Maternity Care

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When you discover your queen is pregnant, there is a lot of excitement tinged with concerns about how she should be cared for during and after the kittening (giving birth).

A queen is normally pregnant (gestation period) for about 65 days from the day of mating, however it may vary from 58days or as long as 72days. Quite often breed variations will have an influence on the length of gestation (Speak to the Veterinary Surgeon, who will advise you)

Pregnancy can be detected by expect and careful palpation of the abdomen from about four to five weeks after mating. We offer ultrasonic examination from four weeks on wards for £. (Ask the Veterinary Surgeon for advice)

Your queen may show signs of pregnancy in the first month after mating; she may appear a little less active or may vomit. In lean cats, it may be noticeable to see abdominal enlargement from about six weeks onwards, especially those who are pregnant for the first time and those with large litters.

The following advice is to be used as a general guide only and if in doubt seek the advice of the Veterinary Surgeon, It is also recommended to obtain further in depth advice about the management of the pregnant cat. See our list of recommended reading for further information.

Care of the queen

Exercise

Tender loving care is required as normal, it is important to allow her a normal exercise regime throughout the pregnancy and should not be restricted.

Worming

It is advisable to worm your queen a month before her due date; this will help to reduce the risk of passing on worms to her kittens. - (Speak to the Veterinary Surgeon who will advise you on the most appropriate treatment for your queen)

Diet

A change of diet during pregnancy and lactation (Producing milk for her kittens) should need to be observed, to support the queens increased requirements for energy, protein, calcium and phosphorus to support the growing kittens inside her and replace the nourishment she requires to feed her kittens. A queen's energy requirement goes up from two to four times as much during pregnancy and lactation. The queen is unable to consume two to four times as much food, so a very energy dense food is required, There are premium brands available, which provide more energy in a smaller amount of food, do that the queen does not need to eat huge quantities. (The Veterinary Surgeon will advise you)

Preparation for labour / kittening

About two weeks before your queen is due to kitten, it may be advisable to separate her from the other animals in the household (unless this will be too distressing for her) and provide her with an area, which she will have peace, quite and warm, she is most likely to find this area herself! A kittening box can be provided (this can be a large cardboard box, with a lid for added privacy) where it can be screened off if necessary. The ideal temperature in the room should be about 72°F (22°C). On one side of the box, cut away a hole large enough for her to climb in and out. As mentioned earlier, your queen, may be very keen to find her own "nesting" area, if there are areas in the house, you would prefer her not to give birth in, restrict her entry into them. Provide the queen with plenty of bedding, newspaper is ideal, so that the queen can tear it up and it can be easily replaces when soiled.

At least ten days before the queen is due, it may be a good idea to visit the Vet for a health check and who will advise you on the impending birth.

Postnatal care

The queen can be offered a drink and food before she rests. Most newborn kittens will suck straight away, or within half an hour. It is important for the kittens to suck the colostrums during the first one or two days of life to provide the maternal antibodies from the mother. As with human babies, during the first week the kittens will suck around every two hours gradually increasing to every four hours. The queen will normally lick and care for her kittens and it is important to keep the temperature of the surroundings at least 70°F. (21°C)

Her normal exercise can be resumed as and when your queen shows a desire and feeding of an appropriate energy dense diet is advisable until the kittens are fully weaned.

Again, it is advisable to obtain a health check from the Veterinary Surgeon following the birth and or the following problems are observed.

Signs to watch for

Mastitis - this is where there is inflammation and infection of the mammary glands, the mammary glands usually feel hot, hard and are painful for the queen on touching or when the kittens suckle, sometimes they can form an abscess. Consult the Vet immediately, if you notice any changes in the mammary glands.

Eclampsia - Also known as milk fever, puerperal tetany - is where the queens calcium level in her blood drops to a dangerously low level, she may show signs of restlessness, loss of appetite, she may then begin to walk stiffly and stagger, eventually she may develop a high temperature, muscle spasms and convulsions. Prompt veterinary treatment is required to reverse these signs. The appropriate diet such as the one described above, can play an important part in preventing the onset of this disease.

If a foul smelling discharge or bleeding is noticed before, during and after the birth.

There was any kind of problem during the delivery.

The kittens appear cold, listless, cries continuously or will not suckle from their mother.

The queen does not eat or drink within 24 hours of giving birth.

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