How Long is a Cat Pregnant and what are the symptoms?
Nothing can make both you and your cat happy than brand new kittens. Unlike humans, when it comes to cat pregnancy, it does not take much time for those new kittens to take birth even though you may take some weeks to confirm that your adorable pet is expecting. So, how long is a cat pregnant? How to take care during those days? Here is a brief guide to it.
The Duration of Gestation for Cats
The period of gestation for cats is referred to as the number of days between a productive mating (copulation) and the birth of fully developed kittens. To tell how long is a cat pregnant is hard. In a successful or productive mating, ovulation of eggs occurs from the ovaries of female cat followed by their fertilization through the male sperm inside the uterine tract’s oviducts. Since this day, the gestation period on an average usually lasts for 61 to 69 days long, although the period can be as short as 57 days and as long as 71 days.
A majority of female cats are able to conceive once they are of four years and that they can have almost three litters in a year. For being pregnant, the cat first comes into season (heat) that occurs frequently at the time of mating season. So, how long does a female cat stay in heat? Well, it is around up to 10 days after which it can carry with the first mating. Let us understand this concept first.
The Duration for Staying in Heat
Also known as being in season, being in heat refers to the heating or oestrus cycle of the cat that is yet to be spayed cat. It marks the fertile function of their cycle along with time during which can conceive. Being in heat triggers a few personality changes and dramatic behaviors that motivate the cat to mate.
For the first time, coming into heat signifies the onset of sexual maturity. This occurs usually between the age of 6 and 12 months, although it can occur even at four months in case of Burmese and Siamese breeds. However, the cat should not be allowed to reproduce until they are at least 12 months old.
Because female cats are fertile, they come into heat after every three weeks and may conceive during that period. Once in heat, the fertile function can last for 5 to 10 days. This heat cycle continues regularly, until ovulation or spay.
The regular heat cycle has three stages namely, proestrus, estrus, and interestrus. Proestrus lasts for one to two days during which the body gets ready to come in heat. During estrus lasting for 4 to 10 days, the cat is able to mate and conceive. This is exactly when the pet is in heat. Lastly, in interestrus, the pet is not in heat and the body rests for the next cycle. This time lasts for 14 days during which the cat cannot conceive.
If mating does not happen, she enters into the oestrus stage quite often at every two to three weeks. This occurs for several months every year, until she ovulates or is spayed.
However, for preventing unplanned pregnancies, you can consider early spaying and neutering your pet in a clinic. After all, the heating cycle is not very comfortable for her to spend. If pregnant, your adorable pet tends to carry a developing fetus for only 62 to 67 days, which is around nine weeks unlike nine months of human female pregnancy. Let us now explore the stages of cat pregnancy so that you know what to expect when your cat is expecting.
Signs and Symptoms of Feline Pregnancy
You need to look for the common signs to confirm that your cat is carrying. It can be somewhat tough to determine this fact during the initial few weeks. Still, the most common sign to look for is a bit of weight gain. If a sudden weight gain is felt, your veterinarian can confirm pregnancy through an ultrasound method within the first 15 days since conception.
Just like humans, a few cats may also experience morning sickness, which is usually during the third or fourth week. Due to the sick feeling, she might not eat properly during this time. Morning sickness typically remains for a day or two due to which it might go unobserved.
Obvious signs become visible after a month since conception. During the gestation for cats , you will notice the expended belly and pink/enlarged nipples. During the last stages, you can literally notice the pear shape of her body as well as feel or see the movements in her fetus. As the pregnancy advances, she might even show the nesting behavior by getting into a closet or any other secluded place to deliver the kittens.
During the Early Stages
The early time starts from the day of conception. Since that day to day 12, the cat passes though the stage of pre-implantation to fertilization. During this time, you will not be able to confirm accurately that your pet is carrying. This is because this time marks implantation of cells in the uterine wall along with the splitting of cell clusters to form the placenta and a kitten.
To ignite a doubt in you as to whether the cat is pregnant or not, she may show some symptoms of morning sickness. During the early few weeks, there are no obvious signs of pregnancy. During the third week, the signs may start to get more obvious, which are:
- Nipples appearing pinker or rosier
- Increase in appetite as well as water intake, as she has a small kitten inside her
- Occasional vomiting similar to a woman in her early pregnancy time
- More affectionate and looks for more attention
From day 12 to day 24, it marks the most crucial period called embryogenesis. This is when the nervous system, heart, and spine start to develop. It is also when the respiratory system, liver, digestive track, and blood vessels start to form.
In terms of size, the kitten now moves from 1/8th inch to 5/8th of one inch. After this third week, you can take your pet to a vet who examines her stomach to sense the embryos and determine the number of kittens inside (you should not try as this can lead to miscarriage).
Later in the Pregnancy
After day 24, the fetal grows in its true sense due to which it is known as the fetal growth period. The organs grow quickly, hormonal glands start functioning, nerves take up their matured form, and the kittens grow bigger. While the eyes of kittens take almost up to 5 to 6 weeks for development after birth, the brain’s nerve cells continue to develop for next few months. During the later stage of pregnancy, your cat is likely to show the following symptoms or signs:
- More weight gain almost by two or three pounds until delivery, which is noticeable within four to five weeks after conception
- Enlarged mammary glands prepared to give milk, by the last pregnancy week
- Nesting – finding an isolated area or a safe place to deliver kittens
To support her nesting behavior, consider giving a nesting box to her so that she feels safe and cozy, and prepares for the big day easily. Instead of buying one, you can even prepare one on your own. Just take a big cardboard box and cut a hole in a side, for entryway. Now, put in something such as towel upon which your cat loves to sit on. Doing so makes the box more cozy and comfortable. Just ensure that this box is in a quiet and not too bright area. Your cat shall usually take a week or two to adapt to the box.
Toward the Birth
When the birth time is quite nearby, the female cat may meow too often, get restless, decline to eat, and spend more hours in her nesting box. When the labor starts, she may vomit or even yowl. You may even see that she is hiding quite often. This is because birth time is vulnerable due to which she impulsively hides for protection.
For you who will look after the delivery, the good news is that the process of delivery is quite quicker than the human females. The final kitten is out within six hours since the labor started. If kittens are fewer, it may not even need six hours for delivery.
Most times, she herself will tackle labor and birth of her young one. You just need to be watchful so that you can aid her in case she struggles while delivering a kitten but you should not yourself get close or involved. If you find that she cannot push the little one out even after trying since an hour, it is time to let the vet handle the situation this is why you should know how long is a cat pregnant. To fix this problem, a C-section might be required, which your vet shall perform. However, the chances of C-section are usually least.
On an average, the female cat gives birth to four to six kittens. However, it can as less as one or as more as eight kittens. Whenever in complication or concern, it is best to consult your vet.