During the seven hour drive to the breeder’s house, I made sure Sophie had some water to keep hydrated and ate some dry food. Luckily, she didn’t get car sick. My other Sphynx, Amorius, had horrible motion sickness, so it really was a relief that Sophie didn’t.
When we arrived, we hung out for a while, put Sophie (in her carrier) on the coffee table so she could become accustomed to the new sights and smells and then left. Sophie wasn’t happy. She growled almost non-stop. That’s when I realized why the breeder wanted her there before she went into heat. She wanted her as non-stressed as possible so that she’d conceive.
And it worked. Four days later, Sophie went into heat and mated for four days. I picked her up and took her back home. She stayed in heat for several days after that, which I thought strange, but according to the breeder, her other females did the same thing.
Back Home Again
So now I had a pregnant cat. As with people, pregnant cats need extra nutrition and should still get exercise. It’s a good thing to supplement a pregnant female cat with kitten food for a bit of extra protein so her body isn’t depleted as the kittens start to grow. Sophie was a rather slender girl and started showing right away. Most cats, as I understand it, won’t usually get pudgy for a month. Not Sophie. She had a tummy on her after a week. Granted, some of that might have been because her appetite got even bigger. Sphynxes tend to eat more than regular cats because their metabolism runs high to produce enough heat to keep them warm.
One sure way to tell if a cat is pregnant is to look at the nipples at around 3 weeks gestation. If they are pinker and more pronounced, she’s pregnant. Right at 3 weeks, Sophie’s nipples got very pink, almost red, and a lot more pronounced. Her tummy has also grown.
Since it had been a while since I’d taken any animal biology courses, I did a quick bit of Internet research to brush up on
cat pregnancy. I read that some cats get a bit of morning sickness like humans. Right after I read this, Sophie vomited the next morning and then for 2 days afterward. Whether it really was morning sickness or just her gulping her food, I’ll never know. But apparently it is possible.
Care of the Pregnant Cat
Pregnant cats should always have plenty of food and clean water available at all times. The gestation period is somewhere around 60-65 days and until the queen is close to her due date, she’ll still act normally and might even run and play. I saw a documentary on TV a few months ago about pregnancy in felines, both large and small. It was fascinating. As the kittens develop, they are protected in their own amniotic sac which cushions them far more than human babies. Of course this is necessary because a mother cat, in the wild anyway, would need to hunt for her food, which would entail running and jumping on prey. So if a pregnant cat is jumping around, it’s not unusual and generally not harmful to the fetuses, unless she falls.
Sophie is now 4 weeks pregnant and everything seems to be going along fine. Her belly is still growing and her teats are even beginning to swell a little. I figure her due date around May 2. It’s recommended, especially with purebred animals, to get an ultrasound or x-ray to see how many babies are in utero. If you know how many to expect, you’ll know once they are all born. If the mother is still laboring for more than an hour or so, and you know there are more babies inside, a vet visit is probably necessary. With a fetus count, you can be prepared if this happens.
I had a polydactyl cat once who was pregnant and when I took her to the vet for a checkup, he palpated 2 kittens. We didn’t do any x-rays or anything. When she gave birth to the first kitten there was a pause of about 5 minutes before she started active labor again. This went on for over an hour. Of course, it was at night, so I had to contact the on-call vet who said to bring her to the pet hospital. He met me there and examined her. There were no more kittens. He said the second one must have been reabsorbed. Yuck. If I’d have had an x-ray done, we might have been able to see only one kitten. Anyway, the vet gently palpated her abdomen and said it should bring her out of labor, and it did. There was no worry about a retained placenta, because it had passed already.
Now I’m counting the days until Sophie gets her x-ray so I’ll know how many babies she’s carrying. One x-ray, the vet assured me, is not enough to do any harm to the kittens at all. I was nervous at first when he recommended an x-ray instead of an ultrasound, but he’d done it so many times before with no harm to the babies, both dogs and cats. Besides, he said an x-ray costs about $100 compared to more than $400 for an ultrasound. I like my vet, he doesn’t try to run up extra costs. He tells it like it is. It’s hard to find a vet like that.
Next week, Sophie will be 5 weeks pregnant, more than half way. Part III will be about her later stages of pregnancy and hopefully her giving birth to a bunch of healthy kittens!