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.
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.
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 cat food, it should be safe to continue feeding her the same brand she is accustomed to for awhile. However, during the last three to four weeks, she should be switched to a nutritious canned kitten food, and continue on that regimen until after the kittens are weaned. (The kittens will then be fed the same food as mom.) In the final week of her pregnancy, try a supplement of KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement (Buy at Amazon), 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 a premium 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 comfortable 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.
- 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.
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.