How to care for pregnant cats
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For a cat owner, wondering if your cat is pregnant can be quite worrisome. Luckily, feline pregnancy is not hard to diagnose and is detectable early in the average nine-week gestation period.
Early Signs of Feline Pregnancy
Cat pregnancy symptoms begin to appear about three weeks into a feline pregnancy. Other than the cessation of the heat cycle, the first visible symptom at three weeks will be the "pinking" of the nipples. This physical change will be more readily visible in a cat that is pregnant for the first time.
Other cat pregnancy signs include physical changes and changes in personality. Pregnant cats need more sleep, become more loving, voluntarily stay close to home (if it's an outdoor cat) and have an increased appetite. Around week five in the cat's pregnancy, owners will notice its abdomen swelling considerably. As the feline gets closer to the birth of its litter, she may show signs of nesting – seeking out private, safe places for the soon-to-arrive kittens.
Feline pregnancy can be clinically diagnosed by a veterinarian, but unless an owner has fears something may be wrong, many cat owners prepare alongside their cat without the assistance of a vet.
Special Needs of a Pregnant Cat
The most important need of a pregnant feline is an adequate diet. The cat will require many more calories in its diet in order to have enough energy for the growing fetuses. In addition to the caloric increase, a specific increase in calcium and protein is recommended. The easiest way to obtain these nutrients is to feed the expectant mother kitten food mixed with its regular healthy diet. Keep in mind that the energy needs of a pregnant cat increase in tandem with the size of the growing kittens. Therefore, by the end of pregnancy, it should be consuming somewhere between 25 to 50 percent more than its normal calorie intake.
Other considerations include:
- Keep an outdoor pregnant cat indoors, if possible.
- Do not give medicine to a pregnant cat without veterinarian approval.
- Do not use clumping litter, as cats will sometimes give birth in the litter box. The mother cat may not want to clean the litter off the sac, thus causing the death of the new kitten.
- Have the phone number to an emergency veterinary clinic nearby at all times.
- Learn as much as you can as you await the litter's arrival and contact your veterinarian with questions or concerns.