The first harbingers of an impending cat birth give the owner important information. Even with planned mating, the gestation period may vary and your pet may need help. Let's understand in more detail how to determine the gestational age of a cat and what signs indicate that childbirth will begin soon.
Estimated delivery date, how to determine?
The term of gestation of kittens in domestic cats is 61-67 days, normal, pregnancy lasts 63 days. To fully monitor the course of pregnancy and establish the exact date of birth, the owner must know the date of conception.
Note! It is believed that minor miscarriage in cats is safer than preterm delivery.
With planned mating, future parents must be registered in the breed club. After evaluating the pedigree value, the animals receive permission to participate in breeding. Before estrus in a cat, both animals must undergo medical examinations, complete a booster course and receive parasite prophylaxis. The mating is registered at the club, and pregnancy is usually observed by an authorized veterinarian.
Note! Some breeds of cats are allowed before breeding only after specific DNA tests.
For reinsurance, immediately after determining the pregnancy and its term, the cat is recorded for a planned cesarean section with an expectation of a gestation period of 63 days. Naturally, if a cesarean section is not needed, it is not intentionally performed. A pregnant cat must be examined by a veterinarian at least four times.
About a week before the expected date of delivery, the cat undergoes an ultrasound examination or radiography. After the examination, the veterinarian determines the exact number of kittens in the litter. This procedure is necessary, having determined the size of the litter, the owner and veterinarian can be sure that the birth ended after the complete expulsion of the kittens and afterbirths.
Tip: during childbirth, fix on paper the order of birth of the kittens, their gender, weight and afterbirth.
If the date of conception is unknown, to determine the gestational age and estimated date of birth, the owner and veterinarian have to rely on data on the formation of the fetus, behavioral and physiological changes in the cat.
Having discovered that your cat is pregnant, it must be shown to the veterinarian. If the date of conception is not known, the veterinarian will not be able to determine the estimated date of birth. However, the veterinarian can determine the approximate period, and based on these data, a range is established in which the birth will occur.
Before the onset of labor in the cat's body, physiological changes occur. Normally, these changes can be detected even without going to the doctor. The problem is that all cats are individual and some of them have physiological signs of pregnancy appearing very late.
Note! It is extremely important for the owner to know the estimated date of delivery and determine in time if the cat is overshooting the kittens. If measures are not taken to stimulate the birth, kittens are likely to die, and this threatens the life and health of the cat.
Behavioral symptoms always appear, but their intensity may vary. Before giving birth a cat builds a nest. The expectant mother can begin to prepare for childbirth both in two weeks and in a few days. You may notice that the pet inspects secluded places in the home, for example, shelves in closets or the space under the bed.
Most often, a cat chooses a shelter that has a roof. If you suspect that the cat has begun the nesting process, an old sweater or soft towel should be placed in the place chosen by her. If you correctly interpret the behavior of a cat, it will remain in the nest for a long time after its improvement.
Note! After childbirth, the nest must be covered with clean, cotton cuts of fabric (preferably white). Until the kittens eyes open, the litter should be smooth so that babies do not cling to it with claws.
If you suspect that the term of labor is approaching, and the cat does not begin to nest, it may be worth pushing it. The pet nest can be built from a sturdy cardboard box. The top of the box should be covered with a blanket or a thick towel so that it is dark in the shelter. The nest must be located in the farthest room of the house and make sure that the expectant mother is not disturbed.
It was found that the closer the term of birth, the higher the level of hormones in the blood of the expectant mother. A change in the hormonal background provokes the cat to display strong emotions. It’s hard to predict what kind of emotions your cat will show. Some pets become more affectionate. Primitive cats often exhibit very restless behavior.
Note! Even very restless cat behavior does not indicate the onset of labor. The first stage of labor is difficult to determine, because the cat masterfully hides discomfort. You may suspect that the birth process has begun if the cat is constantly in the nest, but does not fall asleep.
In recent weeks, the cat's appetite is greatly increased. It is advisable to transfer the expectant mother to fractional feeding, that is, give food a little, but often. A few days before birth, the cat’s appetite will fade significantly. If the pet refuses food at all, does not sleep, worry and spends most of the time in the nest - this is a clear sign of the imminent onset of childbirth.
