Most cat pregnancies last around 65 days, while Siamese cats may not give birth until 71 days. Any kittens born before 60 days are unlikely to survive.
Cat pregnancy can be quite tricky to detect during the first few weeks. However, if your queen is fertile and has been in the presence of one or more tom cats, it is quite likely she will have conceived (it is actually possible for one queen to birth a litter sired by two separate tom cats).
The first sign of pregnancy is usually some weight gain. An ultrasound scan can confirm pregnancy from as early as 15 days. At around the same stage, you may notice your cat’s nipples becoming larger and darker – this is known as ‘pinking up’.
After three or four weeks, many pregnant cats will begin to experience morning sickness. This is often accompanied by apathetic behaviour and a loss of appetite. This is normal, and shouldn’t last more than a few days.
After five weeks, your queen’s belly and breasts will become increasingly large. A milky fluid may be expressed from your cat’s nipples the closer she gets to birth, and her appetite will begin to increase.
The average female cat can have three litters a year given the right circumstances. Typically, a litter will include four to six kittens.
The age a cat hits puberty varies depending on environment and breed, but most cats first go into heat at around six to nine months. Cat heat cycles are primarily triggered by seasonal increases in daylight levels, with most mating occurring between March and September. During this breeding season, each queen will establish her own heat rhythm. Cats in heat will become more vocal and affectionate, and will often assume the mating position and spray urine more frequently.
Neutering your cat involves removing parts of the reproductive organs. Male cats are neutered through castration, which involves the removal of the testicles. Female cats are spayed, which involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries.
Neutering offers many benefits including the avoidance of unwanted pregnancies and diseases associated with the reproductive organs. Neutering will also help calm your cat by reducing erratic sexual behaviour.