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Reproduction

Breeding

Female cats have heat patterns that last between seven and twenty-one days. If the animal is not impregnated, her heat patterns may become irregular, with periods of non-heat becoming brief, often as short as two days. When experiencing estrus, or heat, a female cat may make loud, howling sounds, and rub themselves along the floor with the tail raised.

Heat cycles are more common between August to March and it is recommended that you take your female cat to your vet prior to breeding for a routine examination. Continued examinations are recommended once during each trimester, “post-queening”, and 2-4 weeks into lactation. Important topics such as body condition score, nutrition, pregnancy detection, fetal health assessment and count, kitten health and well-being, lactation, and recovery can all be addressed during these visits.

Normal Pregnancy

The average gestation time for cats is 56 to 67 days. The due date should be calculated to be between 63 days from the first breeding and 65 days after the last breeding. Pregnancy is divided into trimesters. The majority of maternal weight gain during pregnancy occurs during the second and third trimesters. Nutritional needs increase during the third trimester and continue throughout lactation.

The best way to tell if your cat is pregnant is to take her to your vet. They will check for abdominal palpitation, and the optimal time for pregnancy detection is approximately 19 to 28 days after breeding. During the pregnancy, you can request an ultrasound to check for fetal health, estimating litterside and problems such as fetal death or oversized kittens.

Nutrition

Nutritional requirements of the female increase during gestation and lactation, especially during the third trimester of pregnancy and the first 4 weeks of lactation. Nutritional requirements are greater for females with larger litters. We receommend feeding a high-quality diet during this time. Failure to provide sufficient nutrition can result in small, weak kittens that are prone to disease

Delivery

There are 3 stages of labour:

Stage 1 - First-stage labour is when the cervix dilates and early uterine contractions occur. Signs of first-stage labour include decreased appetite, nesting, seeking seclusion, restlessness, vocalization, and frequent trips to the litter box, Typically this stage lasts for 2-12 hours in most cats, although it may begin as early as 48 hours prior to actually giving birth.

Stage 2 - Second-stage labour consists of the delivery of each kitten with strong contractions of the abdomen and uterus. The first kitten is typically born within 2 hours of the onset of stage two labour, and subsequent kittens are born 10-30 minutes apart thereafter.

Stage 3 - Third-stage labour involves delivering the placenta. Each kitten develops during pregnancy with its own separate placenta. The placenta for each kitten is generally passed within a few minutes of the kitten’s birth. If the placenta is still attached to the kitten, it should immediately follow the kitten; if the placenta and kitten have become separated during the birthing process, the placenta may take longer to pass, or may even be passed following delivery of the next kitten.