Learning that your cat is pregnant may surprise you, especially when you weren’t expecting a litter of new-born felines anytime soon. Knowing how long your cat is pregnant can be crucial to planning your and your pet’s lives to ensure the safety and health of your pet.
It’s also important to find good pet owners for the kitties if you’re planning to give them away. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 3.2 million cats end up in U.S. animal shelters every year.
Being a responsible pet owner could start with knowing how long your cat can be pregnant.
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How long are cats pregnant?
Cat pregnancies are estimated to last around 63 to 65 days on average or about two months, according to PetMD.
Under a vet’s supervision, a blood test, ultrasound, X-ray or abdominal palpation are the most common ways to accurately tell if your cat is pregnant.
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How long after a cat starts showing will she give birth?
Pregnant cats, also known as queens, start showing about halfway through their pregnancies. For some cats, the showing can be a marker to tell she’s in the middle of her pregnancy, about 30 days in. For cats that are overweight, it can be hard to determine when they’re showing conclusively.
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Can you pick up a pregnant cat?
Picking up your pregnant cat who's getting rounder by the minute might be tempting, but picking her the right way is important for her and her kittens' safety. If you do have to pick your cat, Purina, a pet product company, says to "scoop" her up from the bottom to avoid touching her sensitive belly which might cause her discomfort or possibly hurt the kittens.
Avoid juggling your cat in any way, especially toward the end of the pregnancy. Too much activity can cause her stress.
How many kittens can a cat have in her first litter?
According to Cats Protection Guide, a cat can have between one to nine kittens in one litter but an average litter size is four to six kittens for most breeds.
For a first time queen, it's possible her litter is smaller than the average, birthing about two to three kittens.
How many times can a cat get pregnant in a year?
Technically, cats can get pregnant up to five times a year since their gestation period lasts only for about two months. However, a veterinarian on PetCoach suggests that while average cats can produce a litter three times a year, only once or twice a year at most is recommended to give the cat necessary time to recover.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How long are cats pregnant for? What to know about feline pregnancy