Pregnancy In Cats

Before Breeding

Before attempting to breed from your pet, there are a number of points which we recommend you consider.

  • Can you afford the extra costs involved in maintaining a healthy pregnancy?
  • Should complications arise during delivery, could you afford an emergency caesarean section? Do you have the knowledge or experience required to recognise when complications are occurring?
  • Can you afford the initial vaccinations, flea and worm treatments that the new arrivals will require?
  • Do you have responsible owners who will purchase or rehome the kittens?        
  • Are you aware that after the costs involved with responsible breeding, there is very little profit to be made with the sale of kittens?
  • Is your queen in good health? Does she have any congenital defects? eg. a heart condition
  • Is your queen fully vaccinated and up to date with worm and flea treatments?
  • Can you afford the conditions that may arise from an entire queen? For example a pyometra (infection of the uterus) is potentially fatal if not treated. If presented with a pyometra your pet will generally require an emergency hysterectomy.

If you feel that the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions then please reconsider breeding from your pet.

Feline Reproduction

Female cats are ‘polyestrous’ which means that they will come into season periodically throughout the year until they are mated or neutered. Queens in season will be very vocal and they are likely to appear very friendly, overly rubbing around objects and rolling on the floor. As cats are generally allowed to roam freely a queen will very easily attract a ‘tom cat’ and will quickly become pregnant if not kept indoors away from unneutered male cats.

Pregnancy

Feline pregnancy can last for approximately 64 to 65 days but timings may be varied as much as 56 to 72 days depending at what stage of your queen’s cycle she was mated.

Signs to look for are:

  • Weight gain
  • Lack of appetite and vulval discharge (common in the first month)
  • Enlargement and reddening of the mammary glands (usually from around day 40)
  • On some occasions there is milk production (from day 40)

Care of the queen during pregnancy

The queen’s food intake will need to be increased from around day 30, not before as this will only cause unnecessary weight gain. She will need to be fed little and often due to the reduction in the queen’s stomach capacity by the pressure of her uterus. A good quality kitten diet will provide the extra calories she requires. At Cinque Ports Vets we recommend feeding the Royal Canin Nutrition range.

You do not need to supplement Vitamin D or Calcium as long as you provide a good quality diet.

Roundworms are transmitted from the mother to her kittens via her milk, therefore it is important to worm your cat to prevent infection of the kittens. The kittens should be wormed from 2 weeks of age and it is important to make sure the mother is wormed at the same time as the kittens until they are weaned.

Prepare a quiet, warm, clean and dry area for the queen to give birth

Signs of impending labour

  • The rectal temperature of the queen will drop from around 39°C to 37°C. It is good practice to keep a record of her temperature daily in the last week of pregnancy.
  • The queen will show signs of restlessness and nest making
  • There will be an increase in the discharge from her vulva
  • She will have a lack of appetite and may vomit, pant and shiver
  • As contractions begin fluid will leak from the vulva (waters breaking)

It can be as little as 10 to 30 minutes from the onset of contractions to birth. Once a kitten has been born the queen will begin to lick and remove the membrane surrounding it. Sometimes with first time mums encouragement may be required. Using a soft clean towel to rub the kittens often helps. The queen should also sever the umbilical cord. If this does not occur you will need to cut it with a clean pair of scissors around an inch from the kittens’ abdomen. Neonates cannot regulate their own temperature so you will need to ensure that mum and kittens are in a warm environment at all times.

After all the kittens are delivered it is normal for a greenish discharge to be present. This should decline after a week.

If you see any of the following things or you are at all concerned you should contact your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets.

  • If the queen’s rectal temperature has declined over 48 hours but with no signs of labour
  • If the pregnancy is lasting longer than 68 days from mating
  • If the queen is straining infrequently and then ceases
  • If there has been more than 45 minutes of contractions but no foetus has been delivered
  • If there is over a 2 hour interval between the delivery of foetuses
  • If a foetus presents with its rear from the vulva but with no hind limbs showing
  • If there is a black/green discharge before labour begins

Care of the queen and her kittens

After giving birth the queen can be offered a light meal, though she may have eaten the placentas and may have slight gastric discomfort. She will spend the next 2 weeks caring for her kittens constantly. From 3 weeks onwards the kittens will start to wander around and leave their mum for short periods of time to investigate and explore their surroundings.

Click on the video below to find out more about feeding your kitten.

Neutering Your Female Cat -Spay

What is spaying?

This operation involves removal of the entire uterus (womb) and ovaries via an incision usually made on your cat’s left flank or midline into their abdomen. Your cat will be admitted as a ‘day patient’ and following a pre-operative check by your veterinary surgeon, she will be given a pre-medication and analgesic (pain killing) injection prior to her general anaesthetic. After surgery and following her recovery from the anaesthetic she will be ready to go home later the same day. You will be given full discharge instructions on how best to care for your cat after surgery and she will be checked by your veterinary nurse 3 days later to ensure the wound is healing. If there are any sutures present these will be removed 10 days later. While the operation is more complicated than castration, it is still a routine procedure and their recovery is usually fairly quick.

What are the advantages of spaying?

Spaying has a number of advantages especially if performed between 4-6 months of age.

Unwanted kittens-Most obviously spaying prevents unwanted litters. There are thousands of unwanted kittens and cats that need homes due to irresponsible owners who do not neuter their cats.

Behavioural-Cats are ‘spontaneous ovulators’ which means your cat will only ovulate (release her eggs) if she is mated. If she comes into season and is not mated she will come back into season every couple of weeks until she is. Due to physiological and behavioural patterns she will try to seek out male cats and may attempt to escape from the house in an attempt to do this. She will also attract male cats into the area. During her season she will be ‘calling’ and displaying unsociable behaviour which is often loud, persistent crying and rolling around on the floor.

Prevent spread of diseases- Mating and fighting can also spread diseases like FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukaemia Virus) which can be fatal.                                                                                                     

Medical-Spaying prevents the chance of infection of their uterus (pyometra) and greatly reduces the incidence of mammary (breast) cancer.

Are there any disadvantages?

The operation carries a small risk associated with general anaesthesia. Your cat will be assessed prior to surgery to ensure she is fit and well for the procedure, and full instructions will be given when she goes home to minimise the chances of a problem occurring with the wound.

It is a common fallacy that a neutered cat will become fat and lazy. They may have a decreased activity level following neutering, which in turn causes weight gain IF your cat continues to be fed the same amount of food as before they were neutered. Neutered pets can require up to a 30% reduction in their feeding requirements. This is due to no longer utilising energy in to reproduction.This extra energy may then be stored as excess body fat instead.
After your cat is neutered, we recommend moving her onto a neutered cat food. Royal Canin have developed a competitively priced, veterinary exclusive pet food which is high in protein and low in fat to help combat against any weight gain. Your veterinary nurse will be able to advise you on the best feeding regime for your cat.

Royal Canin also have an S/O Index with their food which is an abbreviation for struvite and calcium oxalate crystals. The S/O Index indicates that the food helps provide a urinary environment unfavourable to the development of struvite and calcium oxalate crystals.

These crystals can cause blockages in male cats due to their narrow, long urethra. In females blockages are less of a problem but can still occur.

Click on the video below to find out more about why you should neuter your cat.

Useful links:
www.royalcanin.co.uk