How To Tell If A Cat Is Pregnant
The most common time of the year for kittens to be born is the spring and early summer. Female cats that are not spayed can easily get pregnant if they slip outside for even just a short amount of time. Any female cat that is 6 months of age or older can become pregnant.
If you find a stray female cat outside, there is a good chance she could be pregnant. Just know that you may have new kittens coming soon.
If you are expecting your cat to have kittens or have a suspicion she may be pregnant, here are some things you can watch out for that can help you determine whether or not she is pregnant.
Signs Your Cat Is Pregnant
It is not always easy to tell if a cat is pregnant. It will depend on how many kittens are developing inside of them, their own health status, and how far along they are. In fact, you may not be able to see visual signs of pregnancy until your cat is almost near the due date.
A good sign your cat is not pregnant is if it has been more than 9 weeks since you thought your cat got pregnant or since you started noticing things that made you think she was pregnant. This is because cats are pregnant for only about 63 days until they go into labor.
You can use our cat pregnancy calculator to help you determine her due date, but only if you have a general idea of when she first mated. Otherwise, you will have to rely on signs of pregnancy and a visit to your veterinarian to confirm your suspicion.
Here are seven things you may notice that could indicate your cat is pregnant:
1.) Behavior Changes
Pregnant cats may all of a sudden have a change in their normal behavior. For instance, if your cat is usually timid and doesn’t like to be pet, they may become more social and affectionate with all of the pregnancy hormones floating around in their bloodstream. Pregnant cats are usually affection-seekers for sure.
They may also act hungrier than usual. Since pregnant cats can produce upwards of 8-10 kittens, their body is in need of extra nutrition and energy throughout pregnancy.
Your cat may also start looking for quiet, dark, comfortable places to give birth. Nesting behavior is fairly common as they get closer to the time of delivery. If the cat you suspect is pregnant is also an outside cat, you may not even see her for a few days when she starts to give birth.
They are great at finding the best, safest hiding spots. She will reappear when she feels comfortable bringing the kittens out into the world, closer to where her food is kept.
2.) Enlarged Mammary Glands
This will vary cat to cat, but some cats will start to get an engorgement of their mammary glands while they are pregnant. They may even leak a little milk. For other cats, the mammary glands won’t engorge until after they give birth.
3.) Change in Color to Their Nipples
A pregnant cat’s nipples (also referred to as teats) will often get thicker and even become darker in color as the pregnancy progresses. You may notice this easily on a cat with light-colored fur. If you cat is darker in color, you may not notice it at all.
Just like people, pregnant cats may have some nausea and vomiting associated with their pregnancy. If your cat has never really been one to vomit, but starts vomiting and you notice these other listed signs, there is a chance she could be pregnant.
5.) Distended Abdomen
As the pregnancy progresses, your cat’s belly will get larger and larger. If you notice the color change to her nipples and/or thickening of her mammary glands, you can be fairly certain she is pregnant if her belly beings to protrude.
However, there are certain medical conditions that can cause cats’ bellies to swell up that have nothing to do with pregnancy. If you are not sure your cat is pregnant, it is always best to take them in to your vet for an exam to make sure nothing else is going on.
Another reason to take your cat to the vet if you think she is pregnant is do imaging to confirm the pregnancy, rule out other conditions, and see how many kittens to expect. Your vet can use an ultrasound, if they have one, to see if kittens are present.
After your cat is past day 45 of their pregnancy, it is recommended to have an x-ray done at your vet’s office so they can count how many kittens there are. This will help you know and be aware if she may need medical attention during the delivery process.
Caring for a Pregnant Cat
If you confirm your cat is pregnant, there are a few things you should do to help her stay healthy throughout the pregnancy. It is also a good idea to keep track of dates, know when she first got pregnant and to follow our cat pregnancy calendar. For the most part, you will care for your cat the same was as before with a few changes. Changes such as extra water, food and love is all a cat needs during her pregnancy.
Her nutritional and energy needs will be about 25% higher during pregnancy. Keep her fed often, and mix in some kitten food with her regular food. Once she delivers the kittens, she will need to be fed kitten food to help her body keep up with having to nurse all of her kittens.
Keep plenty of fresh, easily accessible water available. This is especially important if she is pregnant during the hot summer months and an outside cat. Maintaining adequate hydration is very important for her health during the pregnancy period.
Have her examined by your veterinarian. As mentioned before, this will help confirm the pregnancy and let you know how many kittens to expect. Ideally she would have already had all of her necessary vaccines prior to becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, pregnant cats should not be vaccinated as it could harm the kittens.
Also, if you have any issues with fleas you need to get them under control now. Ask your vet if there is a safe flea preventative medication you can give to your pregnant cat. Fleas reproduce quickly and can drain a kitten of their blood within 24 hours. It is not uncommon for newborn kittens to die quickly of flea anemia.
Preventing Pregnancy in Cats
The best thing to do to avoid your female cat from becoming pregnant is to get her spayed. As long as you spay her before she is 5-6 months old, you should not have anything to worry about.
As you may already know, there are so many cats roaming around and in shelters that need forever homes. That is why it is so important to spay your cat as soon as they are old enough, assuming they are healthy enough for it.
Leslie Brooks graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. After graduation she moved to Indianapolis to do an intensive one-year internship at a specialty practice and then began working as a small animal general practitioner. She ran her own house call practice for three years, visiting pets in people’s homes. Currently, she works part time in clinical practice and volunteering her free time to serve pets of the homeless. Read more about us here.