Breeding, pregnancy, and birthing in cats may seem simple, but can have complications. Cats can have multiple litters in a year. It is important to know when your cat may be expecting to give birth so that you can be available to provide assistance if necessary. It is important to know what signs indicate that your cat may be experiencing difficulties delivering the kittens and know when veterinary attention is needed.
A caesarean section or C-section is major surgery performed to remove kittens from the uterus. This is most commonly performed as an emergency procedure when there is difficulty with natural birth. Most cats recover quickly from this procedure. Most cats have fully recovered from anesthesia by the time they are discharged to go home.
Cat lovers consider sweet, soulful, kitty eyes gazing at them to be heartwarming. Those feline glances can melt some human hearts. But after the loss of a feline, canine, or human companion, could those mournful eyes indicate that the cat is actually mourning?
The estrous cycle in cats occurs seasonally and is variable with the amount of daylight. Most cats become very affectionate, even demanding when in heat. They persistently rub against their owners (or objects such as furniture) constantly wanting attention and they become very vocal. Tomcats that have never been seen before in your yard or neighborhood will appear and may spray urine on the house to mark the territory or may even attempt to enter the house to mate with the female. To avoid the noise of a heat cycle, unwanted tomcat visitors, and prevent unwanted pregnancies, it is best to have your cat spayed.
The various stages of reproduction—heat (estrus), pregnancy, lactation, and weaning— provide unique stresses to the body. Each creates specific nutritional concerns that should be addressed to maximize both queen and kitten health.
Special attention needs to be given to a cat’s nutrition before and during her pregnancy to promote a healthy birth and healthy kittens. It is important to maintain a good body condition throughout pregnancy as her weight increases. A good quality kitten or all life stages diet is recommended during the entire pregnancy; ideally one evaluated using feeding trials. This diet is usually fed throughout the lactation period, but attention to body condition is essential here as well, and the diet may need to be restricted if there is a small number of kittens or the cat starts becoming overweight. Weaning is usually aided by feeding significantly less food for a few days while restricting access to nursing to decrease milk production.
There are many possible causes of infertility in female cats, including behavioral, physical, and medical factors. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and testing to diagnose the reason for your female cat's infertility, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
There are many possible causes of infertility in male cats, including behavioral, genetic, physical, and medical factors. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and testing to diagnose the reason for your male cat's infertility, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
Miscarriage refers to the death of a fetus during pregnancy. Miscarriages that occur early in pregnancy may be completely asymptomatic, while later-term miscarriages may result in stillborn kittens or mummification. Miscarriage can be caused by infection or hormonal influences. Diagnosis is key to appropriate management. If a cat develops a fever during pregnancy antibiotics may prevent miscarriage.
Full term pregnancy in cats is usually between 63 and 65 days during which time energy requirements increase to 1.5 times normal. Labor takes place in 3 stages: 1) nesting behavior and comfort seeking are seen, and the cat may stop eating within 24 hours of birth; 2) active stage of labor where contractions may be seen, and kittens are produced. Kittens are usually born within 1 hour of each other; however, there is cause for concern if active unproductive straining is seen for more than 20 minutes; and 3) fetal membranes are passed after the delivery of each kitten. If a kitten is not responsive, attempts can be made to suction the back of its mouth to remove as many fluids as possible while vigorously rubbing their body to stimulate respiration and applying gentle puffs of air into its mouth. Kittens need to be kept warm after birth and the mother should be watched carefully for any signs of illness.