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Stages of Cat Pregnancy – Feline Labor and Birth

Stages of Cat Pregnancy – Feline Labor and Birth

This article is designed to help you comprehend different stages of feline labor.

If you own a cat, it’s quite important that you’re aware of the various stages of pregnancy in order to avoid potential complications along the way.

Even though there are many cat breeds around, a vast majority of them share the same behavior when it comes to maintaining pregnancy.

However, some things such as litter size and fertility aren’t the same in all breeds.

Take a moment and check this article out, you’ll find a lot of useful information on how to react and behave in certain situations throughout your pet’s pregnancy.

It’s of utmost importance that you take care of your cat properly because the wrong approach can lead to severe consequences both for the cat and its litter.

Cat Pregnancy Calendar


The typical feline pregnancy is 63 to 65 days long. In other words, it lasts for roughly two months, give or take a few days.

During gestation, you’ll notice a few changes both in behavior and physique of your pet. It’s important that you take a few necessary steps in order to decrease the risk of something going wrong.

Below are the stages you should pay attention to, and some things you can expect along the way.

The Beginning of the Process

Cats have a special condition called heat which is a period of approximately four to ten days during which they seek for a male to mate with. Needless to say, they won’t be interested in mating during other days.

Therefore, you have to utilize the small gap of a couple of days in order to achieve the optimal results and increase the chances of pregnancy.

cat pregnancy timeline infographic

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Weeks 0-2

The first two weeks are more or less irrelevant because there aren’t any good ways of knowing whether the mating worked.

The fertilized egg is usually still under the process of attaching to the uterine wall in the first two weeks.

In fact, your cat won’t be aware of its pregnancy until week three or four.

What should I do during weeks 0-2?


The best thing you can do is sit and wait for the first symptoms to appear.

As we already said, there aren’t many gestation indicators in the beginning.

Weeks 3-4

If everything goes well during the first two weeks, the embryo will start developing organs after 22-24 days which will then trigger some symptoms.

The first and probably the most obvious one are pink nipples. If you notice a peculiar color change of the cat’s nipples (they tend to become very pink), it’s a good indicator of pregnancy.

You may also notice a change in your pet’s sleeping schedule. However, because cats tend to sleep a lot, it may not be the perfect method.

The thing that makes people panic for a bit is food aversion. Don’t worry; it’s nothing unusual. In fact, food rejection is a perfectly normal behavior for pregnant cats.

Bear in mind; it’s a symptom instead of being a problem.

What should I do during weeks 3-4?


One of the things you should do during this period is – visit the veterinarian. A professional will be able to determine whether the pregnancy is going well via ultrasound.

Apart from that, a veterinarian can also detect fetal heart beats and evaluate your pet’s overall health condition.

Apart from visiting an expert, make sure you set up a cozy and peaceful environment for your pet.

Stress levels are crucial and can jeopardize the pregnancy in any moment.

Week 5

During week 5, an experienced veterinarian should be able to feel the kittens through the stomach wall.

In some cases, it’s even possible to estimate the number of kittens your pet is about to deliver.

Is there anything I can do during week 5?


There’s not much you can do in order to make things better.

Make sure your furry friend is feeling comfortable and is used to its environment.

Another visit to a vet might be a good idea.

Weeks 6-7

Things will start drastically changing by the sixth week.

The most obvious change you’ll see is the anxiety of your pet.

Furthermore, you can expect an increase in appetite because the cat will start stacking food for the upcoming days.

You should be able to feel the kittens by now and even determine the exact number of them.

What should I do during weeks 6-7?


Whatever you do – don’t panic.

Your pet might get quite restless as the time goes by and it will be “on edge” for a while until it gets into the final stage.

Make sure it has enough food and water, a comfortable shelter, and a calm environment.

Don’t try to help in any way because you might cause more harm than good.

If you notice something out of the ordinary, make sure to call a veterinarian instead of handling the situation yourself.

When it comes to behavior changes, they are almost unpredictable in this period of gestation. Luckily, most of those peculiar changes are perfectly natural and expected meaning there’s no reason to panic.

image of cat nesting

Weeks 8-10

Nature’s ways become quite apparent in the last two weeks of pregnancy.

The feline’s nipples will become swollen, hard, and prominent.

The thing that makes people worried is the sudden loss of fur. There is no reason to be alarmed about it because it’s often a natural side-effect of feline pregnancy.

The kittens inside are quite large by this point and they usually press against the stomach causing it to shrink. Therefore, a loss of appetite is to be expected.

What should I do during weeks 8-9?


Felines tend to start nesting 12 to 14 hours before labor.

Nesting is a natural reaction during which cats seek for cozy and safe places to deliver kittens. The important thing here is to let your pet do its thing and find the optimal nesting space by itself.

Many people get excited and try to help their pet by setting up cozy corners around, but it’s not necessary.

