How to Tell if Your Cat is Pregnant?

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“Is my cat pregnant?” It’s a question commonly asked by many concerned cat owners. Whether you’re new to cat pregnancy or a seasoned pro, you’ll know just how precious they are. 

Having kittens can bring a whole lot of excitement and emotional time for cat parents and their pregnant cats. Though one thing is for sure if you haven’t gotten your female cat spayed and had access to an intact (unneutered) male cat, chances are that your cat might be pregnant. 

Your pregnant cat will show physical and personality changes that will become more apparent around three weeks of breading.

But, how do you really know for sure? This is how to tell if your cat is pregnant. There are a few tell-tale signs to watch out for–such as knowing how to tell if a cat is pregnant and what you can do to ensure her pregnancy will be healthy–during the short gestation period. 

Signs That Your Cat is Pregnant

Just like humans, cats have some tell-tale indications of being pregnant from the body to mood changes. Cats likely won’t show any signs and symptoms of pregnancy in the first few weeks so if you do think your cat could have kittens on the way, it’s necessary to bring her to your trusted, local vet for confirmation. Here’s how to tell if your cat is pregnant the traditional way:

Morning Sickness

Just like humans, cats can experience a few bouts of “morning sickness” during pregnancy. She might go through a phase of lethargy or vomiting. It’s important to keep an eye on her, though. If the vomiting is frequent or still continues, contact your vet immediately.

Increased Appetite

Another sign of pregnancy is a change in your cat’s appetite. Although this varies in every cat. Your “queen” could suddenly refuse to eat and go off her food, or your cat may begin to eat everything and anything in her sight.

Nevertheless, any drastic change to her eating habits could be a sign of a pregnant cat, so it’s necessary to recognize how often, how much, and what food your queen is eating.

Typically, they will likely show an increased interest in food about 1.5 times their normal diet since she’s not only feeding herself. An increased appetite will also contribute to her weight gain.

A mum-to-be will usually have a weight gain of between 1-2 kg (depending on how many kittens she is carrying). If her belly is swollen and rounded, then this is a strong sign your cat is pregnant.

Though, sometimes, your cat’s increased appetite could also be a sign of illness or worms, so you have to check with your vet to confirm.

How Long are Cats Pregnant

Nesting Behavior

Around two weeks before her due date (near the end of the pregnancy), you’ll notice your cat scoping out a secluded, quiet place and comfortable nesting area in a nearby barn or around the house.

She’ll likely be dragging soft blankets, straw, old towels, or scrap paper to make a cozy spot to birth her kittens.

If you observe this nesting behavior, help her out, and line a cardboard box with towels or newspapers for your cat to use.

Affectionate Behavior

Many pet owners say that they observe an increase in affectionate behavior in their cats. From early on in their pregnancy a pregnant cat may become more maternal, meaning that she seeks extra fuss, purrs more, and attention from you due to her hormones and neurological changes.

However, it’s important to watch how you handle her and it should be with care. Avoid stroking your pregnant cat’s stomach as it can be uncomfortable and sensitive for her, as well as possibly unsafe for her unborn kittens.

Also, avoid lifting her up unless it’s completely necessary, and if you have to do so steer clear of her belly and it’s best to scoop her up under her bottom. Again, if your cat frequently seeks out your attention, then give it to her.

Physical Changes

Heat cycles cease: This is probably the first visual sign that you may notice in your cat’s pregnancy. If your feline pet has been experiencing heat cycles every 10 days to two weeks and then stops all of the sudden, it’s likely your cat is pregnant.

Darkened Nipples: In approximately two to three weeks (15-18 days), the cat’s nipples will become red-colored and enlarged–known as “pinking up.” They might look fully engorged and darker especially if she’s had more than one litter. However, nipples might not be easy to spot under a layer of a cat with dark fur.

Swollen Abdomen: Halfway through the cat gestation period (around the fifth week of pregnancy), your queen’s belly will start to swell noticeably and it will continue to enlarge until her birthing time.

So avoid touching it so you don’t risk hurting your cat or her unborn kittens. This distortion may be difficult to notice on overweight cats. And there can be other reasons behind abdominal swelling, so keep an eye on your cat for any signs of illness and if you’re worried, consult your vet.

How Long is a Cat Pregnant for

Sure Ways A Vet Can Tell If Your Cat Is Pregnant

If the previous signs of your cat’s pregnancy are evident and have had regular veterinary care, it may not be needed to get an official diagnosis from a vet. 

