How to look after a pregnant kitten—an essential care guide
Many ancient civilisations, including the Egyptians, worshipped cats as a symbol of motherhood because they were seen as divinely fertile creatures, which they are! While healthy adult felines can easily handle a pregnancy, the situation is not exactly ideal for a pregnant kitten.
Most kittens do not reach their adult size until they turn one. With their bones and muscles still developing, their fragile bodies may not be ready to support a litter. In this guide, we will look at:
- Factors affecting sexual maturity in kittens
- Pregnant kitten signs—physical and behavioural changes
- Ideal health status of a queen (to help you determine if your kitten is fit to give birth)
- Nutrition and care required for a kitten during the gestation time
We’ll also introduce you to the most effective cat food products that nurture a pregnant feline.
When can a kitten get pregnant?
Similar to humans, sexual maturity in cats happens during adolescence. The onset of puberty is individual. Unless spayed or neutered, most kittens experience a surge in reproductive hormones between their 3rd and 9th month. Late-maturing breeds, like the Persian, Maine Coon, and Norwegian Forest cat, reach puberty when they’re 12 to 18 months old. You can recognise adolescent felines by their assertive, hormonal behaviour, such as:
- Excessive meowing and yowling, especially at night
- Increased appetite due to rise in energy levels
- Incessant demands to go outside to explore (and possibly score hot dates)
- Frequent squabbles with other cats or dogs
- Tendency to pee outside the litter box (to scent-mark a territory)
- Aggressive playing (may bite and attack more often)
- Increased drive to hunt for rodents, birds, and insects
Besides age, feline pubescence can also be accelerated by the following environmental factors:
- Exposure to light—The peak feline mating season is characterised by long daylight hours and warm temperatures. If your kitten constantly stays out in the sun, their hormones may be additionally stimulated
- Birth season—Kittens born in spring are naturally exposed to more sunlight early in their life than those born in winter, leading to a speedy puberty
- Company of tomcats and female cats in heat—An unsterilised kitten older than three months can experience an influx of reproductive hormones when they encounter another hormonal cat or kitten of the opposite sex
Raging hormones—don’t leave your unspayed kitten out unsupervised and risk an unwanted, possibly dangerous, pregnancy.
Source: Ayelt van Veen
How to tell if a kitten is pregnant—six common signs
It’s common for unspayed kittens staying alone outdoors for long hours to get pregnant during their first heat cycle. Here are the six most noticeable signs of pregnancy in felines:
Signs of pregnancy
Kittens can gain 1–2 kilos of weight during the gestation period, localised around the abdomen
Pregnancy-related physical and hormonal changes trigger several GI issues in kittens, such as:
Changes in appetite and eating habits
Kittens lose appetite during the first trimester of pregnancy. They tend to reject wet or dry food because of increased stomach sensitivity. By the last trimester, however, most pregnant felines eat voraciously to nurture the growing litter
The most obvious sign of a pregnancy is a kitten’s nipples turning a shade of rosy pink and becoming enlarged
Increase in affection
Pregnant kittens may display more affection by:
Remember that pregnant feral kittens won’t display affectionate behaviour but may become more reclusive
The best way to confirm a kitten pregnancy is via an ultrasound done by a veterinarian.
Found a stray pregnant kitten following you? It’s part of her motherly instincts to seek support for her unborn babies. Reach out to the nearest shelter for help.
Health issues to watch out for when a kitten is pregnant
A pregnancy during early kittenhood is riskier than one during adulthood. Most kittens don’t have the skeletal and muscle strength to carry a litter or endure the labour. Some common health issues during kitten pregnancies include:
- Extreme fatigue—Frail kittens can completely shut down from the growing weight of the litter. The situation is even more precarious if the fathering cat is bigger than the queen. That could make the litter disproportionate to the size of the womb and trigger uterine rupture, which can be fatal
- Miscarriage—Miscarriages in cats are usually caused by bacterial or viral infections worsened by poor immunity. Rush your kitty to the vet immediately if you notice:
- Fever and trembling
- Drooling and panting
- Blackish green discharge from mammary glands
- Uncoordinated or stiff movements
- Depression or restlessness
- Birthing difficulties—A weak pregnant kitten may suffer from dystocia during labour, which is essentially her body failing to push the kittens out because of underdeveloped muscles
It’s prudent to get a pregnant kitten screened by a vet every week. They will assess her health and monitor the growth of the litter. They may even suggest terminating the pregnancy upon noticing life-threatening abnormalities.
Pregnant kitten—gestation period challenges
Raising a kitten who is expecting can be relatively easy if they’re healthy. The gestation period lasts for about 58–67 days. During this time, pay special attention to your kitten’s:
- General comfort
- Grooming and hygiene
- Dietary needs
When you unwittingly sign up to be a feisty teen mom but have no clue how to deal with another firecracker… Can you help, hooman?
