Breeding, pregnancy, and birthing in cats may seem simple, but can have complications. Cats can have multiple litters in a year. It is important to know when your cat may be expecting to give birth so that you can be available to provide assistance if necessary. It is important to know what signs indicate that your cat may be experiencing difficulties delivering the kittens and know when veterinary attention is needed.
A caesarean section or C-section is major surgery performed to remove kittens from the uterus. This is most commonly performed as an emergency procedure when there is difficulty with natural birth. Most cats recover quickly from this procedure. Most cats have fully recovered from anesthesia by the time they are discharged to go home.
The estrous cycle in cats occurs seasonally and is variable with the amount of daylight. Most cats become very affectionate, even demanding when in heat. They persistently rub against their owners (or objects such as furniture) constantly wanting attention and they become very vocal. Tomcats that have never been seen before in your yard or neighborhood will appear and may spray urine on the house to mark the territory or may even attempt to enter the house to mate with the female. To avoid the noise of a heat cycle, unwanted tomcat visitors, and prevent unwanted pregnancies, it is best to have your cat spayed.
Special attention needs to be given to a cat’s nutrition before and during her pregnancy to promote a healthy birth and healthy kittens. It is important to maintain a good body condition throughout pregnancy as her weight increases. A good quality kitten or all life stages diet is recommended during the entire pregnancy; ideally one evaluated using feeding trials. This diet is usually fed throughout the lactation period, but attention to body condition is essential here as well, and the diet may need to be restricted if there is a small number of kittens or the cat starts becoming overweight. Weaning is usually aided by feeding significantly less food for a few days while restricting access to nursing to decrease milk production.
There are many possible causes of infertility in female cats, including behavioral, physical, and medical factors. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and testing to diagnose the reason for your female cat's infertility, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
There are many possible causes of infertility in male cats, including behavioral, genetic, physical, and medical factors. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and testing to diagnose the reason for your male cat's infertility, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
Miscarriage refers to the death of a fetus during pregnancy. Miscarriages that occur early in pregnancy may be completely asymptomatic, while later-term miscarriages may result in stillborn kittens or mummification. Miscarriage can be caused by infection or hormonal influences. Diagnosis is key to appropriate management. If a cat develops a fever during pregnancy antibiotics may prevent miscarriage.
Breeding cats can be an extremely rewarding experience. However, before undertaking a breeding program, it is essential to understand what this involves, from the time of mating to the time of weaning. It is also important to remember that tens of millions of unwanted cats are euthanized every year. It will be your responsibility to find permanent, loving homes for every kitten.