Cats and Pregnancy
City Kitty answers: Errr ... this is one of those times I'm glad to be a guy! I wouldn't want to be tied down having kittens 3 times a year. Yep, the average cat has 2 to 3 litters a year, with anywhere from 1 to 8 kittens per litter, with the average being between 2 to 5 kittens.
Here's some interesting facts you may not know about cats and kittens:
- In 1952, a Texas tabby named Dusty set the record of giving birth to 420 kittens with her last litter at age 18.
- The largest known litter with all kittens surviving was birthed by a Persian in South Africa named Bluebell. She had 14 kittens in one litter.
- A single pair of cats and their kittens can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just 7 years.
- A kitten will typically weigh about 3 ounces at birth.
- The oldest recorded cat to give birth was "Kitty." She had 2 kittens at age 30, and gave birth to a documented 218 kittens during her life.
- Gestation period for a cat can be anywhere from 57 to 69 days, but most give birth at 9 weeks (63 days).
You may wonder, how can I tell if my cat is pregnant? Well, if you see some of these signs, you'd better get ready for an addition to your family.
- Your cat's nipples will begin to enlarge and become more soft and pink.
- She will begin gaining weight around her middle.
- Many mother cats get more affectionate when they're pregnant.
- Some cats experience morning sickness .... arrrrgh!
Now this is how you know your cat is about to give birth.
- There may be an increase in your cat's appetite.
- She will begin looking for a "nest" in which to have her babies. You can suggest your idea for the purrfect box or corner. But don't be offended if she ignores your hints, and don't try to force the issue.
- There may be decreased activity and playfulness.
- You will probably see milk discharge from her nipples.
- She may seem restless, even "calling" as if in heat.
- She will start licking her private area.
When your cat goes to her nest and you're sure it's finally the moment you've all been waiting for, give her quiet and privacy. Make sure you have food and fresh water nearby, but not too close. Allow her to eat the afterbirth - it contains important nutrients that she needs. The entire process will take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.
ONE more thing - a cat does not "need" to have at least 1 litter to be healthy, and she won't "miss" motherhood if you choose to spay her before her first heat. As a matter of fact, spaying that early has been found to greatly reduce the threat of mammary cancer and uterine disease. Like I said, I'm glad I don't have to worry about all that stuff!