Everything You Need To Know About Cat Gestation Periods
The gestation period of cats is a crucial element of understanding the reproductive cycle of cats. Gestation typically lasts 60-67 days and can vary from breed to breed, and even from cat to cat. During this time, it’s important for owners to understand their cat’s needs and how best to provide for them. Here we will discuss everything you need to know about cat gestation periods, including what happens during the pregnancy, potential risks, and helpful tips on caring for your cat and her kittens!
Understanding the Feline Gestation Period
Cat pregnancy typically lasts between 63 and 65 days, with litters ranging in size from two up to as many as eight kittens. Kittens grow rapidly over the course of their development, so it’s important for expectant owners to understand how cats’ bodies change during this period.
In the first few weeks of a cat pregnancy, the embryos are still very small and there is not yet any external indication that a cat is pregnant. However, a vet can use ultrasound or palpation to diagnose pregnancy from as early as 15-18 days after breeding.
Weeks three and four of a cat pregnancy involve rapid embryo development, growth of the placenta, and increases in weight and body size. At 25 days gestation, a vet will be able to detect fetuses via ultrasound. During weeks five and six, the fetuses start to put on weight and more defined features such as fur and whiskers become visible. From now, palpation (feeling the abdomen) may also be used to identify pregnancies.
During week seven, the fetuses will be almost fully formed, except for open eyelids, which occur around day 60. The mother cat’s nipples will also be visibly enlarged by this stage. In the final week or two of a cat pregnancy, the kittens are busy gaining fat and becoming better able to regulate their own body temperature until labour begins and the litter is born.
Signs of Labor in Expecting Cats
When an expecting cat is close to entering the labour phase, there are some signs that indicate this transition. This includes behaviour changes such as restlessness and irritability, nesting behaviours, vocalizations, loss of appetite, pacing, panting, and increased vocalizations. These visual cues can help pet owners know when their cat’s labour is approaching.
The most common first sign of labour in cats is restlessness. Cats will often wander around anxiously, unsure of where they want to be before finally settling down in one place for a long period of time. Inactive cats can also become increasingly active towards the end of their pregnancy.
Nesting is another important indicator of impending labour. Cats usually construct their nest with blankets or soft materials in anticipation of the arrival of their kittens. Owners should be encouraged to provide suitable and comfortable places for the cats so that they can feel secure during labour and delivery of their kittens.
It is not unusual for expecting cats to have decreased appetite in the days leading up to labour. In most cases this is normal and the cat will return to her regular eating habits once she has delivered her kittens.
Pacing and panting are two more behaviours which may foreshadow signs of labour. Pacing is the repeated and purposeful movement between points and occurs especially in those cats that are normally inactive. Panting, although rare, might occur due to the pain associated with contractions.
Cats will also become more vocal during labour. This could be anything from a quiet mewling to loud yells. During this time, owners should respect the cat’s needs by avoiding any disruption and allowing her to labor peacefully and quietly.
It is important for owners to look out for these pre-labour signs in cats so that they can ensure their pet is comfortable during this special and highly stressful time.
Caring for a New Litter of Kittens
Caring for a litter of kittens can be an incredibly rewarding experience. A responsible and attentive owner must prepare the home and environment that best suits the needs of the new arrivals. This includes providing a safe, comfortable space in which they will sleep, access to fresh food and water, and plenty of toys and items to keep them occupied while they adjust.
Before bringing the new litter into the home, it is important to have all necessary supplies ready. Setting up a secure box or pen where the kittens can play, rest and eat should be done first. Fill the enclosed space with soft bedding, a litter box, and enough toys to ensure stimulation and comfort. To ensure healthy development, access to fresh kitten-formula wet and dry food along with clean water must also be accessible. Disposable litter boxes may be more sanitary, as kittens can sometimes mistake their own feces for food. Make sure to regulate the temperature in the kittens’ enclosure and keep it away from drafts.
Finally, it is essential to schedule regular vet visits for all of the kittens. Vaccines and deworming treatments should be administered at appropriate intervals until the kittens are old enough to receive all boosters. Best practices such as keeping kittens properly nourished and supervised will give them the best chance at a long, healthy life. Following these steps will ensure that your little family members feel welcome and protected in their new home.