Many people enjoy taking care of their cats or dogs (or even both). Thankfully, caring for both cats and dogs is a fairly straightforward process.
Of course, you will want to make sure that your pet’s basic needs are being met. This includes making sure that your pets have food and water, that your dogs get time outside to relieve themselves, and that your cats have clean litter boxes to use as they please. Most people who adopt their pets know that taking care of animals is a large undertaking and it is a commitment that can last for a decade or two. With that being said, taking care of an expecting pet is even more troublesome, as you are caring for the lives of many animals, rather than just your own.
Once you know the basics of animal pregnancy, you will be equipped to help your dog or cat through this major moment in life and before you know it, you will have a litter of new animals to care for.
What Lifestyle Changes Should You Make?
Pregnant cats still hold up the stereotype that cats do not need a lot of special care aside from attending to their basic needs. Unless there is something wrong with the pregnancy itself, you shouldn’t have to change too much about your cat’s environment and lifestyle until the due date is close. Only within a day or two before the actual birth of the cat will you need to make special changes.
When the cat reaches this final stage of pregnancy, you should prepare a cardboard box (or laundry basket) filled with soft blankets in the safest, quietest area of your home. Do keep in mind that your cat might not use this box, even if it is well prepared. Additionally, the only other lifestyle change you should make is making sure that your cat cannot try to nest outdoors when the final stage of pregnancy hits.
Similar to cats, aside from some nutritional changes, dogs do not have a lot of lifestyle changes that need to be made when they are pregnant. The difference is that the stage of pregnancy where you will need to prepare a special place for the dog will be different. For cats, it is often one to two days before birth. For dogs, you should begin creating a comfortable place about two weeks beforehand, as your dog will want to lie down there. You can create this space by taking a large cardboard box and lining it with blankets and other soft material, and placing it in a quiet, safe corner of your home. You will also need to reduce exercise and strenuous activity at about the eighth week of pregnancy, as this can induce premature labor.
How Long Does Pregnancy Last?
The cat gestation period ranges between 63 and 67 days, which is approximately eight to nine weeks although there have been a fair few healthy cases of cats that have been born at 58 days. During this, the cat gestation period care will steadily begin to increase, and you will usually need to start making changes at the fourth week. This is the week where cats begin to experience morning sickness and food refusal (often due to the morning sickness).
Cats will also have a noticeably swollen abdomen at this point and they will begin gaining weight. You will need to put food and water on the ground in easy-to-reach places. From here, the care that you will need to give will only increase as the due date of the kittens draws closer.
The gestation period for dogs also sits at about 63 days of pregnancy, which is exactly nine weeks. Dog gestation period care will begin to increase as soon as you know that your dog is expecting, in which case you should gradually increase the amount of food your dog eats to about twice what it would normally eat and switch it out with food meant for growth (most commonly puppy food). The next major change you will need to make will be between the fourth and sixth week where you drastically reduce how much activity your dog has so that you can prevent preterm labor. At this stage, the most you should be doing are gentle walks.
How Do You Care for Pregnant Dogs?
There are a few different ways that you will need to care for your pregnant dog. You will need to change how much and what type of food you are feeding it. You will need to run diagnostic tests to ensure the puppies are developing properly. You will also need to prepare a “whelping box.” This is the box used by the dog when she goes into labor. Dog labor is known as whelping.
For food, you should increase the food intake to about twice as much as your dog normally eats. You should switch the food type to food that is designed for growth, which will usually be puppy food. Diagnostic tests are pretty straightforward. These include routine ultrasounds and blood tests, meaning you will want to bring your dog to the vet every few weeks or so to check development.
The whelping box will require a few different items. Starting with the box itself, it should be large enough to accommodate your dog and a litter of puppies and have a lining of blankets or other soft cloth. You should line the bottom with newspaper for easy cleanup. You will need a lot of paper and cloth towels for cleaning puppies up. You should have thermometer, unwaxed dental floss (to tie off umbilical cords), clean scissors (to cut umbilical cords), heating pads for the puppies, iodine, and the contact information of the nearest open vet and your regular vet in case of an emergency.
How Do You Care for Pregnant Cats?
Cats often act as if they don’t need any help from their owners. While cat birthing is generally pretty easy and non-problematic, there are a few things that you can do to ease your cat into this process. You are going to want to adjust the food your cat is eating, and you are going to want to have a comfortable box with blankets for the cat to give birth in.
Food changes are quite similar to a dog’s in that you will want to switch to increased portions of kitten food so that your cat will have the nutrients to sustain her litter of kittens. Your cat will need to be on this food until the kittens are weaned, so prepare to buy a fair bit of it. Because a cat’s movement will be affected by the pregnant belly, you will need to move food and water bowls onto the floor for ease of access.
A cat’s box for birthing might not be used, but it is important to have one anyway. The box should be large enough for the cat and her litter, as well as with enough space to be lined with blankets. The bottom should be covered in newspaper to make cleaning up easier. You will also need towels to clean kittens off and other supplies to assist with labor.
What Do You Do During Labor?
Unless you are prepared enough to have your dog or cat at the vet to deliver their young (which can be incredibly stressful for the animal and is not always the first recommendation), you are usually going to be the one handling labor and delivery of the litter. Dog and cat labor are both typically easy, but you should always be prepared with the number of your vet and/or an emergency clinic if something isn’t right.
Cats, as with most other parts of their lives, are fairly independent when it comes to labor. You can expect two to five kittens and there will be between 10 and 60 minutes between each kitten. If more than three hours pass after a kitten delivery and you know for a fact that there is another kitten in there, it is time to go to the vet. When kittens are delivered, they usually break out of the amniotic sac on their own or the mother cat will tear the sack open.
If your cat is too preoccupied to do this, you will need to carefully cut it open yourself. Cats will usually lick their young to get them breathing, but your cat might be too tired or preoccupied to do this. In this case, you will need to gently rub a towel on the cat the same way the mother would lick the cat. Keep the kitten tilted face-down and hope that the kitten breathes.
After this, you will want to make sure each kitten has a placenta that came with it. Some cats eat their kitten’s placentas and this is just a normal aspect of the animal kingdom. If you believe that there is still a placenta in the mother cat, it is time for the vet.
As for the umbilical cords, the mother cat will usually chew off the cord on its own, but if she is too tired for this, you can tie a thread around the cord an inch away from the body, and then tie another cord another inch away from the body. Next, you just cut between those two loops. As long as the kittens begin suckling their mother, you will be good to go.
Dogs also give birth easily and usually without much need for assistance. Each puppy will be born in its placental membrane and the dog will usually tear the membrane off (and sometimes eat it). If this does not happen, you will need to open the membrane yourself so that the puppy can breathe.
Make sure to count the placentas and keep track of the ones the mother has eaten. A placenta stuck in the mother can cause severe infection and requires a vet’s care. As the mother cleans the pups after birth, she should cut the umbilical cord as well. If she does not, then you need to snip it. First wipe the belly of the puppy with iodine to prevent infection. Using unwaxed dental floss, you can tie the floss about one to two inches above the stomach and then cut.