Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I was away for a year and returned to find out that my tenants had been feeding three young cats on my back porch. One is extremely scrawny and tiny–probably weighs 4 pounds–and is extremely pregnant. I got all of them into the house, but am unsure what to do now about this small one. Can this tiny creature survive labour? Should I take her for a C-section? Is it too late or dangerous to have her spayed? I made spay appointments for her and her sister, but have to wait five days. And they are both very far along. I don’t know if I am putting them at greater risk by taking them in for spaying or by allowing them to go into labour. I know the last thing the world needs is more stray kittens. Please–any input would so appreciated.
Thomas: Wow, that poor kitty really is tiny! It just goes to show that cats can get pregnant even as young as four months of age, which is far too young.
Bella: That cat does look like she’s pretty far along. Either that or she’s got lots of kittens in there!
Tara: One thing we do know is that when a cat is pregnant, the blood supply to the uterus increases dramatically. This may cause your vet some concerns about the safety of spaying at this stage.
Thomas: The best person to answer your question about whether it’s safe for this cat to have kittens or be spayed is the veterinarian. If I were you, I’d let the vet know before you get there for the appointment that the cat is pregnant and is pretty far along.
Bella: The vet may be able to determine just how far along she is and will be able to tell you what your options are at that time.
Tara: We fully agree that the world doesn’t need any more stray kittens, but there’s definitely a moral and ethical quandary about spaying a pregnant cat that late.
Thomas: You see, if you spay a cat that far into her pregnancy, you’d essentially be aborting the kittens. The vet may say it’s better, as far as not bringing more unwanted kittens into the world, but Mama says she’d have trouble doing it.
Bella: The vet may actually say it’s safer to let her to have her kittens at this point, precisely because of the issue of increased blood flow to the uterus that Tara mentioned earlier.
Tara: The vet can take an X-ray of mama cat to see how many kittens she has and how big they are. Then he or she will be able to tell you whether mama will need a C-section.
Thomas: If the vet does say it’s better to let this tiny pregnant cat have her kittens, perhaps you could work with a local animal rescue group to foster the cat and her babies.
Bella: Then, once they’re old enough, the rescue group or shelter can find homes for the kittens–and for mama cat, too, if you want.
Tara: Once mama cat goes into labor, if the kittens are too big to get through the birth canal, the vet can deliver the kittens by C-section and then spay her.
Thomas: This article on PetPlace has good information about C-sections in cats, how they’re done, and the safety of the procedure.
Bella: If Mama were in your situation, she’d discuss all the alternatives before making a decision about whether or not to let the pregnant cat carry her kittens to term.
Tara: You can also check out this post we wrote about determining how far along your pregnant cat is.
Thomas: So ultimately, our advice is that you talk to the vet about your options. It’s really important that the vet know the tiny cat and her sister are pregnant before they show up at the clinic for their spays. Pregnancy will make a difference on how the vet approaches the spay–or the not-spay, as the case may be.
Bella: We’d also recommend that you contact rescue groups and shelters in your area and see if they can help you find homes for the cats and kittens once they’re old enough.
Tara: Please let us know how things turn out for you, the pregnant cats, and their kittens.
Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you come across a very small but very pregnant cat? How did you and the vet handle the situation?
Bella: Any advice you can give to add to ours would be greatly appreciated. So please share your thoughts in the comments!