Cat in Labor


The first sign of labor is the loss of the mucus plug. It usually looks like a yellow or red discharge.

An average feline will normally deliver a kitten every 30-60 minutes until the labor process is finished.

In some rare cases, cats can deliver their last kitten 12-24 hours after the rest of the litter. Sadly, those kittens usually have issues, anomalies, and are susceptible to retardation.

What do I do when it begins?

The best thing you can do is stay out of the way and supervise the process. Everything you could do to help in the process has already been done up to this moment. You could hire a veterinarian to supervise the birth process if you own an expensive cat breed, but it’s usually not needed. Nature does its job quite well, as usual.

A vast majority of pets will eat the placenta. While it may gross some people out, it’s a normal behavior pattern. In fact, some cats will eat their still-born kittens due to an unpleasant environment, if they feel like it. There’s not much you can do about it, but make sure the cat is feeling comfortable, and you’ll drastically decrease the chances of it eating its newborn babies.

Post-labor


The cat won’t leave its litter for at least 24-48 hours after delivering. The kittens will eat three times every hour. As you can tell, it’s a lot of activity for an exhausted cat. Therefore, the things you can do is keep the food at a satisfactory level, make sure the cat is hydrated and set up a comfortable environment. Nature should take care of everything else.

List of potential issues

There are some things you should pay attention to during and after your cat’s pregnancy in order to prevent bad things from happening.

Take a moment, check this list out, and contact the veterinarian as soon as you notice something similar to these symptoms:

  • The pregnancy lasts for more than 66 days
  • Extreme food aversion (cat refuses to eat anything for days)
  • The mother’s temperature is below 100F for more than a day
  • Continuous contractions without kittens coming out
  • Lodged kittens must be dislodged by hand
  • Strong vaginal odors
  • Hard and painful nipples may be an issue
  • Week and lethargic kittens require a professional intervention
  • The mother’s temperature is over 102.5F for more than two days after labor
image of a kitten sleeping

Tips for Alleviating Cat Stress


If you’re a proud cat owner, you probably have a few tricks up your sleeve when it comes to stress alleviation and making your furry buddy feel good.

However, people who aren’t as experienced usually don’t know how to calm their pets down and take the situation under control.

Check these tips out if you’re one of those people, and you’ll find a couple of useful advice:

Don’t change the environment too often

Even though moving a couch from one place to another seems like a pretty irrelevant change to most people, cats can perceive it in hundred different ways.

As a matter of fact, most get upset, terrified, and uncomfortable as soon as they notice a slight change in the environment.

Naturally, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move anything in your home, but try to avoid disrupting the pet’s personal space as in moving its bed, toys, food, and other.

Luckily, it’s quite easy to notice that something is wrong by analyzing the sudden changes in their behavior. You can rest assured that it will show you its discontent, and no predicament will go unnoticed.

Create a stress-free zone

Cats like calm and comfy places, especially the ones that are frequently inside the house. Therefore, make sure you pay attention to the quality of its bed, toys, food, and other daily necessities.

Furthermore, if you can’t seem to calm your cat down, try doing it with pheromone products. It may not be effective with all cats, but it’s definitely a universal instrument for alleviating stress in most pets.

Don’t disrupt its habits

Domestic animals are creatures of habit and are quite predictable. Changing any element of their routine may cause some behavior and mood issues.

If you’re struggling to establish a routine, try doing it with regular feeding at the same time every day. Establishing a feeding routine is one of the easiest to do and a great way of bonding with your pet.

While it’s only a first step in the whole process, it’s quite an important one. Nothing gains an animal’s trust more than a bowl of food.

Cats sleep a lot!

However, many people decide to wake them up in order to play or cuddle. It’s not a forbidden thing to do per se, but it’s not recommended.

Unlike dogs, cats appreciate privacy and don’t like being woken up in the middle of their sleeping routine.

The Conclusion


This article is designed to offer as much insight about feline labor as possible so that you can avoid all the potential errors that people make during their pet’s gestation. It’s quite important that you get informed and comprehend the labor timeline fully because you’ll be able to react properly in certain situations.

We have included some useful tips that you can refer to in order to create an optimal environment for the upcoming event. You don’t have to follow our advice blindly, but there is some life-saving info inside the article that you should check out and remember.

Needless to say, it’s always a good idea to visit a veterinarian and get a professional opinion on the matter. Early stages of pregnancy are as important as the later ones; therefore, make sure to visit a professional early on.

A lot of people neglect their pet’s condition until it is too late which then results in losing both their faithful companion and its litter.

It’s on you to set up a cozy and comfortable environment, and let nature do its thing.

It’s okay to lend a hand if something goes wrong, but try to keep your distance because even the slightest indication of stress and danger can cause severe consequences both for the pet and litter.

About The Author

Tracy Moser

I am a passionate pet owner. Cats are my favorites and my cat Jasper gives me inspiration to write great articles.

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