Cat pregnancy & bleeding

Written by sarah arnette
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Cat pregnancy & bleeding
Bleeding during pregnancy is not normal. (cat breastfeeding kittens image by Ashley Djuricin from Fotolia.com)

Symptoms of pregnancy in a cat can be easy to miss, especially in long haired cats. If the pregnancy is caught early, it is important to provide proper prenatal care to ensure the health of the kittens. If there is any sign of bleeding during the pregnancy the cat must be immediately taken to the veterinarian's office.

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Diagnosing Pregnancy

A pregnant cat will ingest more food and water than she had before pregnancy. She may also sleep more than usual. As the pregnancy progresses, her nipples will begin to stand out more, a condition referred to as "pinking out." The pregnancy should last for 65 days, however, most of this time the pregnancy may not be noticed. According to MarvistaVet.com, an X-ray may be used to determine the pregnancy and the number of kittens to expect, but this is only done towards the end of pregnancy. A blood test may be conducted at the veterinarian's office to verify pregnancy, although she will need to be at least halfway through her gestation period. A test before the 35th day may not provide valid results. Ultrasounds can be conducted after the 22nd day of pregnancy. Palpation is still the most effective way to determine pregnancy and can be done as early as 17 days of pregnancy.

Potential Complications

Just as humans can have serious complications during pregnancy, so can cats. The most frequent complication is miscarriage or termination of the pregnancy, noted by a heavy bleeding during the pregnancy. It is possible that a single kitten may miscarry, but typically the entire litter will terminate. If the bleeding occurs late in the pregnancy, she may be delivering early which requires intervention by a veterinarian to ensure her safety and that of the kittens. Other complications include dystocha, or an extended labour, and retained placenta. A retained placenta can cause infections, kitten neglect and must be treated by a veterinarian.

Excessive Bleeding

If a pregnant cat begins to bleed, the results can be devastating for both the cat and the kittens. In most cases, the kittens do not survive the loss of blood and are aborted by the cat. While this is a natural process, it can cause fear for the cat owner and be very dangerous for the cat. The blood loss can cause a sharp decline in blood pressure and may result in the death of the cat if left untreated.

Preventing Complications

While there is little that can be done to assist a troubled kitten during gestation, caring for the mother can help to protect the kittens. According to Camino Animal Clinic, a pregnant mother should be taken to the veterinarian's office for her prenatal visits. No vaccinations should be administered during her pregnancy. The mother cat should be fed prenatal foods or a high quality kitten food to provide the necessary nutrients to the kittens. The mother cat should be handled with extreme care and never dropped. Her exposure to the outside should be limited.

Preventing Pregnancies

If the cat is not a show cat, it may be beneficial to have her spayed. Spaying a cat is the complete removal of her reproductive organs such as the uterus and ovaries. This procedure should be completed before the cat's first heat, although it can be done any time after that. Spaying a cat is a great way to prevent spraying, yowling and unwanted pregnancies.

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