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Health, Disease & Diet Find out the best tips and practices on managing your cat's diet, health care, and issues with diseases from our community of animal lovers

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Old 10-14-2008, 01:46 PM
ashleywong ashleywong is offline
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Smile Care of a pregnant cat

Care of a Pregnant Cat
Lesson 4 Part 1: Care and Feeding

By Franny Syufy, About.com

Whether you've adopted a pregnant stray, or your own cat has become pregnant, you'll want to provide all the things your pregnant cat needs, both for her health and for the health of the unborn kittens.

Veterinary Care
It is essential that a pregnant cat be given an examination by your veterinarian, both to determine her overall health, and, with a pregnant stray cat, for the protection of any other cats in your household, in the event she is carrying serious contagious diseases.

Should she be spayed?
Stray and feral cats often give their last ounces of energy to the developing kittens they bear, because of the lack of proper food, care, and veterinary attention. Whether or not your pregnant cat is a stray, your vet can determine the approximate stage of pregnancy and discuss with you the option of spaying to terminate the pregnancy.

See also the article, Should a Rescued Pregnant Cat be Spayed? for the pros and cons of this important decision.

Vaccinations
Generally, vaccinations are not recommended during pregnancy because of the possible risk of harm to the developing fetuses. You should discuss this aspect with your veterinarian and weigh the risks, especially if there are other cats in the household and the pregnant cat is a stray.

Food for a Pregnant Cat

Feeding Your Own Pregnant Cat
If your cat is already on a diet of quality canned food, it should be safe to continue feeding her the same brand she is accustomed. During the last three to four weeks, she should be switched to kitten food, and continue on that regimen until after the kittens are weaned. In the final week of her pregnancy, try a supplement of KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement,) which is readily available in most pet supply stores and many supermarkets.

Feeding a Pregnant Stray
A pregnant stray may be thin and undernourished. I'd advise immediately feeding her kitten food to build up her strength and stamina, and to help the developing fetuses grow strong and healthy.

Pregnant Cats Need Calcium
Pregnancy (and subsequent nursing) causes a depletion in the amount of calcium in the bloodstream. This condition can result in eclampsia, a life-threatening disease. Although it more often occurs during nursing, it can occur during the last stages of pregnancy. A calcium supplement can help prevent this potential problem, particularly when caring for a pregnant stray cat.

In addition to quality food, make sure that fresh, clean water is available at all times. The best way to provide this essential is with an automatic water fountain.

Routine Care for a Pregnant Cat

Other than kitten food and KMR during the last trimester, for the most part, a pregnant cat needs the same good care you would give any other cat:

A Comfortable Place to Sleep
This can be anywhere from sharing your bed, to a cardboard box lined with a fluffy towel or blanket, to a comfotable commercial bed designed for cats.

A Litter Box and Quality Litter
As your pregnant cat's abdomen begins to enlarge, make sure her litter box is low enough for easier ingress and egress. Keep the box scrupulously clean to avoid possible infections from soiled litter. Refresh your knowledge of litter box cleaning techniques with this article on Litter Box Maintenance.

Scratching Post, Toys, and a Cat Tree
Pregnant cats are just like other cats, in that they need the stretching activities they can get from a nice long scratching session, an interactive play session (take care not to tire her), and a nice spot from which to relax and view the world below.

Keep Your Pregnant Cat Indoors
This should go without saying, but if your cat became pregnant because of unlimited outdoor privileges, you really should train yourself and her to keep her inside. This is extremely important for her safety and your peace of mind. Read the articles in the Indoors vs Outdoors category for more important information.


When Birthing Time is at Hand

A few days before delivery, your pregnant cat will show signs of "nesting," e.g., searching for a quiet, private place to give birth to her kittens. Cats often choose closets for this purpose, and may be found sleeping on piles of clothes. Help her out by selecting a closet in a guest room, or an unused guest bathroom (easier to clean).

Move an extra litter box, food dish, and water bowl into the area you (and hopefully, your cat) have chosen. Provide a large cardboard box or laundry basket lined with clean towels (make sure it is low enough for her to enter.) She will usually readily move into the box and sleep there, to mark it with her scent for the expected kittens.

Other than keeping an eye out for potential problems, we've covered here all the things you'll need for the care of your pregnant cat.
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