How Do You Tell If your Cat Is Pregnant?

How Do You Tell If your Cat Is Pregnant?


Kittens are probably one of the cutest things in the world, but they might not always be feasible. If your cat is fertile, then it is important to keep an eye out for pregnancy. It'll help you plan for the future and make sure your feline friend has the best possible pregnancy.

Pregnancy symptoms

Cats have a short gestation period of only 9 weeks. As such, they start showing signs of pregnancy openly pretty soon after they get pregnant. Here are a few basic symptoms to look out for:

  • Enlarged nipples that are red is a sign of both the cat being in heat and a sign of pregnancy. The key is to look for milk secretion as a telling sign of pregnancy.
  • Since cats show early, if you look at a pregnant cat from the side you will see a bulging abdomen. Avoid touching the belly as you may hurt the mother or the unborn kittens. Overweight cats usually gain weight all over and not just the abdomen.
  • Nesting behavior is where female cats find quiet places and start arranging materials to create a “nest” for the babies.
  • Pregnant cats tend to have increased appetites as they get further along in the pregnancy.
  • Seeking extra attention and being more open to it is also a sign of pregnancy.
  • In some cases, cats have their own version of morning sickness, where they vomit. If this becomes too frequent, take your cat to the vet.

The only way to confirm her pregnancy 100% is to take her to the vet.

Caring for a pregnant cat

As mentioned before, cats will have an increased appetite when they are pregnant. Make sure that she has easy access to food in these stages. Your vet might also suggest that you add chow or kitten food into her diet when she is close to her due date and when she's lactating after birth.Avoid vaccinations and medicines, even for deworming, before consulting your vet about it.

Vaccination might be necessary in some cases as viruses can spread to kittens in the womb. Once the vet gives you the go ahead, you can stick to her schedule for regular vaccinations. Ideally, it is recommended to vaccinate your cat right before she starts breeding.

As your cat gets further into her pregnancy and is close to going into labor, keep her inside as much as possible. This will prevent her from forming nesting patterns outside and make sure that she gives birth under your care and supervision. You can even create a “nest” for her and keep her litter, food, and bed close at all times.

Frequently Asked Questions

How soon can you tell if a cat is pregnant?

Determining if a female cat is pregnant can be challenging in the first few weeks, but there are early signs and specific symptoms to look for in cat pregnancy. During the initial stages of a cat's pregnancy, especially in the first week, it is nearly impossible to tell if the cat is pregnant. According to an article reviewed by Dr. Amy Flowers, DVM, A pregnant cat’s belly will get bigger about 30 days after mating. One of the first signs of feline pregnancy is a change in the nipples. Around the third week of pregnancy, the nipples of an unspayed female cat may become more prominent, pink, and swollen. This phenomenon is often referred to as "pinking up."

Pregnant and lactating cats may exhibit noticeable behavioral changes. A female cat might become more affectionate, seeking extra attention and comfort from her owner. Conversely, some cats may become more reclusive and prefer solitude. Gradual weight gain is another symptom that indicates a cat might be pregnant. This weight gain is more pronounced as the pregnancy progresses, and the cat's abdomen will become more rounded and firm.

A cat’s body temperature can also provide clues. During pregnancy, the cat's normal body temperature might slightly drop. However, this is not a definitive method for confirming pregnancy and should be observed alongside other symptoms. In the first few weeks of a cat's pregnancy, monitor these changes closely. While early signs such as nipple changes and behavioral shifts can suggest pregnancy, they are not conclusive. If you suspect your cat is pregnant, a visit to the veterinarian is essential. The vet can perform an ultrasound or other diagnostic tests to confirm the pregnancy.

Will a pregnant cat let you touch her belly?

A pregnant cat's behavior can vary widely, especially when it comes to allowing humans to touch her belly. Some pregnant and lactating cats may tolerate or even enjoy gentle belly rubs. However, Dr. Rachel Geller says some cats do not like belly rubs inherently and might become more protective of their abdomen. The cat's belly becomes more sensitive and distended as she nears the end of her pregnancy, which can influence her willingness to be touched.

