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!
Wow….she is tiny. We hope they get into a vet for their opinion. For now, we suggest getting everyone tested and feeding a good quality food. If she is willing to foster the kittens, there should hopefully be a rescue in her area willing to help her place the kittens.
Last fall a very small and very pregnant cat joined the couple of strays I feed. The usual strays I feed aren’t feral (they do approach me for food, and one of them is very vocal about it) but they won’t let me get too close to them. But this new kitty was so friendly and sweet that at first I thought she must have gotten lost. But I couldn’t find anyone looking for a cat of her description, and she was getting increasingly huge (and spending all her time laying on my windowsill waiting for her next meal and flirting with Vladimir, who appeared to have a huge crush on her.) She wasn’t as small as the kitty in this post, but she wasn’t all that much bigger. Fortunately I found a no-kill shelter who could take her in. (I very badly wanted to adopt her, but with two cats and a dog I couldn’t take on the vet bills for another cat, and Boo is elderly and not likely to have taken well to yet another cat in the house.) The shelter did end up spaying her, and she did well with the surgery. And was adopted in less than a month, which made me so happy.
Don’t know where Kim lives, but if she’s in the Denver area, The Dumb Friends League will take both Mama’s and ensure safe delivery and then foster Mama’s and kittens till the kittens are big enough to be spayed or neutered (2 lbs weight).. Then all will go up for adoption.
Kitten season is just starting here and there are foster parents just waiting for kittens.. (My 3, Darby, Mia and Ian and their 2 sisters Kaitlin and Annie were fostered out with Mama kittly Jubilee when they were only 3 days old.. Darby was so small they didn’t think she would even make it!!! They came home to me when they were 9 weeks old (so bonded I couldn’t split them up)..
If she’s not here, she should check with her local shelters to see what their policies are… Hopefully they’re like the DFL!!
My mother’s cat was born to a mother who was only 3 pounds! There were only 2 cats in the litter, and everyone did fine. My mom’s cat ended up normal size, but his mom remained at 3-4 lbs, as did his brother.
Definitely contact all your local rescue groups to see if they can help you get the kittens adopted, if momma has them. Your vet might also be willing to help you get them adopted–some have a small adoption area in their office. If you have instagram or facebook, posting daily photos of the kittens will help generate interest, and you might even have adopters lined up before the kittens are ready to leave!
If momma does give birth, the kittens should stay with her for at least 6 weeks
Thank you. I definitely think using resources is wiser than craigslist, as I have read people actually adopt kittens for free and use them as a snake food! What a horrifying thought!
For all of you taking care of feral cats, find out if there is an organization in your area that can help you get the cats spayed and neutered. For example, Portland, Oregon, has the Feral Cat Coalition that has spayed/neutered more than 85,000 cats, for free or for a very small donation. It greatly improves the life of the cats and stops the growth of feral cat colonies. http://www.feralcats.com/who-we-are/
Thank you Janice I did connect with them, and I’m taking a couple of cats in tomorrow. What a great service they offer!
PERSONALLY, i think you shouild let the cat give birth, after all, she knows she is going to be a mum and if you forcibly take that away from her without her knowing what is going on , you dont know what that might do to her mental state…
think how you would feel if you were very pregnant and all of a sudden this stranger -who you thought might have a safe place you could have your baby, takes you to a doctor. who makes you go to sleep and when you wake up, your unborn baby -who you had felt moving just before, has gone and you dont know why or where!!
I know it would freak me out…
Thank you so much for the wonderful input. Shortly after I sent this message this little girl gave birth to five very robust kittens. She is a good mommy and eating like a horse every chance she gets. I am grateful for all of the comments though, because there is another pregnant cat I thought it was farther along than the little one in the picture. The feral cat coalition convinced me to take her in for spaying tomorrow, but based on the information you all have provided, I absolutely cannot do it. Yes, it is wrong to bring more kittens into the world, but the risk for the mother with the blood supply to the uterus, along with how developed the kittens must be, is just too wrong.
Again, thank you everyone. I have never lived in a neighbourhood before, always in the country, and I had no idea how bad the stray cat epidemic is. I will work hard to get the kittens all into good homes and in the future any cat that I think may be a female I am whisking off to the feral cat coalition for spraying!
Thanks again and many purrs.
Hi, have you an update on your sweet kittens, did they have safe deliveries. I hope the outcome was a happy one.