Suddenly Pregnant: A Breeding Story

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If the cat in question has any free, unsupervised access to the outside world, even if it is only for thirty minutes a day or via a come-and-go cat-door, then the cat is not strictly an indoors cat and there is every chance of her becoming pregnant. A fertile mating can take place in seconds and so a female cat that is outside, unwatched, for thirty minutes could easily be mated by a male cat in that time and fall pregnant. Equally be aware of the risk of cat doors as useful access points for entire tom cats.

It is not that unusual for tom cats particularly domesticated toms to wander into a female cat's house through a cat door cat-flap. The mating could take place inside of your home without your own female cat ever leaving the indoors environment. Also be aware of the incredible lengths some cats will go to in order to procreate with the opposite sex. Male cats will scale the "seemingly-unscalable" walls of roof-less cat runs in order to access female cats in heat. Female cats have been known to push their bottoms up against open-mesh wire cat runs and cat aviaries in order to mate with male cats on the outside.

The cats essentially mate through the wire and the female cat becomes pregnant an seemingly 'immaculate conception' without ever having left the cat enclosure.

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Has the female cat escaped recently? This is an extension of the "access to male cats" point, above. If your female cat has recently escaped from your house or yard or cat-run into the local environment i.

Was your female cat in heat recently within the last 2 months? The female cat generally displays the signs of being "in heat" feline estrus signs just before the onset of pregnancy. The estrus period in heat period is the time that the female cat will 'stand' to be mated by a male cat. Being the time of mating, it is, consequently, the time that cat pregnancy is most likely to begin.

If you noticed your cat showing signs of being in heat or "in-season" just before she became fat and "pregnant looking" then there is every chance that she could truly be pregnant. Were there male cats lurking around your house and yard within the last 2 months? Male cats are expert at detecting the scent of a female cat in heat even if we ourselves, as pet owners, can not yet detect the signs. A female cat in heat will attract male cats to her in the hope of copulation. If you noticed a number of male cats lurking around your house or garden just before your female cat became fat and "pregnant looking" then there is every chance that your cat could truly be pregnant.

Was the cat deliberately mated? Obviously, if you intentionally had your female cat mated, then there is every likelihood that she could now be pregnant. This is the situation seen with most cat breeders - they place the male cat in with the female cat and so witness the matings that could result in the pregnancy. Was the female cat seen to mate? Sometimes pet cat owners will chance upon seeing their female cat copulating with a male cat in the house or yard.

This scream and attack will often be very short lived, after which the female cat will roll on her back affectionately termed a post-coital or post-copulatory roll. Did the female cat recently become involved in a cat fight she might have developed an abscess? Because of the violence inherent in feline mating and breeding activities, it is not uncommon for a female cat to suffer from mild bites and scratches as a direct consequence of her copulation activities. An entire female cat who comes back from an outdoors adventure with signs of being in a cat fight bites, wounds and scratches could well have been mated.

Some cats may even go on to develop nasty cat fight abscesses on their bodies, which will need treatment by a vet. Most cat owners start querying whether or not their feline friend could be pregnant after observing various external signs usually a "fat belly" or "pot belly" that "fit with" a diagnosis of cat pregnancy.

Feline pregnancy signs pictures 1 and 2: These are pictures of a heavily pregnant cat in the later stages of cat pregnancy she has since gone on to have her litter. Her abdomen is very round and distended and hangs almost pendulously below her spine. Cat pregnancy signs pictures 3 and 4: These are pictures of a heavily pregnant cat in the later stages of cat pregnancy she has since gone on to have her litter. She is laying on her back and her swollen belly expands outwards around her. Her abdomen is very round and distended.

Her udder mammary gland chain is now well developed with large, well-developed nipples and enlargement of the mammary blood vessels. No milk was yet being produced by this cat. Feline pregnancy signs picture 5: This is an image of the enlarged udder of a pregnant cat the cat's fur has been shaved from the belly for ease of visualisation.

