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Pregnant stray

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
After a month and a half of coaxing, we have finally gotten a litter of "dumped" but beautiful little black stray cats into our home. Originally there were three and I found homes for the first two, but I still have the smallest, most shy one. She has been living with us for about a month now. She is very small and I have been assuming she is only a kitten, but I have noticed in the last week that she is developing a round little pot belly. I've always gotten my cats spayed and neutered and have never experienced "heat" or kittens. Is there any way to know if she is pregnant? My husband is less than "thrilled".
post #2 of 18
First...Bravo to you for rescuing these kittens and finding homes (including your own) for them.

Now...on to your question.....I think your safest bet would be to let your vet check her to see whether she is pregnant.

Also, I know this sounds awful, but even if she is pregnant, she can be spayed. Of course this means she will lose the babies (if she is pregnant), but this may be better than bringing more "unwanted" kittens into the world.
post #3 of 18
My first thought when I read your post was that if she is that tiny, and presumably that young, her life may be at risk carrying a litter to term and delivering what could very well be already health compromised kittens. Female cats can go into heat as early as 4 months, and can get pregnant from that point.

I agree with Renae that a vet check would be the best bet. Also, has she been treated for worms since you brought her in? A pot-belly like that could be a sign of parasites.

I looked in the Breeders Corner and found this response about telling if a cat is pregnant:

Originally posted by KaiUKats
Their belly becomes round and firm when they are pregnant. Their nipples are also large and pink. They eat and sleep more, and are often found sleeping in VERY unusual places.

Their gestation period is only 9 weeks (63-65 being most common) so you will know soon.

post #4 of 18
Noelsmama, I don't have any better advice than to take her to a vet. If she isn't pregnant, she likely needs medical attention. She's apparently very young, but since she's at least 14 - 16 weeks old (she wouldn't have been eating on her own otherwise), she's already old enough to be spayed. Most vets recommend that they be spayed somewhere between 4 and 6 months (our vet recommends they be spayed or neutered when their first baby tooth falls out, which is within this time frame), but studies have shown that early age spay-neuter, as early as seven weeks, has no adverse affect on the cats. None. Here's a link to a thread that discusses it: Early Age Spay Neuter is Safe

I also wanted to add my thanks to you for rescuing these kittens! What a wonderful thing. I sure hope your baby isn't pregnant, but like lotsocats points out, spaying is still an option. It sounds cruel, but if she's that young, it really could jeapordize her life to let her go full term.

It's always so wonderful to know that such wonderful big hearts are out there!

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for such quick replies everybody! I had thought of worms, and we wormed them all before I sent them to new homes. We have a neighbor who is a small animal vet and he looked at her tonight.... and he laughed at me for calling her kitten. He looked at her teeth and said she's about eight months old. She's so little though, I was thinking more like four months old...especially since the litter was still together.

I talked to him about having her spayed and he said it was possible so I guess I'll call my vet in the morning. My husband is upset with me because I promised I would find a home for her and now we're spending this money...

I already have two pound kitties, a great pyrenees, a rabbit, a guinea pig and three horses... So I guess he has a reason to be mad at me but.... it was the right thing to do. My daughters are so upset that I would even consider getting rid of the kittens... I guess I shouldn't have admitted my suspensions in front of them...nobody's happy with me...oh well....
post #6 of 18
Maybe one of these clinics can help you take the bite out of the spaying cost

Low-cost Spay and Neuter
post #7 of 18
Good luck with the little sweetie! It is so wonderful that you took the kittens in and found homes! I hope the little girl isn't preggers, we had to get one cat fixed when she was pregant, it was really hard but I know it was for the best.
Two of our kittens (almost cats!) blizzy and trinny and both around 10 monthes old and very tiny. They both are about 5 pounds. Some cats are just little bitty things. Blizzy's brother nimbus is around 12 pounds!
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, a load of snow got dumped on Georgia this morning so we're not heading to the vet. These low-cost spay and neuter programs are great. Thanks so much for the help everybody.

