Cat lovers naturally treat their beloved felines like royalty. We pamper them and pretty much let them have the run of the castle. But did you know that unspayed and pregnant cats are actually called “queens”? The origin of this pet name comes from the Old English word cwen, which means honored woman, wife, or female ruler. For those of us with cats, this makes complete sense. There is no question that our female felines rule our worlds!

But the use of the word “queen” in reference to our cats goes beyond their regal presence in our lives. When a mama cat is preparing to have her kittens, the process is actually called “queening”. If you have not spayed your cat, especially if she is an outdoor cat, it is a realistic possibility that she could expand her kingdom.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding cat pregnancy:

When Can Cats Get Pregnant?

Pregnancy in felines can occur when they are just kittens themselves, as young as six months old. Queens can continue to go into heat every 2-3 weeks during the months between spring and early fall.

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Is Expecting?

Of course, the most reliable way to confirm if your cat is pregnant is to make an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination. A blood test can detect if your cat is pregnant as early as 20 days in some cases. Confirmation can also be made with an ultrasound in mid-pregnancy or an x-ray in the latter part of the pregnancy. All of these serve a different purpose so speak with your veterinarian to decide which one or multiple ones should be performed.

But how would you know at home if your cat may be pregnant? You will likely notice that her belly will be getting bigger. This occurs around 30 days after mating. Around 2-3 weeks after conception, another symptom called “pinking up” occurs when her nipples become red and enlarged.

What Is The Duration of Cat Pregnancy?

Queens are usually pregnant for just over two months, roughly 63-65 days.

How Should You Care For Your Queen?

The stages of queening are somewhat similar to those experienced by pregnant women. As your queen’s uterus changes and her hormones surge in the first few weeks, she may be tired and not her usual self. Morning sickness in cats can also occur, but it is relatively rare. If your queen shows a lack of appetite or signs of vomiting, you will want to take her to your veterinarian.

As pregnancy continues, your cat will want to eat more…typically one-and-a-half times her normal amount. Since she’s eating for 3-6 (herself and her kittens), you will want to make sure she has constant access to her food. Consult with your vet about the kind of food that is best to feed your queen during the various pregnancy stages.

Are Vaccinations Safe During Queening?

Because viruses can spread to kittens in utero, you want to protect them before they are born. If you are planning to breed your cat, it is ideal to vaccinate your cat beforehand, as most vaccines are not safe during pregnancy. It is always best to ask your vet which vaccinations are safe before any treatment is given.

What Do You Need For The Royal Delivery?

Just like any expectant mother, your cat needs a comfortable place to give birth. Setting up a nesting box in a quiet place and allowing your queen to get comfortable there will help her as she prepares for the big day. The ideal nesting box should be a medium size with a low opening for easy entry. Including a newspaper lining with soft blankets and old towels will make the box perfect for your queen and her kittens. Of course, since your queen is in charge (as always!), don’t be surprised if she chooses to give birth in a completely different location. This is why it is essential to keep her inside as the delivery date draws near. You don’t want her to go into labor elsewhere.

How Can You Tell When Your Cat Is Ready To Give Birth?

Nesting is just one sign that your queen is preparing for delivery. At this time, you will want to take her into the veterinarian for a final prenatal checkup. You will then be watching for changes in her behavior that will be your clue that your cat is just about ready to deliver. For one, she will stop eating about 24 hours ahead of time. Her temperature will also drop below 100° F.

If you are planning on breeding your cat or if you suspect your royal highness might already be expecting, contact us at Anasazi Animal Clinic to schedule an appointment.