A Guide to Your Queen’s Gestation: How Long are Cats Pregnant For?

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pregnant cat and kitten wrestlingHave you ever wondered, how long are cats pregnant for? The physiology behind a cats pregnancy is nothing but fascinating. So, if your a pet parent who is interested in learning about your cats’ pregnancy, then read on!

How Long are Cats Pregnant For? Cat Gestation Period

Before you answer the question, how long are cats pregnant for? we have to first understand what exactly is a gestation period, and why is it important.

The gestation period is simply a term used to describe the development of kittens within the uterus. During a cats gestation period, kittens will undergo multiple cellular, physiological, and anatomical changes.

At the end of a gestation period—a kitten has fully formed—your cat will begin to go into parturition. Parturition is simply the act of giving birth!

How Long do Cats Stay Pregnant?

A female cat (aka a queen) will reach puberty, between the age of 4 to 6 months. During this time, she can go into heat, and she can thus get pregnant.

How long are cats pregnant for will depend a lot on their breed and individual genetics. In general, most cat breeds will have a gestation period of about 63 to 65 days.

However, certain breeds, like the Siamese cat, can actually have a gestation period for over 67 days.

Female Cat Problems! Do Cats have Periods?

pregnant female cat on cat bed

Did you know a female cat can also get her periods!

Once a female cat has reached puberty she will experience her first estrus cycle—just like human women! The estrus cycle is a period in which a female cat will be receptive to a male.

In other words, it is during this time where she displays unusual behaviors. It is important to remember that an unfixed female cat will bleed a little from her vagina before her estrus.

Now unlike humans, cats don’t actually get their period every month! In fact, they will only go into heat based on the amount of sunlight available.

In veterinarian medicine, this is referred to as seasonally polyestrous. And, it also means that a cat can go into estrus (aka heat) many times in a single breeding season.

The breeding season for cats is based on the number of sunlight hours. For example,  an unfixed female cat will begin to go into heat as the daylight increases.

But, why? And what could this mean for indoor cats?

Within the cats, brain is a pineal gland that is responsible for the secretion of a hormone called melatonin. If a cat has a lot of melatonin in them, then they will not go into heat.

Melatonin is produced mainly at nighttime when your cat is fast asleep. This means that as nights get shorter, your cats’ pineal gland will not produce as much melatonin. And this reduction in melatonin will induce heat in cats.

5 Facts about the Gestation Period for Cats

  1. A pregnant female cat will consume a lot of food. Think about it! She’s feeding for 5 or 6 kittens. On average a pregnant queen will consume 2 to 4 times food during her pregnancy.
  2. Your Queen will need to be on kitten food! Since your queen is eating for many, she will have to remain on a healthy, high-protein diet. Most often this can be accomplished by feed her kitten food throughout her pregnancy. You should continue to feed her kitten food until her kittens have been weaned off.
  3. Kittens from the same litter can have different dads! During mating, sperm from a tomcat can fertilize more than one eggs. This process is known as superfecundation! So, if you’ve got a female who’s been going out on a lot of dates, then when she has a litter of kittens, they can be from two different fathers.
  4. All kittens should come out in a “diving” position! This means that their head and forelimbs will need to come out first.
  5. You can terminate an unwanted pregnancy in cats! Although some vets may have a hard time doing this, sometimes terminating a pregnancy is for the best.

How Long do Cats Stay in Heat?

Understanding how long your cat will be in heat for is difficult. This is because your felines heat cycle will depend greatly on your geographical area.  As a general rule of thumb,  a feline lady-cat can be in heat anywhere from 1 to 7 days. Sometimes it can also be a few weeks!

Now, if you don’t mate your female cat, then she will eventually come out of the heat. And, this will last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.

Finally, indoor cats are a bit unique!

Generally, indoor cats can go into heat multiple times, throughout the year! This is because they are usually in constant exposure to artificial light. So, if you are a night owl who has got the light. turned on for more than 10 to 15 hours, then your cat will go into heat.

Understanding your Cat Pregnancy Timeline

Kittens sleeping on top of a queen's tummy

Towards the end of the third trimester, your queen will begin to go into labor. You’ll know she is going into labor because her behavior will change drastically. Now birthing a litter of kittens can be divided into three distinct stages.

Stage one

During this stage of the birthing process, the queen will begin to appear anxious. She will start to pace back and forth towards a nesting area.

In many cases, this is often a comfortable bed or a dark box.  This stage can last up to  36 hours, and it usually means that she is experiencing mild uterine contractions.

Stage two

When your queen reaches the second stage of birthing, she will begin to experience strong uterine contraction.

During this stage, your female will start to push her kitten out of her vulva. You will start to see fetal membranes and a waterbag. Inside these “waterbags” are will be a little kitten.

When the bag is partly, or almost entirely out. The bag will burst, and this will let the kitten out. Now sometimes the bag may not break, and when the occurs, the queen will bite off and chew the waterbag.

The process of birthing a kitten can last up to 30 minutes per kitten. This would mean that stage 2 can last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on how many kittens your queen has.

Stage three

During the last stage of birthing a kitten, a queen will begin to pass out a dark red sac. Now, this is going to look a little gross! But it’s just the placenta.

Placentae is passed out for each kitten. So, it is essential for owners to keep track of how many placentae have been passed out—you don’t want to miss a kitten!

How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have?

A pregnant queen has the capability of producing anywhere between 1 to 9 kittens per litter. However, if the queen is on the younger side or if it is her first pregnancy, then she will produce a smaller litter. Although 9 kittens seem like a lot, most female cats average at about 4 to 6 kittens per litter.

Got a Pregnant Cat? Here’s How To Tell if a Cat is Pregnant

You will have to visit your veterinarian, for a definitive diagnosis on if your cat is pregnant or not.

A trained veterinarian will palpate your cats’ abdomen to detect a pregnancy. Most often, a veterinarian will be able to identify kittens in a queens abdomen when she is around four weeks pregnant.

During pregnancy, a queen will undergo, physiological and behavioral changes.

In terms of behavior, your queen will become a lot more affectionate towards you. During the later stages of pregnancy, she may become a little more unfriendly. This is because, it is at the end of the third trimester where she will begin to look for a dark, quiet and comfortable spot.

Anatomically, you will notice your cats’ belly increasing in size. As well, her nipples will begin to appear pinker. During the late stages of pregnancy, the queen’s nipples may swell, and droplets of milk may secrete out from them

3 Tips You Need to Know About Preparing for Your Cat Pregnancy

female cat cleaning her newborn kitten

  1. During your queens’ pregnancy, you should create a safe and comfortable space for her. Ideally, you should place a warm bed and towel in a warm and dark area. It is crucial to show your queen this area weeks before pregnancy.
  2. When a kitten is born, warmth is very important! A newborn kitten will have very little body fat, so they can get cold really fast. For the most part, an attentive queen will use her body heat to keep her kittens warm. However, if she does not, then you will need to provide warmth through a hot water bag or a heating pad. The temperature should be no more than the average body temperature of a kitten.
  3. Your queen may not bite through the umbilical cord! Now, sometimes a queen may not bite through the cord. When this happens you’ll need to quietly step in! To sever a cord you will need to tie two loops around the cord with a sewing thread. Once down, simply tear or cut in-between the loops.

Are you still wondering about how long are cats pregnant for? Let us know in the comments below.

Common Questions on How Long are Cats Pregnant for?

Can you terminate a cat’s pregnancy?

How can you tell when your cat’s pregnant?

At what age can a cat get pregnant?

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