Bridgette is just one of the many pregnant moms we will receive at WCHS this year. We are taking the opportunity to use her and her babies to teach the community all about Kittenhood. Follow our Website’s Blog and Social Media Pages to learn all about kittens from Bridgette’s Beans!
In the spring and summer time (and sometimes year-round) outdoor cats breed like crazy. The average litter size for a cat is between 4-5 kittens, so if you do not bring the parents in and get them spayed and neutered, you can quickly end up with a large cat problem! Normally, cats are pregnant for 60-68 days. There is no pregnancy test for cats, you either “wait and see”, have a vet exam and palpate the abdomen, or have imaging performed (X-rays and/or ultrasound depending on how far along the mother cat is in the pregnancy) to confirm pregnancy. After the halfway point, you can usually begin to see signs of pregnancy – round belly, prominent nipples, and sometimes even movement from the babies. Pregnant cats, also called “queens”, typically show some very specific behaviors right before they are ready to give birth. Milk can be present early in pregnancy, but often comes right before birth. Excessive grooming of the mammary and perineal areas can also mean that your momma cat is getting ready to give birth. Cats will begin to “nest” – bringing comfort items to dark, quiet places in preparation for the coming kittens. Just like people, cats will have contractions during labor – you will be able to see the abdomen contract for most laboring cats. Each kitten will be born with their own placenta. Mom should clean the kittens up between each baby, clearing the sac and any other afterbirth from their bodies to allow them to breathe. If mom is NOT cleaning babies, you must intervene to clean the babies off and stimulate them to take their first breaths. Kittens will generally be born anywhere from 10 to 70 minutes apart. Although rare, some mothers have been known to have kittens even days after the first ones if labor was interrupted. If momma cat is contracting and actively trying to push a kitten out and cannot, this may be an emergency and can require a C-section (read the attached article for more information on what is considered a birthing emergency). Thankfully, most momma cats can deliver successfully on their own without any intervention. Once clean and dry, the babies will start to nurse from mom. If she is still not allowing them to nurse once labor is complete, you may need to jump in to assist them or start bottle feeding the kittens on your own with an appropriate Kitten Milk Replacer.
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