“I have a pregnant stray cat hanging around my house. How long until she has her babies? When can I get her fixed?”
According to the Wild Discovery Guide to Your Cat, a cat’s pregnancy will typically last between nine and ten weeks. They don’t start to look bigger until around four or five weeks, so if your cat’s very visibly pregnant, she’s probably quite well along. You can prepare a birthing box for her by cutting a hole in a clean, covered, cardboard box (low enough that she can use it as a door, but high enough that the kittens won’t be able to crawl out of the box right away – about five inches) and lining the bottom of the box with shredded newspaper and clean cloth. However, there’s no guarantee she’ll use it – strays tend to try to hide their kittens from people.
You can bring the mother cat in to be spayed once her babies are weaned – usually about five to six weeks after they’re born. It’s possible for her to get pregnant again while she’s nursing, though, so keep her separated from tomcats. The kittens can be spayed or neutered once they weigh at least two pounds. Sources vary on how old they need to be, anywhere from eight weeks to twelve, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian and see what they recommend.
Because spaying and neutering cats and dogs is vital in reducing the overpopulation problem that leads to so many homeless animals being euthanized, animal welfare programs provide a lot of resources to make it as easy and cost-effective as possible. The ASPCA provides a searchable database of low-cost spay/neuter programs across the country so you can find the one that’s most convenient for you.
Anyone considering taking in a cat or kitten is welcome to come check out Eric Swanson’s We’re Having a Kitten!: From the Big Decision Through the Crucial First Year and Wendy Christensen’s Complete Guide to Cat Care, both available here at the Newton Falls Public Library.