How to tell if your cat
is pregnant?

Updated on

 

This article will give you some practical tips on how to tell if your cat is pregnant. We will also advise you on the best ways to care for your cat during her pregnancy.

Is your cat pregnant time after time?

ginger cat pregnant

Cats are great in breeding efficiency. They are able to get pregnant easily due to being induced ovulators. After giving birth to kittens, female cats have the ability to immediately get pregnant again afterward. If you are planning to limit the number of kittens in your household, you may consider spaying your cat after her first pregnancy or before she goes into heat and has the ability to reproduce. Consult your veterinarian for further questions.

Too many litters can affect the health of the mother and even her kittens. This can also be an added cost for the family. If unable to care for the welfare of the queen (female cat) and all of her litters, it is a good idea to have your cat spayed.

How long is a cat's pregnancy?

A cat’s gestation length is between 58-67 days (3 months). Physical changes of a pregnant cat are barely noticeable until a few weeks into her gestation period. 

Although, for some cat breeds, the gestation period may vary from 61 to 72 days.

Your cat will eventually start to show certain pregnancy behaviors. By reading this article, you will readily know if your cat is pregnant after 2 or 3 weeks have elapsed.

Things needed to prepare if your cat is nearing birth

  • Newspaper, towels, and blankets

Mixed breed cat laying

How can you tell if your cat is pregnant?

If your cat has not been spayed, and she is currently in heat, your cat may be pregnant. When cats reach 4-6 months of age, they become able to procreate or go into heat to become pregnant. This is variable depending on cat species.

There are physical changes that will happen if your cat is pregnant:

About 2 weeks into the pregnancy, your cat will start to show signs. All mammal pregnancy symptoms are similar. With cats, you will notice weight gain but mostly in the abdomen. The queen will have swollen nipples as well and they will start to become more enlarged the further along she gets into her pregnancy. This may also be an indication she is in heat so keep monitoring her to see. Your female cat will also experience a swollen abdomen along with weight gain. Nearing the end of gestation, she will start to “nest.” This means she is looking for a quiet, safe place to go into labor and give birth.  If she is this far along it is a good idea to have a nice, warm, safe, quiet spot for her to give birth. It is wise to seek advice from your licensed veterinarian for further instructions on what to do to make your cat most comfortable. Ideally, it is best to have an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy and seek medical attention through the stages of your cat’s pregnancy.

1. Verify if your cat is fertile

If your cat is currently in heat, it's quite possible that she could be already pregnant. Domestic female cats are seasonally polyestrous. Normally cats go into heat in February through October (spring and fall). Your cat will go through an estrous cycle (going into heat) when she is sexually mature. This usually occurs between 4-6 months of age.

2. Notice some physical changes on your cat

Fifteen to eighteen days (15-18) into her pregnancy, you will notice that your cat's nipples are becoming bloated and pinkish in color. This is called pinking up. However, enlarging nipples may also be indicative of heat and may still not confirm pregnancy.

Pregnant feline also shows swaybacked posture, with its bulging abdomen and slightly a round tummy. If your cat is becoming overweight, she will be bulging all over her body. It is important to know the signs of a pregnant cat versus an overweight one.

3. Your queen may suffer morning sickness

Just like any other mammals, cats can also experience morning sickness. Your cat may experience vomiting once in a while during her period of pregnancy. If this becomes frequent and uncontrollable, contact your veterinarian immediately.

4. Swelling of abdomen

When you notice that your cat's tummy is swelling, be gentle and easy around your cat. Do not apply any type of pressure to your cat's stomach.  Let your veterinarian do the touching on your cat's tummy. Your veterinarian will not only confirm pregnancy but can diagnose if any other issues arise.

5. Rapid weight gain

Pregnant cats will dramatically gain about a pound or two a day during her gestation period. This may also depend on the number of kittens in her litter. At this stage, your cat will also have an increase in appetite to offset the nutrition she is giving her babies.

6. Signs of being territorial

During her pregnancy, your cat may show more signs of being territorial. This is very common in many other mammals such as gestating dogs. Most mammals are very protective of their young.

7. Let your vet do the talking

persian cat on feeling sick

To ensure the safety of your cat and her litter, routine vet visits are recommended.  You may opt for an ultrasound or an x-ray to determine the status of the pregnancy and the number of heartbeats after 40-45 days of gestation.

At this time, your vet is able to find out how many kittens are in the litter. This is not always accurate, and sometimes there may be more or less in the litter after birth.

8. Add calories into the queen's diet

To sustain a healthy diet during your cat's pregnancy, give here food rich in calories, protein, vitamins, and omega-6 cat foods. This will help her to undergo physical, emotional, and metabolic changes in her body during pregnancy. These types of foods also give the required nutrition to the developing fetuses.

9. Prepare for the birth

Days before the actual delivery, you may want to set up a comfortable place for your cat to give birth. This is where a whelping box can come into play. These can be made at home or bought from certain pet stores.

  • Keep the cat indoors as she gets closer to giving labor. Keeping her inside the house will avoid her finding another place to give birth which could have a negative impact on the cat and her kittens.
  • Set up your whelping box where the cat will give birth.
  • Find a place in the house where it is clean, warm, and quiet.
  • Put material down in the box to keep the cat and her kittens warm.
  • Encourage the cat to sleep in this box prior to her giving birth by setting up the cat's food, water, and litter box next to her.

Should I spay my cat?

Notice that your cat is having several litters a year? This is because if your cat is not spayed, she can breed several times a year. Cats are induced ovulaters, which means they do not have a specific estrus cycle every month like other mammals. If stimulated by a male cat, during copulation a female’s chance of having oocytes available for fertilization increases, thus allowing her to become pregnant. A cat’s gestation length is three months, giving her the ability to have up to four litters a year. Another interesting fact about cats is that they are susceptible to superfecundation. Have you ever noticed kittens of all different colors coming from a solid, one-color cat? This happens when a female’s eggs are fertilized by the sperm of many different male cats.

To reduce the cat population possibility, it is important to have your cat spayed if you are unable to care for the cat and all her litters.

 

Pro tips and warning

  •  Always consult your licensed veterinarian for health information concerning your pregnant cat's welfare.
  •  It is not advised to give pregnant cats vaccines, de-worming drugs, and other medications. These drugs may be dangerous to the unborn kittens. Always consult your veterinarian before giving any type of medication or drugs, especially if she is pregnant.
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