Cat owners looking forward to welcoming a healthy litter of kittens often need information about what to expect and how to care for their pregnant cat for the best results.
Among the top questions that first-time pregnant cat owners ask is how long their cat’s pregnancy will last.
Here, we answer your questions about your pregnant cat’s gestation period and more.
How long does cat pregnancy last?
Cats are pregnant for about two months or an average of 65 days, but birth may occur a litter earlier or later.
How do I know if my cat is pregnant?
Your pet’s pregnancy lasts about 65 days. Experts divide the gestation into three stages (trimesters), lasting about 20 days each.
Untrained caregivers will likely be unable to tell if their cat is pregnant during the first two trimesters. However, the changes during the last trimester are visible even to untrained eyes.
However, if you pay attention, you may notice a change in your cat’s nipples late in the first trimester. The nipples appear pinker and are more prominent.
During her last trimester, her abdomen and mammary glands enlarge, and she spends more time grooming her abdominal and genital regions.
What you need to do before your cat gets pregnant
You need to take your cat to the veterinarian to complete her vaccinations before she gets pregnant.
Your vet may also check for worms, prescribe dewormers, and suggest the best diet and care during pregnancy.
However, if you don’t want your cat to get pregnant, have her spayed before or around 4-5 months.
At what age can my cat get pregnant?
Cats can get pregnant as soon as they experience their first heat cycle. The first heat cycle marks the attainment of sexual maturity (puberty).
The first heat cycle usually occurs when a cat is between 5-10 months old, although some cats may experience it a little earlier or later.
However, it is better not to breed your cat when she first comes into heat. It’s advisable to guard against her getting pregnant too young due to potential adverse health effects.
Getting pregnant too early compromises your pet’s progression to physical and sexual maturity because her body diverts resources from developing her body to nurturing her fetuses.
The best age for your cat to have her first litter is 18-24 months, depending on her breed and condition.
Ensure that she is strong and healthy before you breed her.
Mature female cats ready to breed are known as “queens.”
What is the duration of the heat cycle?
A sexually mature female cat repeats her heat cycle every two-three weeks, but it may last up to six weeks.
During each cycle, she goes through multiple stages: proestrus, estrus (heat stage), diestrus, and anestrus.
The heat stage (estrus) is when she is receptive to mating. It may last seven days or longer (up to 19-21 days).
If she mates, she goes into the diestrus stage. Otherwise, she goes into interestrus in preparation for cycling back to proestrus.
The anestrus state is when she isn’t showing signs of a heat cycle, usually outside the breeding season.
Cats are polyestrous, meaning they have multiple cycles during one breeding season (July to late fall in the Northern Hemisphere).
They can also have more than one litter during a breeding season if the breeder desires it.
However, if your cat lives indoors in a tropical region where she is exposed to longer day length, she may cycle all year round.
She may also experience a heat cycle all year round if she lives in the Northern Hemisphere but is exposed to extended day length due to artificial lighting.
Signs of heat
During heat, you may notice the following behavioral and physical signs in your cat:
- Frequent mewing and purring
- Rubbing herself against you as if in need of attention
- Spraying her urine around
- Increased restless behavior, including rolling, rubbing, grooming, and scratching at furniture, doors, and windows as if looking for a way out of the house
- She spends more time than usual outside if you let her out
- Raises her rear end and moves her tail aside in a position simulating mating
- Change in appetite: She is less interested in her food