Most cat owners are concerned with the health and well-being of their cat. This concern will naturally increase when your cat becomes pregnant or is nursing young kittens. Just as with people, a pregnant or nursing cat can pass certain substances to her kittens, either through the placenta or her breast milk. Some substances can harm or even kill the kittens. This is especially true of medications you might administer to the mother cat. Before giving your cat any drug, you should first consider the effect it may have on the kittens.
With very few exceptions, you should avoid all medication in pregnant or nursing cats. There may be instances where a medication that might prove harmful to the kittens may be necessary to save the mother, but this decision should always be made by a qualified veterinarian.
There are some drugs which must be absolutely avoided in all pregnant and nursing cats. Most of these will have adverse effects on the kittens and may also harm the mother. Some of these drugs include:
- All antacids
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Diphehydramine (Benadryl)
- Famotidine (Pepcid)
- Natural Penicillins
- Ranitidine (Zantac)
Keep in mind that many items that you may administer to your cat regularly may present a danger to your cat or her kittens. Most flea and tick medications (and collars) are actually dangerous to kittens, so talk to your vet about possible alternatives. Some creams and shampoos than cat owners use frequently also carry warnings specific to pregnant and nursing cats, so read the packages carefully, and ever be afraid to ask your vet about specific ingredients.
Many cat owners are tempted to simply switch to a homeopathic or organic medication. Do this with caution and only after consulting a qualified veterinarian. A ‘natural’ remedy may also not be safe for consumption during pregnancy, and the effects of these medications on cats may not yet be known.
It is important to take the initiative when discovering what is or is not safe for your cat and her kittens. Don’t be afraid to call the manufacture of the medication in question and ask directly about any studies that may have been done regarding pregnant or nursing cats. Your vet may do this for you, but if he doesn’t, do it yourself. The manufacturer may have information that your vet is not yet privy to, or your vet may simply be too busy to spend an hour on the phone trying to get a straight answer from the manufacturer.
The safety of your pregnant or nursing cat is ultimately your responsibility. You will have to ensure that she is safe and healthy, and this means understanding which medications or drugs might harm her or her kittens. Read labels, ask questions, and when in doubt, don’t give it to her.