Feline Pregnancy & Birth
Duration of Pregnancy
In the queen, ovulation occurs in response to mating (24 – 48 hours after mating). Due to repeated mating, parturition (labour) can be expected from 63 days after the first mating, to 63 days + 1-2 days after the last mating.
Feline gestation periods of 56 – 71 days have been reported, but the average ranges from 63 – 67 days.
Litter sizes: may vary between 1 and 9 kittens, with an average sized litter being 3 – 6 kittens.
Signs of impending parturition: a decrease in rectal temperature during the preceding 12 hours or in the first stage of labour may be noted.
During the ninth week of pregnancy, the queen may become more anxious and apprehensive. During the last 2 days of pregnancy, she will begin searching for a place in which to deliver her kittens. Some queens will refuse all food from 12 – 24 hours before delivery, whilst others may even feed during parturition.
Equipment you should have to hand:
- Vet telephone number (01376 513247), and suitable transport if necessary
- Hot water bottles
- Suitable nesting box
- Clean rubber gloves
- Ligating material
- Umbilical clamps
- Food and water should be readily available and close to the queen.
Stages of parturition
Parturition is divided into three stages, with the last two stages being repeated for each kitten delivered.
First Stage: 6 – 12 hours (may last up to 36 hours)
- Rectal temperature remains low
- Vaginal relaxation and cervical dilation occurs
- Intermittent uterine contractions, increasing in intensity and frequency towards the end of this stage – no signs of abdominal straining
- Queen appears uncomfortable, restless, panting and shivering. Occasionally vomiting may occur.