How Long Is the Gestation Period for Cats?

The gestation period also known as pregnancy may occur in female cats that have been in heat and fertilized by a male cat. The gestation period lasts for 9 weeks (or 63 days) on average. It is important to know a few things about feline pregnancy if your pet is expecting kittens.

Gestation Period

A female cat that is sexually mature (after the age of 6 to 12 months) and has heat cycles can get pregnant is she meets a male cat. The gestation period is 9 weeks or 63 days.

However, this is only an average; the cat may give birth earlier (as early as 58 days after the fertilization) or later (67 days after the fertilization).

It may be difficult to establish when the delivery will take place, as you don't know for sure when the fertilization took place. However, you may monitor the cat and look for signs that signal the stage of the pregnancy or that the delivery is near.

Changes in the Gestating Cat

A gestating cat will go through a few physical and behavioral changes. During the first 3 weeks of pregnancy, the cat may not show any signs of pregnancy. She may be quieter and hide more, but these signs may pass undetected.

After 3 weeks, the cat's nipples may show signs of pregnancy; the nipples will be pink, enlarged and tender to the touch.

The cat may have appetite changes; she may eat less during the first weeks of pregnancy, due to the possible nausea. In the more advanced stages of pregnancy, the cat will eat more than usual, so as to provide the necessary nutrients for the kittens.

After week 5 of pregnancy, the cat's abdominal cavity will be visibly larger and you may detect movement of the kittens inside the abdomen.

The cat will be more affectionate during the gestation period.

Symptoms the Delivery Is Near

When the delivery is close, the cat will display a hiding behavior and start making a nest for the newborns in a warm and quiet place.

The nipples will become red, swollen and there may be drops of milk.

The cat will refuse to eat 1 to 2 days prior to the delivery.

Just before the labor starts, the cat will lick her genitals.

Possible Complications during Gestation

There may be a few pregnancy complications that you should be aware of. Bleeding will signal that something is wrong with the kittens. Consult your vet if you notice bleeding.

The kittens may be spontaneously aborted; the kittens may be expulsed or reabsorbed.

Spaying during Pregnancy

If you would like to get your cat spayed, this may be possible during pregnancy, but it presents a few risks. The procedure may affect the kittens and may result in abortion; the surgery is also more complicated and will cause more bleeding than usual.

You should postpone the spaying for after the kittens are delivered.