Terms of pregnancy
Pregnancy is a period from the moment of conception to the birth. It usually lasts for 65 days counting from the first day of covering. Birth of kittens on the 63th or 64th day is normal. The Siamese female cats may bear kittens for 71 days. However, if a female cat gave birth till the 60th day, kittens will hardly survive.
How to define the pregnancy
Nowadays there are no express-methods to diagnose the cats' pregnancy, as there are for people.
The first half of pregnancy is marked by small put of weight. Sometimes a female cat has morning vomiting. Till the 35th day the nipples get rosy and bigger and the belly gets larger. With birth approaching pectoral glands also get larger and one can squeeze milk liquid out of them. But nipples may get larger after the heat that's why this criterion is not a rule.
Female cats have the uterus in the form of letter «Y» consisting of two sections. The fetuses are in each selection. The vet can feel the 20-day pregnancy with his finger. The size of the fetuses is not more than peanut. Till the 35th day the uterus is filled with liquid and palpation is not effective. Approximately on the 49th day one can feel the parts of the body: the body is long, the head is large.
Palpation of the belly needs carefulness and experience. With rough palpation one can confuse the fetuses with the other intra-abdominal forms and injure amniotic fluid and that may cause the miscarriage.
Ultrasound is a safe method of examination unlike radiography and it allows to see the development of fetus during all pregnancy beginning with the 15th day after conception. One can see the fetuses heart beating beginning with the 20th day that means it's alive. One can also see the fetuses skeleton beginning with the 43rd day using an X-ray. X-ray has more information especially when it is necessary to diagnose the true pregnancy, false pregnancy and piometra (feared formation of pus in the uterus). But one shouldn't do X-ray to the cat in the first half of pregnancy.
The pear-shaped belly and obvious moving of fetus especially the last two weeks of pregnancy indicate the late pregnancy symptoms.
Female cats as women may have morning vomiting when they are pregnant. It's natural for the third and fourth week of pregnancy and related to the hormonal changes and also uterus tension. Female cat looks tired, refuses to eat and is sick. It may last for a few days, one cannot even notice it.
Before covering the vet has to check female's state of health to expose the problems with health which may prevent from normal coupling or birth.
The next examination may be in 2 - 3 weeks after the coverage. The vet will instruct you about pregnancy. If necessary he may carry out additional tests. If your pet has intestinal vermin the vet will prescribe the treatment.
Inoculations, most medical and intestinal anti-helminthes medicine are prohibited during pregnancy as well as anti-flea medicine, insecticides, some hormonal medicine and antibiotics. Be careful with anti-tapeworm medicine: it's very toxic! In spite of this, one can use Droncit. Alive viruses-vaccine (for feline panleukopenia and virus diseases) are also prohibited. That's why consult your vet before giving a medicine to pregnant female cat.
A week prior to birth consult your vet again. He will tell everything about normal birth and how to take care of new-born kittens. Find out where can you appeal in case of emergency.
Hygienic care and feeding during pregnancy
Pregnant female cat practically doesn't need any special care as well as limitation to move: the moderate physical load is useful to avoid obesity and it also increases muscular tone. During the last weeks of pregnancy one shouldn't let pregnant female cat to climb up because uterus weight displaces the center of gravity and it is difficult for the cat to keep balance. If your pet likes to climb up, jump down, play with kids, other animals you have to guard it from that.
Feed your pet with feed for kittens during the first four weeks of pregnancy. It suits pregnant and lactation cats because it contains lots of albumen, calcium and other necessary nutritive including taurine. Do not feed your pet with food from your table, sweets and cat-delicacies, otherwise your pet will eat less feed and receive less necessary nutritive. It also doesn't need vitamin-mineral additions because they can do harm as there are all necessary additions in the feed. The exception is the cause when cat is still weak after the previous birth or exhausted after the disease. In these cases consult your vet.
Beginning with the 4th week of pregnancy give the feed with high content of protein. A necessity in protein increases with the second half of pregnancy that's why multiply its ration on 50%. Avoid redundant weight at any cost. Fat cat, as a rule, bear large kittens and as a result - difficult birth.
One-two weeks prior to the birth there can be lost of appetite. At this time abdominal cavity is full with kittens. One should give feed with small position and more frequent.
Cats must give birth at home where they feel safe and confident. They are nervous seeing strangers and feel uncomfortable in unknown surroundings and it may cause the delay of birth and even stop of birth.
The best place to do it is the box. It must be in a quiet, calm, dark, warm and dry place but not on the passage-way. The box may be made of a cardboard box. The size must allow the cat to move freely into the box. The average size is: 60 cm of length, 50 cm of height and 50 cm wide. The box should be covered with a removable lid to examine the kittens when it is necessary. On one of the walls of the box at the level of breast of the cat cut out the hole for it to enter the box and to go out freely instead of jumping.
One can make a collapsible box for the multiple use. It has preferences of course it's possible to do the shelves inside of it (on every wall) each 5 cm wide and 5 cm above the bottom. It may protect the kittens from the casual pressing down by mother-cat because they instinctively crawl under the shelf.
One should put a few layers of clean newspaper on the bottom for moisture and smell absorption. Besides, it will allow mother-cat "to dig" making a nest - its natural instinct. Little kittens cannot be put on large, easily crumpled pieces of cloth because they can bury themselves into it and suffocate. Especially it applies to the rug made of straw, besides, straw dust may cause aspiration of air-ways.
The room should be calm, dry, well-ventilated and warm. Cold and dampness are the main reasons of kittens' death. During the first week the temperature in their nest should be 29 °С, then it is lowered on 3 °С every week till it is 21 °С. Check the temperature in the nest regularly using the thermometer on the bottom of the box. If the temperature in the room where the cat gives birth cannot be regulated by the system (by thermoregulator or by air-conditioning) one should heat the room with the help of infra red lamps (250 Watt) handing above the box or set into reflectors. There must a place inside the box where it is not very warm for the cat to be there in case it is hot.
Another additional facilities: a small box with a hot-water bottle or electric hot-water bottle on the bottom of the box (for new-born kittens till mother-cat gives birth to all kittens), sterile gloves, eye pipette or syringe with a bulb for sucking the mucus of kitten's mouth, arterial clamp for pressing the umbilical cord, teeth gloss or a thread (cotton or silk) to tie up the umbilical cord and antiseptic for cauterization of the umbilical cord. Scissors, fresh towels, a lot of newspapers complete the birth set.