Tips for Unexpected Cat Pregnancies
Did you know that cats can get pregnant from as young as just four months old? This takes a lot of cat owners by surprise and may explain why around 78% of cat pregnancies are unplanned. Most cats are still not neutered by four months, so it’s easy to see how these accidents can occur.
According to the Veterinary Record, 23% of all the female cats in the UK have given birth at least once in their life. 34% of cats are not neutered between the aged of 6-12 months. The research also showed that 26.4% of cats owners believe that cats cannot get pregnant until they reach a year old. 850,000 unplanned kittens are born each year. This puts a huge strain on rehoming and rescue centres that see up to 150,000 cats coming through their doors.
The Warning Signs
If there is a reason why you cannot get your cat neutered at 4 months you will need to be extra careful with your cat to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Cats have ovulation cycles or around three weeks and are most fertile between days 4-7. The number of days and the frequency of ovulation can increase in unneutered cats. Luckily for us, there are some classic signs of being in heat to look out for:
- She starts making a lot more noise, she’s vocal and will call out to let other cats know she’s ready for action!
- She will try very hard to get outside.
- When you stroke her, she will tense her back legs and lift her tail straight up.
Do not let her outside or in contact with any male cats when you notice these signs.
Signs of Pregnancy in Cats
Vets will be able to tell if your cat is pregnant but there are some signs that you can look out for yourself.
1.By 3 to 4 weeks the cat’s nipples will appear bigger, swollen and pink in colour
2.At 4 to 5 weeks her abdominals and stomach will begin to get bigger. She will want calm and seek out stress free environments. You may notice the amount of food she eats changes.
3.During week 7 to 9 she will start nesting and looking for the perfect place to give birth.
4.She will give birth between weeks 9 and 10.
Most cats give birth without any complications. The birth has three defined stages:
1.You’ll notice she becomes very restless, she will scratch her bedding and move around.
2.She will begin to strain and the first kitten usually arrives within 30 minutes. There can be 24 hours between kitten births.
3.Membranes and placenta removal follows the birth immediately. Make sure each placenta is passed for each of the kittens. Your cat will probably eat the placenta. If she hasn’t passed the placentas within 4 to 6 hours you should contact your vet.
4.If you have had to help your cat to give birth you should always contact your vet for advice.
The best way to avoid unplanned pregnancies is by getting your cat neutered by four months old. You can also keep your cats indoors and away from any Tom cats, but this is a lot easier said than done. Come back next week when we’ll look at how to care for your cat and her new kittens when they arrive.