Q. My husband and I came across a stray cat a week ago who was meowing away. We took her in, can tell she is pregnant, and have decided to adopt her. What should we expect?
Long Island City, New York
Dear Ms. Higgins,
A. A cat pregnancy lasts about nine weeks. The fact that you can tell your new pet is pregnant suggests she is rather far along. The average litter size is four, and it tends to take about an hour between each kitten.
After each kitten comes into the world, the mother will pass the newborn’s fetal membranes, including the placenta, which is a dark greenish-black. She will also clear the baby’s nose and mouth. And she will bite off the umbilical cord and eat the placenta.
After your cat gives birth and nurses her kittens for a couple of months, you will want to think seriously about having her spayed. Otherwise, she will frequently go into heat, and you may not like experiencing the excessive vocalizations some cats make during that time. More importantly, there are many more cats born than people to love and take care of them, so spaying is critical to stem feline overpopulation.