The solution seems simple enough but I'm still really struggling with the aborted kittens issue - even laid awake about it overnight....My husband just stared at me last night when I suggested we spay her in spite of the pregnancy and told him about some of the low cost programs... Of course, I got a lecture on how she's not supposed to be ours in the first place and then...He said he couldn't believe I would do that - and he's the one who insists that he doesn't like cats. (I think mainly because our little girls are so upset.) We ended up in an argument... I can't believe this....

This morning, in effort to make up, he suggested that if we allowed her to have the kittens maybe we could provide early spay and neuter for the kittens before they are sent to their new homes. I can't believe he would even consider that....and would never have had the nerve to suggest it myself, knowing how he felt about bringing the stray kittens into our home in the first place.

He also said (not so happily) that we would just keep any that didn't find homes. This morning, as he was suggesting all of this, I wanted to say, "Who are you and what have you done with my husband?" Of course, he followed it up by saying, "...and if you bring another animal...even so much as a goldfish... into this house..."

I'm not settled on anything and feel like the "bad guy" especially in light of his generosity and my daughters' tears... I guess I'm glad to have another day to think about it. Who knew he had such strong convictions? He said, "Now you just need to deal with the consequences." I thought I WAS dealing with the consequences...

Anyway - "spay and neuter" has always been the way we've done things, I've never had to look at it from this angle and I KNOW where my vet will stand on the issue - spay. Of course, she'll want me to do it with her instead of through a low-cost program. Thanks for providing a place where I can talk about it though... I really appreciate it.

I guess there's still a chance that she's gotten chubby from all the spoiling and she's not pregnant at all....
post #9 of 18
It is a difficult call either way. In an ideal world we would never have to consider the option.

If you and your family can commit to possible vet care needed during and after the pregnancy (there is always the risk of complications with the birth, especially for one so small), and raising the kittens, and hopefully finding very good forever homes for them, and taking responsibility for them if you can't find homes...(all of which it sounds like your husband is willing to do ), then allowing the possible pregnancy to come to term is definitely an option. Of course, talk to your vet about it, she would be able to give you a better feel for if your girl is at higher risk by having the kittens. Also, if you do decide to let her have kittens, talk to your vet now about the possibility of a "group deal" on the future spay/neuters of the kittens and mom, and if she does early age S/N.

Will your kitty let you feel her tummy? A cat's gestational period is only about 2 months. So if you've had her indoors for a month, she's probably to the point where you would definitely be able to feel some changes. Are her nipples more prominent? Being very gentle, can you feel her tummy and see if you can feel kittens inside? That would be a pretty good give-away that she is pregnant even before you have a vet check her. Did your neighbor give you any indication one way or the other if he thought she is pregnant?
post #10 of 18
Oh Noelsmama, what happy, strange and sad news all at the same time!

Given hubby's strong feelings about spaying her if she's pregnant, I have to say unless he ends up agreeing its best for her because going full term may risk her life (being so small), it sounds like you may be needing advice on how to take care of mama while pregnant, and what to do once she's had the kittens! Don't worry - we can help there too.

It sounds like the best course of action is to get your vet's advice on her condition and her ability to have kittens if she's pregnant. And I'd just be honest with my vet about using a low-cost spay service if she recommends that to save her life she be spayed. If we were in that position, I'd tell my vet that there's nothing I'd want more than to be loyal to the family fur-kid doctor, but because she's a rescue and an extension of a pretty large fur family already (which the vet already gets the business for), and there's been some friction because of the costs involved.... I'm sure she or he will understand. (You can always make hubby the "bad" guy if that makes you more comfortable - of COURSE you'd want to use him/her to perform the spay, but hubby insists you use a low-cost service....) Just keep in mind that you never know what might come out of that discussion. Our vet does not have low-cost spay/neuter services, but because of our rescue work, they only charged us $35 for the most recent male we brought in to be neutered! Vets understand well family conflict, budget problems, and will often try to help in animal rescue situations. But if she's going full term, then she'll need to see the vet every once in a while, and I'm sure your vet will understand.

BTW - people frequently call vets looking for kittens, so your vet may be able to help you place the kittens, if it comes to that.