Before the start of the first, weak contractions, discharge begins from the cat’s loop. While the pet is feeling fine, she will do her best to stay clean. Licking the genital area eliminates the odor and keeps the coat clean. In addition, the cat licks instinctively, since irritation of the nerve endings of the genitals stimulate the development of labor.
Note! Before the start of strong contractions, the discharge will become more abundant, and the cat will experience pain. At this point, the pet may stop licking the coat. You will notice traces of discharge on the litter and on the coat of the expectant mother.
There are not so many physiological signs of the onset of labor before the onset of severe contractions. The most significant sign is the basic temperature of the cat's body. During pregnancy, the temperature can fluctuate during the day, but the changes in the readings do not exceed 1 degree.
A few days before birth, the cat's body temperature stabilizes and will not change. The pet becomes less active, will sleep longer and eat more often. About a day before the birth, the cat's base body temperature begins to decline. Typically, the indicator drops to 37-37.1 degrees. If you have noticed that your body temperature has decreased, measurements must be stopped.. At this stage, all you can do is calm the cat and calmly wait for the birth process.
Note! The body temperature of a cat is measured rectally, since any other measurement methods give a strong error. A few hours before birth, body temperature will stop falling. From this point on, there is no need to measure temperature.
In many cats, swelling and redness of the nipples are considered a physiological sign of pregnancy. The degree of change depends on the hormonal background. In most young cats whose pregnancy is normal, the first swelling of the nipples can be seen at 2-3 weeks of gestation. A few days before birth, the mammary glands swell more strongly, can become hot and saturated pink.
On the day of childbirth, usually a few hours before the onset of severe contractions, a clear liquid begins to stand out from the mammary glands of the expectant mother. Thus, the body prepares for colostrum. In cats with high hormone levels, even lactation may be observed before delivery.
If you find one or more physiological signs of an early birth, carefully monitor the condition of the cat. The onset of contractions is indicated by increased respiration and palpitations. Many cats, especially those with flat and depressed noses, begin to breathe intensively with their mouths open. Make sure that the pet keeps its head above the bedding (does not stick its nose into the fabric). If possible, ventilate the room in which the nest is located.
Note! Usually on the day of birth when feeling the peritoneum there are no active movements of kittens.
Harbingers of the near birth
The birth of a cat is usually divided into three stages. The onset of the first stage of childbirth is called the harbingers. Normally, before the start of contractions, a mucous plug leaves the birth canal. However, this symptom should not be relied on for several reasons. The mucus plug can be very small and come out during urination. This process will be invisible not only to you, but also to the expectant mother. Moreover, many experienced owners say that they observed rejection of the mucous plug several weeks before delivery.
The first contractions occur with an interval of up to 30-40 minutes. Pain is insignificant, so a cat can behave as usual, except to show more anxiety. As fights intensify, the expectant mother will ignore food and stay close to the nest. Most often, at the stage of the first fights, the cat is active, one might say, they eagerly drink water. You may notice that the cat often enters the tray, but does not empty the bladder and intestines. This behavior is explained by pulling pains in the peritoneum, which are somewhat similar to the urge to urinate and defecate.
The movement of the first kitten to the birth canal can provoke a urge to defecate. Most cats are sent to a tray for relief purposes. If you notice that the cat has already started contractions and she went to the litter box, carefully watch that during the bowel movement the fetal bladder does not appear in the birth canal. If this happens, carefully grab the pet in your arms and transfer it to the nest.
Contractions become apparent after phase 2 of the first stage of labor. The peritoneum is almost always in tension, muscle contraction is visible and well palpable. At this stage, the cat often and shallow breathes, tries to lie on its side and lick. Normally, after the start of strong fights and before the onset of the attempt, no more than an hour will pass.
Important! The first, preparatory stage of labor can last from 10 to 24 hours. Fights are considered the norm, which last no more than 10 hours. If your cat is in labor for more than 12 hours, you should contact your veterinarian, since such births are considered protracted.
At the stage of precursors of childbirth, complications are possible. An inexperienced owner is hard enough to determine that labor is impaired. If you are not confident in your abilities, it is better to invite a veterinarian who will monitor the birth from start to finish.
Serious problems can be indicated by an increase in basic body temperature, constant trembling, pallor of the mucous membranes, and profuse bleeding from the birth canal.