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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My little baby girl is pregnant. I am sure she is in the later stages of pregnancy but cannot be entirely sure, as I dont know when she caught pregnant.

I am happy that she is pregnant and happy to have the kittens too. I just want to know how long before she will give birth. I’ve read the articles on this so I know what to expect.

She is laying on her side a lot, and there is not much hair around her nipples. She is still eating a lot and drinking a lot too. She is asleep more then she is awake. When she is awake I have noticed she spends a lot of time washing her belly and genitals.

She is not nesting as yet. I have made her a kittening box, although she doesn’t go in it. Do you know roughly how long before she gives birth please?

A very pregnant black cat: the nipples are exposed and hair has shed away from the area immediately surrounding the nipple

This cat is very close to delivery: the hair around her nipples is gone and she’s quite big. Photo CC-BY Antífama

~ Lisa

Siouxsie: Given the signs you’re describing, Lisa, I’d say she’s going to give birth in a week or less.

Bella: How do you know? You’ve never had kittens!

Siouxsie: Listen, you! I may never had kittens of my own, but I know cats who have, and so does Mama.

Bella: Am I ever gonna have kittens?

Siouxsie: Maybe if you ever stop being a kitten yourself! Oh yeah, that’s right: you’re spayed. No kittens for you!

Bella: *sniffle* But I want a kitten!

Siouxsie: Well, you can’t have one!

Thomas: Come on now, Siouxsie, be nice. You know we’re all fixed here, and you don’t have to be so cruel to Bella. Don’t tell me you never missed kittens — do I need to remind you about that pink and yellow lion toy you carried around for years and years, that you snuggled with like it was your very own baby …

Siouxsie: My pink lion … oh, my sweet pink lion! *weep, sniffle*

Thomas: There, there. It’s all right. Here, I’ll groom your ears and make it all better.

Siouxsie: Anyway, Lisa, one of the signs of an imminent delivery is that mama cat spends a lot of time cleaning and grooming her abdomen and genitals. Once she gets out of her sleepy mode, you’ll find that she starts acting restless and maybe even a bit grouchy.

Thomas: You’ll know for sure when your cat is in full nesting mode. She’ll start looking around in closets and in dark, secluded areas for a place she can give birth safely.

Bella: Before she starts getting really broody, make sure to set up the kittening box in a warm and quiet place in your home, preferably in a room with a door that closes so she doesn’t get stressed over house guests, children or other pets.

Siouxsie: A cat that gets too stressed will move her litter of kittens to a place that seems safer, but may not be safer at all.

Thomas: If your cat doesn’t want to use the kittening box in the place where you put it, move it until you find a location that’s acceptable to mama. Be sure you have a litter box nearby and that she has a steady supply of fresh water and highly nutritious food.

Bella: And make sure her nesting box is as far from the litter box as possible. Cats are instinctively driven not to deposit their waste anywhere near their nest or their food source.

Siouxsie: Just to reassure you, the vast majority of kitten deliveries are completely normal and have no complications whatsoever.

Thomas: Depending on how young she is, you might need to keep an eye on your cat to ensure that she’s taking proper care of the kittens — letting them eat, keeping them clean and warm, and that the kittens’ behavior is generally content. If the kittens are crying a lot, that’s a sign that something is wrong; generally this would be either that mom can’t produce enough milk to feed them or mom’s not staying with them and they’re getting cold.

 Bella: Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, call your veterinarian. They can either reassure you that all is well or ask you to bring mom and kittens in for a checkup.

Siouxsie: We know you’re glad to have the kittens and that the experience of being a kitten midwife is really amazing (or at least, that’s what Mama tells us), but we would strongly encourage you to have your mom-cat spayed as soon as the kittens are weaned. Female cats can actually go into heat while they’re caring for young kittens, but spaying will harm mom’s ability to produce milk for her kittens, so it’s going to be a bit of a balancing act. Talk to your vet about the timing of her spay.

Thomas: Good luck, Lisa. We hope everything goes swimmingly well with mom-cat’s delivery and that you will have the joy of raising a litter of healthy, sweet kittens.

Bella: Please send or post baby pictures in the comment section!