If kitty is pregnant, and if the vet says she'll do fine going full term, then if you'd like to continue the discussion with your hubby about spaying her despite being pregnant (if that's the case), please feel free to visit . We have a lot of information up about the terrible problem of animal homelessness in the U.S., and if he understand the extent of the problem, that will present a different moral dilmna in allowing her to have the kittens. It's really hard to choose when one feels that strongly about the value of life. What's more important? Unborn life or homeless life? It's really difficult, and there is no "right" answer. I don't think further fighting between you is worth it though! I think it's absolutely wonderful that he feels strongly enough about it that he's willing to pay to have the kittens early spay-neutered before going to new homes. Despite the fight you had, it's obvious he's got a big heart and wants to figure out the right thing to do.

My hubby was an actual cat-hater when the first stray turned up here. He was willing to help her out (initially) because she was always making a mess of the garbage. Of course, over time, she "grew" on him. And it turned out she wasn't the only one around here. She'd wormed her way into his heart by the time kittens (not hers, she'd been spayed) turned up in our yard.... Now, 3 1/2 years later... we have five rescued cats living with us, we've spayed/neutered and found homes for something like 30 cats, we've spayed and neutered and returned back outside something like 12 cats, rehomed six of those to barns, and.... he's so proud of his fur family he carries their pics around in his wallet! Go figure THAT one, LOL!

And all of this may be moot. She may just be showing the signs of being spoiled!

Please let us know what the vet says when you get a chance to go. That's probably the next best step (sorry about the late snowstorm! UGH! WHEN WILL IT END?!?!). Here's hoping she's not pregnant! But if she is, I'm really curious what your vet says about her ability to carry to term while being so small.

(((((Hugs)))) for the rough night - and maybe a few more rocky days.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
You guys are great! I never could have imagined such a friendly, helpful and non-judgmental board. I'm a die-hard "spay" and "neuter" person so I was alittle apprehensive to post the possibility that we may choose not to spay her right now.

I talked to my vet buddy next door just a few minutes ago and he was really wonderful. He says she looks healthy and that she's probably just a little cat... actually told me I was just used to the size of our other cats that have always been larger breeds types. She weighs about 6 pounds. (My other two weigh 12 -15 and our riding barn cats are all HUGE Main Coons) He told me he always thinks the best thing to do is spay them and told me about a discount program in our area - right around the corner from the house. I have an appointment Monday with our regular vet, so I guess we'll see.

Neighbor said it seems likely that her physical changes are pregnancy. She's got a tight little round belly and I can feel her nipples - something which I've never been able to feel before. She's very lazy and wants to be in weird places like my closet or under my bed which is unusual for her. She also seems alittle more grumpy about being handled.

I suppose its still possible that its parasites though. Can she be wormed during pregancy? I could only dream that my husband would love all these critters. The cats get on his nerves I know, but he's pretty good about it. I wish I could post pictures - all of yours are so great. I have a really funny new one of my Great Pyrenees with both of our calicos lying on his back together.

Thanks for just letting me vent....we'll see what the vet says.
post #12 of 18
Since you don't know exactly when she conceived, you may want to make arrangements just in case she has babies before you can get her to the vet. Just to be safe, you know? I haven't ever had a pregnant female, but what you just described sounds a lot like what I've read from people here whose kitties were just about ready.

Get a box that she can get into and put some old towels or linens that you don't care about into it. If she seems to like the closet, I would put the box in there. Hopefully she will take to it if she is really close.

Oh, and worming....generally not a good thing if she's pregnant or nursing. Wormers are poison, and would most likely kill any fetuses she has.
post #13 of 18
Noelsmama, most of us on TCS are die-hard pro-"speuter" too. But we also have breeders that participate here - and though NONE of us promote breeding of plain old domestic short hairs of mixed breed - especially pets or rescues - and especially ferals - we all (try) to realize that sometimes we have to face these moral decisions - and not everyone's going to come out on the side of spaying a pregnant female.

It does sound like she's acting like she's near term. Like Heidi ("valanhb") pointed out, pregnancy is only nine weeks. You should probably take Heidi's advice until you get her to the vet Monday, just in case.

Any questions you have about how to care for mom and kittens, if she has the babies, will be answered quickly in the Health forum. They should not be handled at first, mom should be cleaning them (and feeding them).

