Cats, like other mammals, give birth to young ones. The time from when a female gets pregnant to the time when kittens are born is the known as the gestation period. It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that proper care and attention is given during this period so that the cat gives birth to healthy kittens.
Average Gestation Period
The gestation period is generally about 60 to 69 days. The average gestation period can be assumed to be 63 days (9 weeks). It makes it easier for people to remember, as it can be related to the normal human gestation period of 9 months. There are various changes in the appearance and behavior of the female cat once she gets pregnant.
Physical Changes in Cats During Gestation Period
Change in Eating Habits
There will be a few changes in the eating habits of the cat after she becomes pregnant. She may feel more hungry than before and will tend to eat more.
Discontinuation of Heat Cycles
One of the first signs of a cat being pregnant is an abrupt ending to the heat cycles, also called the 'mating period' of a female cat.
Changes in the Nipples
Another common sign is a change in the shape and color of the nipples. The nipples of a pregnant cat swell and they start appearing dark-pink in color. This condition is commonly referred to as 'pinking'.
When a cat is about 5 weeks into pregnancy, her abdomen starts bulging. The bulge appears prominent and continues to grow till the kittens are born.
Just like humans, certain cats experience morning sickness, which makes them vomit everyday in the morning. This condition is not something to worry about. However, if the problem persists for a long time, then consult a vet.
Behavioral Changes in Cats During Gestation Period
Increased Warmth and Affection
Cats tend to become a lot more affectionate towards the owner than what they used to be prior to their pregnancy. They try and seek attention in whichever way possible. The owners should oblige willingly so that the cat does not stay upset during her gestation period.
Looking for Private Places
During latter stages of pregnancy, when very few days remain for the kittens to be born, cats start looking for quiet corners or any other private places in and around the house. This activity is referred to as 'nesting'.
There are certain signs when the cat is ready to give birth. She will become uneasy and restless, and is unable to stay in a particular position for long. She will start 'nesting' and might also urinate frequently as the bladder gets pressurized by the enlarged uterus.
When she is ready to give birth, her temperature will fall and she will begin howling. A milk-like secretion coming out of the nipples will indicate that she is ready to deliver.
After delivery, it is advised to take the cat and the kittens to a vet for proper medical checkup. The owner needs to provide her with food rich in minerals and proteins, as she needs to produce enough milk for the young ones.
Make sure that she has enough time with her kittens in a comfortable and safe environment for some days. Consult a vet for any other advice on how to help her recover after delivery.
Few Tips to Help Cats in their Gestation Period
- Keep a regular overall check on the cat's health once she has mated.
- Ensure a balanced diet for her during the gestation period so that she has healthy kittens.
- Consult a vet for a diet plan to maintain her health during the gestation period.
- Build a small 'nesting' place in a safe, cozy, and secluded corner of the house, where she can give birth.
- In case there are any abnormalities apart from the ones mentioned above, consult a vet.