If you are trying to touch a mother cat's belly, observe her reactions closely. If she seems relaxed and comfortable, she might allow you to touch her. However, if she shows signs of discomfort or aggression, it's best to refrain from touching her belly. During a visit to the vet for a pregnant cat, the veterinarian might handle the cat's belly to check the health of the kittens and the mother cat. 

How many months is a cat pregnant for?

A female cat is pregnant for approximately two months. Dr. Jamie Lovejoy, DVM, says pregnant cats usually have a gestation period of around 63 to 65 days, which is just over two months. Feline pregnancy can be broken down into five stages, with each stage playing a crucial role in the development of the kittens. During the first few weeks of cat pregnancy, the fertilized eggs implant in the uterus, and the embryos begin to develop. These first few weeks are critical for the initial growth and development of the kittens.

As the pregnancy progresses through the few weeks, the kittens develop rapidly, and by the final two weeks of the cat's pregnancy, they are almost fully formed and ready for birth. The first stage of pregnancy involves the fertilization and implantation of the embryos, and by the first week, the embryos are starting to grow. A female cat can have multiple litters in her lifetime, and the number of kittens in each litter can vary. How many kittens a female cat can have depends on factors such as her age, health, and breed. Pregnant and lactating cats need special care and nutrition to ensure the health of both the mother and her kittens.

How can I test my cat's pregnancy at home?

Testing your cat's pregnancy at home can provide early insights, but it's essential to involve veterinary care for accurate confirmation and proper guidance. In the first few weeks of feline pregnancy, there might be subtle changes. Look for behavioral changes such as increased affection, nesting behavior, or even irritability.  Dr. Bartley Harrison, DVM, says that nipple changes, like enlargement and pinkening, can also be early indicators.

A pregnant cat's body temperature may drop slightly below 100°F (37.8°C) around 12-24 hours before labor. You can monitor the rectal temperature with a thermometer. Observe your cat's weight over time. A pregnant cat typically gains weight gradually during pregnancy, but it's not always noticeable until later stages. Provide extra food and nutrients to support your cat's needs during pregnancy. High-quality kitten food or specialized cat food for pregnant and lactating cats can be beneficial. 

Ensure it's rich in essential nutrients like protein and calcium. Monitor for other signs such as increased appetite, enlarged abdomen, and even changes in vocalization.

While not feasible at home, an ultrasound performed by a veterinarian can detect pregnancy as early as 15-18 days post-breeding. X-rays can confirm pregnancy around 45 days after conception. They can also estimate litter size and due date. However, exposure to radiation makes this option one for veterinary professionals to handle. Schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian who has experience in feline pregnancy. They can provide accurate diagnosis, guidance on nutrition, and ensure the well-being of your cat and her kittens.

How does a pregnant cat act?

During a cat's pregnancy, her behavior may undergo noticeable changes. Over the first few weeks of pregnancy, a cat may begin to gain weight as her body prepares for the arrival of her kittens. This weight gain is normal as her body undergoes changes to support the growing fetuses. You may notice other behavioral changes in a pregnant cat. These can include increased affection towards her human companions or changes in her activity level. Some cats may become more vocal or seek out more attention as they progress through their pregnancy.

As the pregnancy progresses, a cat may become more subdued and spend more time resting. This is normal as her body works hard to support the growing kittens, and she may seek out quieter areas to relax. A pregnant cat's nutritional needs increase during pregnancy. Providing her with extra food and ensuring she has access to a balanced diet rich in nutrients is important to support both her and her growing kittens. She may also require additional nutrients to support her own health and the development of her offspring.

Providing a pregnant cat with high-quality cat food formulated for pregnant and lactating cats is essential. These diets are designed to meet the increased nutritional demands of pregnancy and lactation, providing the extra nutrients necessary for her health and the health of her kittens. As she approaches the end of her pregnancy, a pregnant cat may exhibit nesting behaviors, such as seeking out a quiet corner or a relaxing area to prepare for birth. This can include rearranging bedding or seeking out secluded spots to create a cozy environment for her impending litter.

In some cases, a pregnant cat's body temperature may drop slightly shortly before she goes into labor. This drop in temperature can be a sign that labor is imminent and can help you prepare for the upcoming birth.

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