What to expect when momma cat is expecting…
We’re well into June already, which means we are now into kitten season! Most cats will have kittens just fine on their own, and most strays will avoid humans during this time. However, if your cat (or a friendly neighborhood stray) becomes pregnant, here are a few things to expect and potential signs of trouble…
First off, cats do not play by the same rules as, say, small dogs. The only thing that is similar is the gestation length which, for most cat breeds, is 63-66 days. From there, things differ greatly. Cats do not show a lot of early signs of labor. They may vocalize initially, but that is about all. As delivery approaches, many cats will purr.
A female cat is called a queen, and the time between kittens can vary for each queen. The length of time between kittens may be as little as 30 minutes or as great as 24 hours. When delivery has concluded, all kittens may be out in as short as 4 hours, but it can take up to 24 or even 48 hours!
So, how do you tell if a queen is between kittens, done having kittens, or even in trouble? Typically, if she is calm, cleaning the kittens and not straining, then things are fine. However, if she pacing around, straining with no kitten produced or partially produced, and vocalizing, there is likely a problem. All queens should be checked out immediately, if there are any signs of distress. Momma cat should also be checked after all of the kittens are born in order to make sure momma and babies are completely healthy.
After her kittens are born, momma cat should be fed kitten food until the kittens are weaned. Be sure to keep her inside and away from intact male cats until she can be spayed (after the kittens are weaned), as she can become pregnant again. Kittens should be weighed daily on a gram scale. Normal kittens gain 5-7 grams per day after the first 24 hours. If they aren’t gaining weight, they should be supplemented with kitten milk replacer (KMR brand) via tube or bottle feeding. Kittens’ eyes will open around 2 weeks old, and they will start to move around fairly well at about 4 weeks old. Soft solid food and a small, shallow litter box (such as a small Tupperware container) can be introduced at this time. They should wean onto solid food by 6 – 8 weeks.
We hope that you’ve found this guide to be helpful, and if you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at 406-728-0022. We’ll be glad to help in any way we can! We hope you and your feline friend have a fun and safe summer!