How To Tell Your Cat Is Pregnant
If you have a female cat, and your female cat was recently in heat, AND had access to an unneutered male cat, then there is a chance you have a pregnant kitty.
Or if you may have found a stray cat that is not acting like a typical cat. There is a chance your stray cat may be pregnant with even kittens.
A pregnant kitty queen will display both physical and personality changes that will become more evident around three weeks after breeding.
Cats pregnancy time, or the gestation period for cats, usually runs 64 to 66 days. So a typical gestation period is around 9 weeks, give or take a few days.
So let’s talk about how to tell your cat is pregnant!
6 Physical Changes in a Pregnant Cat
The most common signs of a pregnant cat is looking for obvious physical changes with your cat. 6 common signs that your cat’s body is going through the signs of pregnancy are:
- Heat cycles cease: For those of you who know what it’s like to deal with a cat in heat, then you know it is not something you “forget” about. If a cat has been going through heat cycles every 10 days to two weeks, and suddenly stops, it is likely she is pregnant. Watch your cats heat cycles if you have had your cat. If you just found the cat, this step may be harder, or impossible to see.
- Nipples swell and become rosier in color: One that you can start to look for whether you just found a cat, or have had your kitten for a while is checking their nipples. Breeders call this “pinking-up,” and it may be the first visual sign you will see in a pregnant cat.
- Appetite increases: Now, this one is hard to tell if you have a meaty cat, or if you just found a cat on the streets. However, a pregnant cat will show an increased interest in food. After all, a pregnant cat is not only eating for herself, but for several fetuses. Just like with pregnant women, pregnant kitties are HUNGRY!
- Weight gain: Most pregnant “queens” will gain about 2 to 4 pounds of body weight over the course of pregnancy. Again, this will be an obvious weight gain in a matter of weeks, not in a matter of months. So, if you notice your cat gaining weight quickly, chances on she’s pregnant.
- Vomiting: Pregnant cats may be subject to a few bouts of “morning sickness,” much as human mothers-to-be. You want to also check the weather and partner this with other physical symptoms. Vomiting cats can mean a lot of things, and pregnancy is only one of them. Regardless, vomiting is not necessarily a concern. However, if the vomiting continues or is frequent, contact your veterinarian for help.
- Enlarged abdomen: Sometime around the fifth week of pregnancy, a pregnant cat’s abdomen will start to swell noticeably. It will continue to enlarge until time for birthing. This is the most obvious and easiest to tell, especially if you have just found the cat.
Personality Changes in a Pregnant Cat
Physical traits are always the only way for you to tell if your cat is pregnant. A cat’s personality will change over the next weeks as they prepare for motherhood. Of course, these are hard to pin down if you have just found this cat and are still learning the personality. These character and mood changes can be indicative of pregnancy:
- Sleeping Patterns: Many pregnant cats will sleep for more hours in a day than before pregnancy. If you have a lazy cat, you want to look for them to be sleeping more than normal. Even my lazy cat will only “hibernate” for a few days at most before she’s ready to be back in on the action. If you cat is sleeping more than normal for her, pregnancy could be the reason.
- Increase in Affection: One of the most common signs you cat is pregnant is increased affection towards their owners. Your cat may become more affectionate than normal and frequently seek out your attention. They know their body is changing and something is happening. And they want you to give them the love and attention any pregnancy momma would want. By all means, you better give it to her!
When To Contact A Vet
Listen, we all know that we can get into our head sometimes. If you cat is showing some of the symptoms, it may be time to schedule a visit to the vet. And honestly, if you just found the stray cat, it is a good idea to take them for a checkup even if they aren’t showing signs of pregnancy.
It is an extremely good idea for your vet to examine your cat and make sure she is in good condition. Very similar to that of a human.
Some things your veterinarian will be looking for when examining your cat are the following:
- Ultrasound of Your Cat’s Abdomen: Like with humans, vets are able to ultrasound a cat’s belly and see the little kitty fetuses. Most ultrasounds may detect fetuses as early as the second week of pregnancy. However heartbeats usually aren’t detected until sometime after the third week.
- The Cat’s Abdomen: Your veterinarian may also go old school and feel your cats belly. Oftentimes they are able to feel your pregnant cat’s fetuses by palpating and gently pressing on her abdomen.
While this one is very common for vets, it is not always as accurate as the ultrasound. In addition, your vet may not be able to feel anything until weeks 2-3 of the pregnancy.
- X-rays: Finally, once your cat is far enough along in her pregnancy, vetsocan take a radiograph, or an X-Ray, of your cat’s abdomen. The X-Ray can determine the number of kittens she is carrying. Kitten spines and skulls begin to be visible on x-rays after about 42 days into the pregnancy. So X-Rays are typically done well into the gestation period of our furry friends.
There are some discussions about what to do once you do find out your cat is pregnant. And I will go into more detail. But like with human pregnancies, some hard decisions need to be made. How you will care for the kittens, how to find them homes, and most importantly what to do when the mother is going into labor.
Signs Your Cat Will Give Birth Soon
Around the 8-9 week mark if your pregnant kitty, you want to start helping prepare your cat for the miracle of kitten birth. I don’t think that’s a real statement, but I took my own little spin on childbirth.
It’s important to know the signs of a cat in labor prior to them actually being in labor. Once she is in labor, you want to try and give her enough space to feel comfortable. I usually recommend watching from a distance to make sure momma kitty is safe and not in distress.
These signs indicates kittens are on the way:
- Restlessness: I am convinced a mother knows when her babies are on their way. Even cat mommas. Typically around 24 to 48 hours before labor, your pregnant kitty may seem restless or anxious. She may go in and out of her nesting area, almost as if pacing. She knows its almost time.
- Increased Vocalization: If you have a very vocal cat, this sign may be a hard one to catch on. However, if you have a typically quiet cat, look for increased meowing or “talking”. I like to compare it to a pregnant woman pacing and talking to herself. “It’s happening! It’s happening!”
- Loss of Appetite: Oddly enough, even though your furbaby had an increased appetite for the first 9 weeks of pregnancy, the closer she gets to labor the more that will change. Cats typically have a dramatic decrease in appetitive right before they are about to give birth.
- Nesting Activities: As the birth gets closer, your pregnant cat may seek out quiet, private places for the birth to take place. I know a lot of people who have had cats deliver kittens like to offer up a closer or a laundry room with old clothes or towels. The cat feels safe with your smells and provides soft birthing for the new family members. Nesting typically begins up to two days prior to labor, but it may only begin a few hours prior.
- Lowered Body Temperature: Within 12 to 36 hours of labor, your cat’s body temperature will drop below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (normal temperature is usually between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit). If you have been taking your cats temperature regularly, this is most likely going to be one of your first signs. If not, this can sometimes be missed.
- Vulva Licking: As labor fast approaches, your cat will begin licking her vulva to clean a mild discharge. You will likely not see this discharge, as she will want to keep the area clean. You will also see her continue to lick this area as the babies start coming. This helps keep the babies clean and their area “sanitary” for her.
Pregnant cats are something you need to take seriously. Not only are you going from one cat to multiple cats, but you also want to keep your cat safe in the process.
Continue to have regular conversations with your veterinarian to look for the signs of pregnancy, and even the signs of labor in cats.
And cat mommas…your going to be cat grandparents! (Or continue being cat mommas, I am not really sure how that one works).