The mammary glands are massively enlarged, as are the blood vessels blue lines criss-crossing the skin supplying them. Feline pregnancy signs picture 6: This is a close up image of the enlarged udder of a pregnant cat. The blood vessels dark blue-purple lines criss-crossing the skin supplying the engorged mammary glands are very dilated and large. Canine pregnancy signs picture 7: This is a close up image of the udder of a dog about to give birth. The udder was large, sagging and pendulous with large, milk-filled nipples. Similar mammary gland enlargement will also be seen in the pregnant cat at the end of feline gestation refer to cat pregnancy picture 5.

Dog pregnancy signs picture 8: This is a close up image of the udder of a dog about to give birth. When the mammary gland was squeezed, milk beaded on the tips of the nipples. This particular mammary gland revealed opaque, white milk see image , but the other glands revealed a honey-like, pale-yellow, straw-coloured milk called "colostrum" the 'first milk'.

The presence of colostrum indicates the end of pregnancy and that labor is soon to commence. Dog pregnancy signs picture 9: This is a close up image of the udder of a different dog about to give birth. When the mammary gland was expressed, milk beaded on the tips of the nipples. This particular mammary gland revealed a honey-like, watery, pale-yellow, straw-coloured milk called "colostrum" the first milk.

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The presence of colostrum indicates that labor is soon to commence. The colostrum appears a bit greenish in this image because colostrum is not fully opaque like true milk is and the black hue of the nipple behind it is showing through the colostrum fluid, artificially darkening the colour. Generally, the first, spherical, uterine swellings that are associated with fetal development in the uterus can be palpated at around days of gestation. The advantages of abdominal palpation as a way of diagnosing cat pregnancy : Abdominal palpation is easy to perform; Abdominal palpation is low-stress for the mother cat the pregnant animal can be palpated in a relaxed standing position without much restraint ; Abdominal palpation does not require the use of drugs or sedatives that might harm the babies; Abdominal palpation is cheap to perform no need for special equipment.

The disadvantages of abdominal palpation as a way of diagnosing cat pregnancy : Abdominal palpation is less accurate at diagnosing pregnancy than certain other modalities of cat pregnancy test. Accurate pregnancy detection by abdominal palpation generally requires a degree of experience and improves with the skill and experience of the vet; Abdominal palpation as a means of diagnosing pregnancy is not always that accurate in female dogs, though it tends to be much more useful in cats cats are easy to palpate ; In a very anxious, resistant cat, the animal's abdominal muscles may be too tense and tight to permit any level of quality abdominal palpation; False positives and negatives are commonplace with abdominal palpation; If there are only one or two fetuses present, these may be missed on abdominal palpation it is easier to diagnose cat pregnancy by palpation if the litter is large.

It is not possible to determine litter size with abdominal palpation; The viability and health of the babies can not be assessed on abdominal palpation except, perhaps, in the later stages of cat pregnancy when the live fetal kittens may be observed to move and kick under the veterinarian's fingers ; Aging the fetuses is inaccurate on abdominal palpation; Palpating too roughly can result in injury to the fetuses or to the uterus this seldom ever occurs, but I will throw it out there ; During certain stages of the cat pregnancy gestation period usually the middle weeks of the pregnancy , the fetuses and uterine bags become difficult to feel and the accuracy of the pregnancy detection plumets.

At this stage, the fetuses are too small to detect with accuracy and the surrounding fetal fluid bags uterine swellings are too enlarged and 'floppy' to palpate clearly. Please note: Kitten sizes and uterine-swelling sizes can vary somewhat with the number of kittens in the litter.

Larger litters tend to have smaller kittens and smaller uterine swellings than might be expected for the stage of feline pregnancy that they are at. Abdominal ultrasound is a very useful way of diagnosing pregnancy in cats I would say that it is the way of diagnosing cat pregnancy that is most favoured by veterinarians. The veterinarian places the ultrasound-wave emitting probe on the animal's abdomen and uses the reflection of the ultrasound waves bouncing off the various tissue surfaces to detect the fetal kittens and the surrounding uterine fluids and placental membranes present in the cat's abdomen.