Source: Nihal Karkala
Here are some tips to make your kitten comfortable during the gestation period:
- Give her a soft and cosy bed to nest in—place it in a warm (about 22°C) corner of your home
- Let your kitty enjoy solitude during the last two weeks of pregnancy—don’t introduce your pregnant kitten to new humans and pets because socialisation and training may trigger anxiety
- Ensure they have access to a fresh bowl of water all the time to prevent dehydration
- If your kitten seems too stressed, relieve the tension by:
- Using comforting words
- Letting them chew on catnip toys
- Giving them a snuggly plush toy
Grooming and hygiene
In case your kitten is pregnant, your vet may ask you to pause their deworming and vaccination schedule to prevent birth defects in the litter, so you must take extra precautions to keep your kitty free from internal or external infections.
Keep your kitten indoors in a hygienic spot throughout the pregnancy to prevent flea infestation. You can groom her weekly but avoid touching her sensitive belly area. It’s not a good idea to bathe pregnant kittens as that can cause unnecessary stress.
Felines need a high-calorie diet during pregnancy and nursing periods because carrying, giving birth, and feeding kittens are intense physical activities. Keep in mind that they don’t need different food, only a modified feeding plan.
Cats, being carnivores, should get their daily calories from animal protein to produce energy and support the immune system and core body functions. Pregnant kittens need the same high-protein food (more than 50% animal protein) as other cats but served as frequent meals in smaller portions throughout the day because they have less room in their stomach. Besides protein, your kitty’s diet should have a moderate amount of healthy fat (up to 20%) and almost zero carbohydrates.
Pregnant kittens are the healthiest on a regular diet of quality wet food. Choose products with meat as the primary ingredient (chicken, tuna, turkey, and salmon). Lean meat is naturally rich in crucial micronutrients like taurine and iron, which are essential for foetal development. Nondescript ingredients like “pork digest” and “bone meal” are processed meat derivatives with a significantly lower nutritional value than whole meat.
Avoid using dry food as it can cause frequent digestive issues in queens and destabilise their health. Kibbles are over-processed and often contain carbs like corn, rice starch, sweet potatoes, and sugar, which do more harm than good to the nauseous mother.
Pregnancy can make your kitty gag at every meal—help them stabilise their strength and appetite with yummilicious whole-meat dishes from Untamed!
Image (c) Untamed
Kitten having kittens? Stabilise her health with Untamed
Nurture your pregnant kitten with grain-free and protein-rich wet food from Untamed. We use human-grade meat to prepare mouth-watering gravies and jellies, free from dairy, sugar, vegan proteins, and undefined meat derivatives.
Vets have designed Untamed formulas to meet the nutritional requirements of cats at all life stages. Our meals support feline pregnancies because of:
- High protein content—With 60%–63% whole meat, we offer two times more animal protein than regular products. Our food supports embryo development and can keep your expecting kitten full of stamina as she braces for labour
- Hypoallergenic ingredients—Untamed products are free from common allergens like beef, milk, and chemical additives that can cause reactions in cats with food allergies
- Gentle steaming—Stabilising a queen’s gastrointestinal health can be challenging without Untamed. Our meals are a breeze to digest because we gently steam the food to make the meat soft and flaky and preserve heat-sensitive amino acids and vitamins
- Delicious flavours—Queens can be fussy with food because of constant hormonal shifts, but they’re always up for Untamed because we keep the natural aroma and juicy taste of meat
Kitties all over the country are getting hooked on Untamed—all it takes is a sniff!
Image (c) Untamed
Postnatal care is easy with Untamed!
When your queen gives birth, keep her on a high-calorie diet of Untamed meals throughout the nursing period. When they’re about three weeks old, her kittens will start teething and be ready to start on solids. You can slowly introduce Untamed to the kittens during the weaning period to get them accustomed to healthy food.
After the queen stops lactating, reduce her meal portions according to her activity levels. Untamed is suitable for cats of all breeds and ages because we help them:
- Stay lean and fit during adulthood
- Maintain balanced weight and appetite in senior years
- Keep common illnesses (diabetes, bladder stones, etc.) at bay
Benefits of Untamed
Two to three months
Beyond four months
Help mummy kitty and her babies thrive like champs with everyday Untamed delicacies!
Image (c) Untamed
How to get Untamed super quick
Let your kitty go Untamed by sampling our trial pack. Order it online, and it’ll be on your doorstep in a day—here’s how:
- Take our TRY NOW quiz
- Select the products
- Place the order
You’ll receive the goods in 100% recyclable packaging. We run carbon footprint neutral and ethical operations, so our meat and fish come from cruelty-free and sustainable suppliers.
Untamed offers a monthly cat food delivery service to make shopping convenient for you. All you have to do is sign up for Untamed, and your kitty can get tailor-made meals around the same date each month. The shipping is free, and you can modify, postpone, or cancel an order as you wish.