Caring for a pregnant cat is not really that much more difficult than taking care of any cat. As any cat owner knows, cats are very self-sufficient animals, but they will often try to hide it if there is something wrong. If your cat is pregnant or you adopt a pregnant stray cat, make sure you bring it to a vet to get a checkup as soon as possible.
If you have picked up a stray, discuss vaccinations with your vet. It is usually not a good idea to vaccinate a cat while she is pregnant because it might cause harm to the kittens, but if you have other cats in the house it might be necessary to protect them from disease.
Your vet will be able to determine if the pregnancy is progressing well, and estimate what stage of pregnancy the cat is in. This will give you some idea of when you can expect the kittens to arrive. The vet can also help you determine if your cat has any special nutritional needs during pregnancy.
Most healthy cats should just continue eating whatever food you have been feeding them during the pregnancy. In the last month of the pregnancy, you can switch your cat to kitten food. This will help your cat build the strength and stamina for giving birth, and the extra nutrients for producing milk. The mother cat should stay on kitten food until the kittens are weaned.
If you have a stray cat that is undernourished, you can start her on kitten food immediately. Kitten food contains higher fat content, extra protein, vitamins, and minerals. You can also supplement your cat’s food with kitten milk replacement in the final week of pregnancy.
During the last stages of pregnancy and when nursing, there is a depletion in the amount of calcium in a cat’s bloodstream. If the level of calcium is too low this can cause eclampsia, which is a serious, life threatening disease. To prevent this, you can give your cat a calcium supplement. This is most important while nursing, but is also useful in the last week of pregnancy.
A pregnant cat needs all the same things any cat needs: a place to sleep, a clean litter box, and various toys or scratching posts. The important thing to remember is that a pregnant cat is not quite as athletic as other cats. Make sure your cat has no trouble getting into her bed and the litter box. As the cat gets larger and more ungainly she will have more trouble jumping into high places.
Several days before delivering, cats start nesting. They look for a quiet, safe, secluded place to have the kittens. If you notice that your cat does not sleep in her accustomed spot one night, find out where she is. It’s a good idea to know where your cat has chosen to give birth, and make sure the spot is acceptable. Cats often choose a closet or some other small enclosed space. You’ll want to make sure you haven’t left any nice shoes or clothing laying in piles that your cat may decide is the perfect place to give birth, or you’ll have quite a mess to clean up.
You can try to effect where your cat chooses to nest by providing a comfortable ideal spot for her to choose. A bathroom that isn’t frequently used is often an ideal spot, or the closet in a guest room. They are both safe and enclosed for the cat, and a bathroom is easy to clean up for the owner. Line a cardboard box with towels to make an attractive nest. Move a litter box, food, and water into the area you chose. Hopefully, this will be sufficient to entice the cat to do things your way. Make sure everything is clean and ready, and the kittens should arrive before you know it.
by David M Peterson
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