I can feel my cat’s kittens in her belly

The title comes from a Google search, which prompts Google to throw up suggested search terms. This is one of them. It implies that a cat owner can feel their cat’s kittens in her belly. The slightly worrying aspect of this is that veterinarians advise that, “Palpitating the queen’s abdomen requires experience and gentleness, and should only be done by a veterinarian or an experienced breeder”. A “queen” is a breeding (not spayed) female cat as you no doubt know.

So if a person can feel kittens in their cat’s belly they should be an experienced breeder or someone who is absolutely certain that they know what they’re doing. This is because there are other structures in the abdomen which may feel like kittens in her belly because these other structures are lumpy. The problem is that if you poke and prod to try and feel kittens you might damage the “fetal-placental units” and cause a miscarriage.

Pregnant cat
Pregnant cat. Image by Marc Pascual from Pixabay.
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The advice stated comes from four veterinarians in America who have written an excellent book for cat owners called Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.

I’ll add a little bit more detail. Pregnant cats can occasionally suffer from morning sickness. It might happen during the third to fourth week of pregnancy. It is caused by hormonal changes and the stretching and distension of the uterus.

Morning sickness may last a few days and at this time she may be apathetic, off her food and vomit occasionally. A veterinarian should evaluate the pregnant mother if she vomits for more than 2 days.

Checking that your cat is pregnant can be done by abdominal ultrasound. An experienced user can detect pregnancy at day 15. Another method to detect pregnancy is the Witness Pregnancy Detection Kit. This was designed to detect the hormone relaxin in dogs but it can be used for cats after 30 days of pregnancy.

By 35 days the foetuses are floating in capsules of fluid and they can’t be detected through palpation. The nipples become pink and obvious and the belly has increased in size.

X-rays are good for determining the number of foetuses while ultrasound is good for detecting heartbeats. The bone structure of the foetuses can be detected by x-ray past day 43. X-rays should be avoided in early pregnancy.

“Late signs of pregnancy are an obvious pear-shaped abdomen and fetal movements”. These are easily detectable over the last 2 weeks of pregnancy.

Note: all the quotes are from Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, third edition.

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