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For pet parents, anticipating the birth of a new litter of kittens can be very exciting. As your cat’s pregnancy comes to an end, it can also become stressful wondering when the new bundles of joy will arrive.
Many pet parents may wonder how to tell when a cat is ready to give birth. Fortunately, there are signs and symptoms that signal kittens are on their way into the world.
When it comes time to give birth, cat behavior can be similar to humans — both display nesting behavior. When a cat is preparing for her kittens, she will want to find a place that is safe and warm for delivery. Pet parents can help their cat by providing:
A nesting box
Blankets or towels
A warm room away from other pets and children
Keep in mind that kittens cannot control their body temperature for the first few weeks of life. Pet parents should set up their cat’s nesting area in a room that can be kept warm and free of drafts. Feliway spray or a diffuser can help to reduce a mother cat's anxiety in the space and put the newborn kittens at ease.
Towards the end of a cat's pregnancy, the expectant mother may experience a decrease in appetite. This symptom is easy to observe, as the cat will be eating more than usual until the final days of her pregnancy — when she might start feeling anxious and her kittens begin to push against her stomach.
In the final week of a cat’s pregnancy, her mammary glands will grow. Cats usually have four distinct pairs of mammary glands. During the last few days of cat pregnancy, the mammary glands will begin to produce milk.
The cat may secrete milk before her kittens are born. This is no cause for worry, as she’ll typically clean herself — but it is a strong indicator that kittens will soon be on the way.
Typically, a cat’s temperature ranges from 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Around two days before the birth of her kittens, a cat’s temperature will drop to about 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before a cat’s birth, the feline will begin to exhibit noticeable changes in behavior. The cat may start hiding more or spending time in quiet parts of the house. Cats who are particularly close with their pet parent might become more affectionate or clingy in the days leading up to the birth of their kittens.
Other noticeable changes in behavior include:
Licking or cleaning herself excessively
Pacing and restlessness
Chirping, meowing, or howling
When a cat starts becoming vocal and is increasingly restless, chances are that her labor has begun. Help create a safe, warm, and quiet place for the cat to give birth. Make sure to be prepared with:
Comfort items like blankets
Kitten care items, such as bottles
Food for nursing cats
If looking for feline health advice as a cat is about to or in the process of giving birth, connect with Fuzzy's live online veterinary support. Fuzzy Members can use 24/7 access to our team, no matter the hour, to gain valuable cat health advice through the kitten birthing and post-delivery periods.