Still, it’s a good idea for a veterinarian to examine them to tell if a cat is pregnant and make sure she is in good condition by using one of these strategies:

Ultrasound

An ultrasound may detect fetuses as early as 15 days into her term, and heartbeats may be detected sometimes after the third week. 

The vet may also be able to provide you an indication of the number of kittens your cat is expecting by the 40th day of her pregnancy. 

Remember that in a cat pregnancy, smaller kittens can be obscured by a larger kitten in the womb, so you may have more kittens than expected.

X-Rays

Your vet can take a radiograph of your pet’s abdomen about 40 days into the cat pregnancy. During this time, kittens’ skulls and spines begin to be visible. It’s also the best way to determine the number of kittens she is carrying. 

Though, you don’t have to worry because this is just a minor amount of radiation and it is not harmful to the mother or to the kittens.

Feeling the Abdomen

In around the 20th day of pregnancy, an experienced vet may be able to feel the pregnant cat’s fetuses by gently pressing and palpating on her abdomen.

How to Prepare for Your Cat’s Pregnancy?

You might be excited, nervous, or confused at the same time about how to help prepare your pregnant cat for birth [1]. 

While giving birth in the feline species has been in relative safety, there are a few things you can do to ensure your cat’s smooth delivery and prepare yourself for what to approach prior to your cat’s birth.

Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally. This is a very important factor in a safe kitten delivery. The mother cat can sense it if you are stressed. Keep calm no matter what happens and learn about what to expect when cats give birth over the course of the pregnancy.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to physically help your cat deliver her babies, just take a step back and look after her, pay attention to any signs while she’s running into trouble.

Getting ready for the big day. Soon, your beloved tabby will become a mother herself. You may spend a lot of time trying to prepare for her delivery. But for some, this can still come as a surprise. Here are a few key signs to know if your pregnant cat is in or about to go into labor:

  • Restlessness – Approximately 24-48 hours before her labor, your pregnant cat may seem anxious or restless, pacing around her nesting grounds.
  • Vocalization – Your pregnant cat might begin to cry and become vocal more than usual.
  • Temperature changes – Within 12-36 hours before giving birth, her body temperature will drop below 38°C, so make sure to have a thermometer ready.
  • Loss of appetite – In the run-up to giving birth, your cat may have a drastic decrease in appetite and stop eating food altogether.

When the time has come and your queen is showing signs of labor, that will be the time to put all your research into practice and help her safely deliver her new kittens into the world.

How to tell if a cat is Pregnant

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Kittens Can A Cat Have In One Litter?

Typically, there are between one to 10 kittens in a litter. First-time cat moms tend to give birth to smaller litters of two or three young cats.

Adult cats tend to have small litters as well. Sometimes, it also may depend on the breed. Persian cats, for example, tend to have smaller litters whereas Siamese cats tend to have big litters.

Nonetheless, it’s a smart idea to consult with your vet to confirm the actual number of kittens using an x-ray before your cat gives birth.

At What Age Can A Cat Get Pregnant?

A cat can get pregnant as young as four months old. That is why it’s necessary to get cats spayed early on to prevent unexpected cat pregnancies.

A female cat may usually experience “heat” around that time. Unlike humans, cats don’t experience menopause. They can become pregnant up to three times a year (for fertile cats). They can keep getting pregnant until the last few years of their life.

How Long Is A Cat’s Pregnancy?

A cat’s pregnancy or the gestation period for cats runs between 63 to 67 days, though it can vary from as short as 61 days to as long as 72 days. You could regard 63 days, or nine weeks, as an average gestation period. Most often, a cat won’t show signs of pregnancy until two or three weeks into the term.

Can You Use A Pregnancy Test On A Cat?

No, you can’t use a pregnancy test on a cat. The pregnancy test that is made for humans won’t indicate whether kittens are on the way. There is a species-specific test made especially for cats. If you want to check it out, you need to talk with your vet about how to use it.

Conclusion

Theoretically, a healthy mama cat is equaled to healthy kittens so it’s wise to make sure your queen is as fit as a fiddle before falling pregnant.

Generally, making sure your kitty is up-to-date with all her vaccinations is a proper way to start before you can welcome those bundles of fur into your home–as a mother passes on her immunity and nutrition to her kittens in her milk.

Moreover, don’t forget to get your kittens the appropriate cat insurance to guarantee they will all be covered from 8 weeks old.

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