feline.

Preparation For The Kittenbirth

Humans invariably are touched by the onset of maternity, and rarely more so than when the mother-to-be is a nice, neat, delicately bulging cat. They scurry about preparing a bed for the great event: a box, not too high, not too shallow; strips of warm wool bedding; a location convenient, yet private - and a good distance removed from the better pieces of household furniture.

Cats regard this activity with mild interest at best, usually ignore the box when it is presented by the happy people, and generally may be found resting contentedly in it, with eyes half shut, after everyone has trooped off to bed sulking over the ingratitude of cats.

As far as anyone can tell, the cat's use of the box signifies nothing, except that cats like to sit in boxes anyway. When the time is upon her the cat will retire to a place of her own choosing, and the odds are 10 to 1 against its being the box.

What it will be depends on how well several basic conditions are met. The cat will seek darkness, or at least dim light, protective seclusion, warmth and softness. And most of all she must, like all female apartment hunters, feel "this is right for me." She may find these necessities in a closet, a bureau drawer or on your prize couch. (You can control this by closing off areas in which you'd prefer the cat not to have her kittens. But respect her needs, if you can.)

To care for your pregnant cat, provide a well-balanced diet and increase her food intake to account for her growing appetite. Ask your veterinarian for advice on what type of food to feed her. Pregnancy is usually trouble free for most queens. Observe her daily for any signs that seem unusual or indicate that she is sick or listless.

Normal birth of a litter of four kittens usually takes about two hours. If all goes well, the cat is quite capable of managing all the details. The kittens generally are expelled into the world encased in a membrane similar to the human placenta. The kittens may rupture the sac with a reflex action of the legs upon arrival, or the mother cat may open it with her teeth. She also severs the umbilical cord, eats the sac, cleans up the wet, bedraggled little kit and starts it nursing. By the time the fourth baby appears, mother is a busy girl indeed.

As with all births, many variations on the basic pattern are possible, and sometimes there are serious complications. Most cats do very well without human assistance. Others, though not requiring help, seem to like having human friends nearby to give quiet encouragement. Those who run into trouble may need first aid, in which case the humans hovering about had best be prepared to give it.

Regular checkups with your veterinarian help ensure that the queen remains healthy, and that her kittens are born with minimal stress and problems.

Precautions to be taken during pregnancy

The greatest risk to unborn kittens occurs during the first three weeks of development in the womb. Both drugs and infections might seriously impair healthy development. If, for example, the mother is exposed to feline infectious enteritis (FIE, or panleukopenia) at this time, the surviving kittens will be born with severe brain damage. Even exposure to live panleukopenia vaccine is dangerous. Cats should be vaccinated before they are pregnant, to increase the amount of passive protection they pass in the first milk to their kittens.

Never vaccinate pregnant cats to increase the level of inherited protection. Never vaccinate other cats in the household of a pregnant cat. Live vaccine virus can be shed by vaccinated cats and affect the pregnant cat's fetuses.

  • Before breeding cats arrange for a home for the resulting litter.

  • Before breeding make sure that the cat is emotionally and physically mature.

  • Test the cat and the proposed father to ensure that they are not carriers of viral diseases such as FIV or FeLV.

  • Ensure that your cat is well nourished during pregnancy, and lactation period.