How long are cats pregnant?

So you’re wondering how long cats are pregnant for?!  While there is some variation in the gestation period of all species it is generally accepted that a feline pregnancy lasts for approximately 9 weeks.

How young can a cat have kittens?

While it is typically around 6 months of age that a cat reaches sexual maturity some have been known to go into heat much earlier.  Therefor, if you don’t want kittens it is best to talk to your veterinarian about the most appropriate time to spay your kitten sooner than later.  If after a litter of kittens you decide that it’s best not to have another speak to your vet about spaying the mother (queen) as soon as possible because they can enter another heat and possibly breed again quite soon after the kittens are done nursing.

How many kittens are typically in a litter?

The litter size can vary quite a lot with cats. A single mother (queen) can even deliver kittens fathered by multiple tom cats in the same littler!  The best time to determine how many kittens to expect is around 7 weeks.  At this point in time the skeletons are developed enough to be seen and counted on diagnostic images (ie, X-rays) by the veterinarian.

What can i expect during pregnancy, delivery, and the weeks following?


Generally speaking, the first 3 weeks of pregnancy won’t show a lot of changes visible to the human eye.  However, after that you may begin to notice physical changes such as a slight swelling of the Queen’s nipples, and even a change in their colour to a more pinkish hue.  Once the Queen hits 4-5 weeks more obvious changes will be noticeable, such as the belly growth that we typically expect to see in any pregnancy.

Within the 24hours preceding the beginning of a Queen’s labor her temperature typically drops.  You can use a daily recording of the Queen’s rectal temperature to help you determine when she is going to come into labor.  Once labor begins your Queen may pace and appear uncomfortable or anxious,  however, within about an hour her first kitten should appear and she will typically give birth every 15-20 minutes after that until the whole litter is out.

After cleaning up the kittens the mother will generally eat the placentas for extra nutrition that she will need to replenish her body and continue producing milk for the kittens.  As with most mammals the kittens need to remain with their mother for 8-12weeks prior to weening.

While this gives you a basic idea of what to expect it is always best to speak with your veterinarian to make sure you are appropriately prepared for your exact situation.

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2 Responses

  1. Strahinja says:

    Hey there and thank you for your informative article. I was always interested about this, since as a child I’ve had so many cats I forgot the number to be honest. Our yard was open and we had those silly cats always brining new young kitties.

    It was a fun time. Never knew all of that about mother and changes in her body just a 24 hours before labors start to happen.

    Thank you so much. I will bookmark your website.


    • admin says:

      Thanks very much for your comment!  Im glad you enjoyed the information and had a nice little memory jog 🙂  I hope you enjoy the future content as well!

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