Advice for Expectant Cat Owners

Dog, Cat, Rabbit Vet

Pregnant Queens

Duration of pregnancy is 63 days +/- 2 days.
Prior to the birth of kittens your cat may show the following signs:

  • Nesting behaviour
  • Your cat may seek isolation
  • Your cat may go off her food


Ensure the pregnant queen receives good quality cat food to enable her to have enough energy to deliver the kittens and produce enough milk for them during lactation.

The birth

The first kitten is usually born within one hour of labour starting. The length of time between deliveries of kittens varies from between 10 and 60 minutes. The entire labour is usually complete in 2-6 hours but may last for up to 10 hours.

It is also not uncommon to encounter split births, with some kittens being born on one day and the remainder being born 24-48 hours later. Normally a cats labour passes uneventfully and it will not require any human intervention. It is important not to intervene or distract the queen unless absolutely necessary. The average litter size ranges from 1 to 8 kittens.

You should contact the surgery immediately if the following occurs: –

  • The birth is overdue by more than 2 days
  • The queen is pushing for more than 2 hours
  • A kitten that appears to be stuck
  • Delay of more than 2-3 hours after delivery of a kitten


As with bitches regular worming of a pregnant queen is strongly recommended and suitable products can be obtained from the veterinary centre.

Flea treatment

The queen will pass flea’s onto her kittens which in severe cases can cause the kittens to become anaemic and even die, it is therefore strongly recommended that you treat your pregnant cat with a suitable efficacious flea treatment prior to the birth of the kittens.

Frontline spray is safe to use in kittens from 2 days of age and is effective against fleas, ticks and lice. Please check if using over the counter medications on pregnant and cats with kittens that it is safe to use.

Post labour

Post labour it is not uncommon for the mother cat to move her kittens from the original birthing area is she feels the kittens are under threat. Providing the queen with a safe secure area away from busy walkways will help the queen to feel more comfortable and less likely to more the kittens. Keeping visitors to a minimum will also help her to feel less threatened.

Beware that post birth the queen will become fertile very quickly and can get pregnant even while feeding kittens if she is allowed outside.


Ideally queens should be fully vaccinated prior to being mated, this immunity will be passed to the kittens during pregnancy. Kitten vaccinations are done routinely at nine weeks and twelve weeks of age respectively. Vaccinations are available to protect your kitten against flu, enteritis and leukaemia (FeLV). Microchipping can be carried out at vaccination or at routine neutering at a reduced cost.

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