Cat Care

Pseudo Pregnancy in Cats

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pseudo-pregnancy in cats

Occasionally following oestrus a queen that has not been mated nevertheless develops signs of pregnancy. There may be physical signs, such as the enlargement of the abdomen, even although there are no embryos growing in the womb, and swelling of the mammary glands and teats with the production of milk. Eventually the cat may search out a suitable corner and scratch around to make a bed in the typical manner of a female in the final stages of pregnancy. Usually the physical and behavioral changes gradually subside and the cat returns to normal. Pseudo, false or phantom pregnancy is much rarer in cats than in dogs, although it can be artificially induced by human interference.

The procedure is generally carried out to halt oestrus, particularly the nuisance of calling which has been continuing for some time. Mating is simulated using a lubricated sterile glass pipe or cotton bud, which is gently inserted into the cat's vagina and carefully moved forwards and backwards and from side to side. A second person holds the cat firmly by the back of the neck, as would be the case if she was genuinely being mated. The effect of this is to stimulate ovulation to take place and hence the rapid cessation of oestrus. Pseudopregnancy follows in the manner previously described, but there is no fertilization of eggs or implantation and development of embryos. Some breeders of pedigree cats employ a vasectomized male, which has previously been used as a stud torn and continues to be capable of mating, for the same purpose.

Pseudopregnancy usually lasts for about five to six weeks after which the queen eventually resumes calling. Obviously, inducing ovulation and pseudopregnancy are useful in helping a breeder to plan and space out the litters of kittens produce; by a particular queen. It may be less traumatic for the cat than the frustration of continual calling when she is not permitted to mate.