A-z - Animals

Feline Pregnancy: How Long is a Cat Pregnant?

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Cats have been domesticated for approximately 10,000 years. But how long is a cat's gestation period? And, how do you tell if your feline friend is pregnant? We'll answer these questions and more here. But first, we'll explore more about cats, both pets and semi-wild carnivores. Most of us have seen or even owned a cat at one point or another. So, it's time for us to learn more about cat gestation!

Let's start with some background information about domestic cats.

cat background

A fluffy cat with amber eyes lies in an open suitcase
Cats belong to the cat family mammals, including tigers, lions, pumas, cheetahs, etc.

© iStock.com/humonia

When you have kittens — literally, it's important to know some basic facts about your cat. For example, did you know that female cats go into heat when they are four months old? By six months of age, kittens are ready to be mothers. Or, as the proverbial she-cat, the Queen. Queens need a lot of love and attention to thrive. But more importantly, they need conscientious, well-educated owners willing to put in the work to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery for the queen.

size and appearance

We all know what a cat looks like, but do you believe that cats were first domesticated thousands of years ago in Western Asia? Domestication made cats smaller and more tolerant of human interaction, but it didn't fundamentally change their form. All cats are born with four legs, a long tail, whiskers, erect ears and sharp teeth. They range in size from 5-25 lbs, depending on the breed.

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Cats may all have the same basic shape, but they vary greatly in appearance due to differences in fur length and color. Some cats have short, patternless coats, while others have long, multi-colored coats. Cats come in a wide range of colors, including white, black, gray, brown, orange, and just about everything in between. Cats are often a shade of one color, a combination of two, and sometimes even a combination of three.

History and Variety

Cute kitten lies on a cat tree indoors
No matter how different they may look, all cats belong to the same species: Felis catus.

©Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock.com

The felines we see today are a direct result of selective breeding for domestication purposes. Cat gestation is likely the same as it was thousands of years ago, although cats may look slightly different then.

Cats have been around for thousands of years. They were especially popular in ancient Greece, Egypt and the Middle East. As pets, they are both rodent companions and rodent controllers. Since the 19th century, cat lovers have selectively bred cats into different breeds. Today, there are more than 50 cat breeds, some of which are highly regarded by cat lovers and celebrities.

behavior and diet

Like their wild ancestors, domestic cats are highly social and playful animals. But, as we all know, not all cats like people, or even other cats. When it comes to feline gestation, female cats typically ovulate every 14-20 days during spring, summer and fall. This gives them a lot of chances to get pregnant. So, if you don't want kittens on your hands, it's best to spay and neuter your cat as soon as it's old enough.

Domestic cats may be pets, but they do not differ in diet from their wild cousins. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need meat, and only meat, to survive. Ideally, cats should be fed a combination of wet food and kibble. Additionally, many cats prefer vegetarian, cooked meats such as chicken. However, tuna and milk are not the best options for fluffy.

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How long are cats usually pregnant?

Cat Kneading Care
Cats usually give birth to a litter during their first pregnancy, which can happen as early as four months of age.

©Rashid Valitov/Shutterstock.com

A normal feline gestation period is between 63-67 days. However, any time between 61-72 days is considered normal. Because cats are so good at having kittens, it's important to have your cat spayed or neutered as soon as possible in old age. The same is true for populations of feral and semi-feral cats. Many rescue groups will actually trap, neuter and re-release these cats to prevent kittens from being overwhelmed.

How many kittens do cats usually have?

Cats have 1-10 kittens per litter. Usually, kittens that become queens for the first time have fewer kittens than subsequent pregnancies. Since cats don't start showing any signs of pregnancy until about a month old, you may not have much time to plan for kittens. When you realize your cat is pregnant, or if you suspect it, your best bet is to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a test to confirm that your cat is indeed pregnant.

How to tell if your cat is pregnant

The characteristics of cat pregnancy are that the abdomen slowly expands, the nipples become bigger and pink, and the female cat is lethargic.

© Dr. Gabriele Uelsberg and Joachim Berger-Uelsberg / Creative Commons

Often, one of the first signs that your cat is pregnant is a lack of heat cycles. In addition, the queen's appetite usually increases, so additional food should be provided. Despite an increased appetite, they may vomit more often, especially in early pregnancy. Queen bees typically need more sleep during pregnancy, and they may start hiding in quiet, dark places. This behavior is called nesting, and it's perfectly normal.

How to Care for a Pregnant Cat

If your queen is in feline gestation, which is pregnancy, there are steps you can take to care for her. First, be sure to have your veterinarian check him out and make sure he's up to date on all his vaccinations. Then, provide her with a quiet, calm environment with plenty of food and a place to sleep. When the time comes to get a kitten, don't be afraid to call your veterinarian with questions.

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about the author

Brandi Allred

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She has degrees in English and Anthropology and writes horror, science fiction and fantasy stories in her spare time.

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