The surrounding placental fluids, in particular, are very obvious on ultrasound scan and can usually be spotted quite early on in the cat pregnancy even when the fetal kittens themselves are only very tiny.

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Embryonic kittens position themselves along the uterine horns of the pregnant cat around days after conception and they can usually be detected on ultrasound as discrete spherical swellings from about days of gestation. It must be noted, however, that to diagnose pregnancy this early on in cat gestation does generally require a very good ultrasound machine and a considerably experienced ultrasonographer.

In my experience having only rarely had access to the kinds of million-dollar ultrasound machines that are rarely ever found in most normal vet clinics , more reliable pregnancy diagnosis is generally achieved by ultrasound machine if the feline pregnancy is around 3 weeks old or more. The detection of a fetal heart beat is normally only possible from about 22 days of gestation, so, if the heartbeat can be seen, you know that the kitten must have a fetal age of at least 3 weeks and that it is, for now, a living, presumably-viable kitten.

Dog and cat pregnancy images 10 and These are images of a developing puppy foetus as seen on an ultrasound pregnancy scan note - foetal kittens look very similar to foetal puppies on ultrasound. The fetus floats suspended within a liquid cavity of uterine fluid and fetal membranes the black spaces surrounding the floating foetus.

In the second image 11 , I have labeled the two-sided foetal heart. The heart was rapidly beating away when this photo was taken, confirming that the dog foetus was indeed alive and healthy. In addition to the diagnosis of cat pregnancy, pregnancy ultrasound scans can also provide us with additional information about the fetal kittens. Abdominal ultrasound can be used to estimate the kittens' fetal age and the stage of cat pregnancy how long there is to go before the kittens will be born. Ultrasound scans can be used to evaluate the health and viability of the kittens present. It can also be used to estimate the numbers of fetal kittens present though it is not so accurate as radiography for this purpose.

Fetal aging using ultrasound: The crown-rump lengths the distance from the head to the bottom of the pelvis of the fetal kittens are often able to be detected on ultrasound scan. As kittens grow in utero, their bodies become longer i. The crown-rump length of the kittens' bodies can help the ultrasonographer to determine the approximate age of the fetuses present in utero i. Fetal lengths as they are used for the purposes of fetal kitten aging and cat gestation staging are described in our great "stages of feline pregnancy" page.

The main problem with using fetal kitten crown-rump-length estimations as a means of fetal aging is the fact that the fetal kittens do not always position themselves neatly in a straight line. They curl up into balls, mould themselves around other nearby kittens or abdominal organs and, in the later stages of cat pregnancy, they move about. This can make it very difficult to determine their body lengths with any accuracy.

For this reason, many ultrasonographers choose to measure the cross-sectional diameter of the kittens' heads and chests , rather than their crown-rump lengths, as a more accurate marker of fetal age.

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For example, kittens with a head diameter of 1. In the second and third trimesters of pregnancy i. The fetal heart beat also provides us with another element of fetal aging. A fetal heart beat can normally only be detected from days of cat gestation age and, so, the detection of a heartbeat tells us that the kitten must be at least 22 days old, developmentally. Subjectively, I have found that the presence or absence of surrounding placental fluids also helps to indicate the gestation age of the fetal kittens.

Kittens that are within about 2 weeks of being born very late pregnancy tend to have little to no surrounding fluid present in the amniotic and allantoic sacs encasing their bodies. I put myself back on bed rest, continuing to work from my laptop where I could, but within a fortnight I suffered another threatened miscarriage. This scare could not have come at a worse time - right as the Beast from the East arrived with heavy snows in late February. I was admitted to hospital on a Monday with another episode of heavy bleeding.

No source could be found, however, so doctors were happy to release me 48 hours later, after a subsequent scan revealed a healthy growing foetus. There was a problem with getting home, though - Rob was now snowed in. I spent one night alone in a near-empty hotel in the city.

Then, there was nothing for it but to call my brother, who lived near my family home 40 minutes away.