One thing hubby should know - they really need a minimum of 12 weeks with mum before they're adopted out. Whether or not you decide to early spay/neuter them, they'll need vaccinations - but you can also discuss all of this with your vet.

Got my fingers crossed!
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well - wonders never cease - my vet popped in for me this morning - I just love her.... She had gotten my call, knew our dog was almost due for his heartworm shot and we have a new horse as well since she's last been here, she was already going to be in the area, so she came on before her other calls....

Alas, she believes our kitty is pregnant although there's no babies moving around yet. She did say it is possible that its a false pregnancy but didn't seem hopeful. An ultrasound would tell for sure, but theres no point in that as only time will tell and she's inside, so won't be getting pregnant in the meantime. She gave her a rabies shot and then we sat down and talked for about ten minutes over a cup of coffee. It was unbelievable. I saw and heard a side of her that I didn't know existed.

I felt so guilty that I had not heeded her warning when the kittens were wild in the first place, I dreaded even talking to her. But she laughed with me and understood when I reminded her that I had received a nasty bite (that became infected) from one of the SWEET kittens, trying to rescue the first two. I had a hard time working up the courage to deal with this one.... Her schedule and mine will not allow her to spay our kitty for another week and a half, but she did seem to understand if we wanted to take her somewhere else.

....Then the conversation took a surprising turn. I already knew she was the founder of a stray program in our area and that her clinic always had animals for adoption because of it. So, I felt confident that she would probably be fine with spaying a pregant cat. She made no comments when giving me the facts about the spaying schedule, but when I told her I was REALLY strugging with the decision, the conversation took on a much more personal nature as she described the number of pregnant animals (once, one cat was actually IN LABOR) that had been brought to her by their owners to be spayed.

Early in her career, trying to appease her clients, she attempted to do what was asked of her and described how litters of well-developed and healthy baby animals were delivered on her table and allowed to suffocate in their little sacks. Something snapped one day when a dog, nearly full term, was brought in one day and the litter of plump and wriggling puppies were laying out across her table. She said she just couldn't bring herself to let them die. Her whole team dove in a save the whole litter, successfully finding homes for them all. In fact, one of the dogs that we enjoy visiting as one of the "office pets" each time we're at the clinic is one from that litter.

There have been many, many kittens and puppies "delivered" via spaying since then that she and her team had been told to "let die" by owners that were (for the most part, secretly) saved, nursed around the clock, and placed in homes. In the end, she said, it has made her a STRONGER advocate for spaying and neutering because of the amount of work involved in saving these babies. I was really overwhelmed by her compassion and dedication. I wish I could remember exactly what she said...something like, "You're still being a responsible pet owner. Its just a different kind of responsibility."

I feel so much better now and will do my best to provide for this little family... all is well with hubby since he doesn't see why I was so worried about it in the first place. At least until we get the vet bill that is.....probably one that will say...

Home visit $30.00
exam - dog 15.00
exam - cat 15.00
exam - horse 15.00
rabies 12.00
heart worm 25.00
psychiatric counseling 10 minutes 150.00

post #15 of 18
Wow, it sounds like you have an amazing vet!!!! And I'm glad your decision has been made, and you are at total peace with it. That you struggled so much with it tells me a lot about the strength of your character, and I'm glad your vet was able to really have a heart to heart about it.

Sssssoooooo, congratulations - it sounds like you are going to be a kitty granny!
post #16 of 18
Wow! I want to move to Georgia just so she can be my vet too! She sounds amazing.

I also think that you are pretty amazing as well. I am so glad that there are people in the world like you!
post #17 of 18
I echo the sentiments of both Heidi and Renae. I'm not surprised your vet stopped by - she's obviously an amazing woman, and you obviously are too.

I also think it wonderful of hubby to not only be OK with this but to support it.

post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks everybody! You guys have been sooooo supportive..
This has to be the friendliest web board I've ever seen.
I'm pretty proud of my husband, and I've always loved my vet.

Kitty is pretty grumpy though - last night my husband started to pick her up and she scratched him. Yikes!!! I hope she doesn't do that again, or he might not be so charitable.
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