6 Key Signs Your Cat Is Pregnant

The Tell-Tale Signs

Cats never experience menopause, so they can become pregnant late into their adult years. Since female cats are induced ovulators, they have a high chance of becoming pregnant if they are in heat and have sex with a tomcat.

If you suspect your cat is pregnant but don’t know how to tell for sure, this article details the tell-tale signs of feline pregnancy and offers advice on what to do and what to avoid during this time in your cat’s life. 

1. Your Cat No Longer Experiences Heat Cycles

There is no heat cycle when a female cat becomes pregnant. The same is true for other animal species, including people. Cats no longer feel the need to mate, and the hormone levels in their bodies change. 

Do you let your cat interact outdoors with other cats, possibly males? If your cat’s heat cycle suddenly stops, it’s likely they have successfully become pregnant. 

2. Your Pet’s Not as Excited About Food Anymore

Feline pregnancies are known for causing a variety of behavior and body changes. One of the main changes is your pet’s appetite. During the first few weeks of pregnancy, your cat eats less and may even be slightly nauseous in the morning. Sound familiar, anyone?

In the second half of the pregnancy, your cat's appetite increases, but they eat less because the fetuses occupy space in the abdomen. 

3. Nipples Become Larger and Rosier

Pregnant cats’ nipples increase in size and become a noticeable rosy color as early as two or three weeks into the pregnancy. This occurs because of an increased blood flow to mammary glands to stimulate lactation later. 

As your cat’s delivery approaches, you may see a clear or slightly white discharge from your pet’s nipples. 

Pregnant silver cat sleeping on the floor

4. Your Cat Puts on Some Weight

Weight gain is normal for all pregnant animals; cats are no exception. Expect your pet to put on two to four pounds during their pregnancy. 

US-based veterinarian Dr. Amy Sawy says, “The shape of a pregnant cat’s body is different from a fat one. As the pregnant feline’s stomach grows, it resembles the belly of a donkey, which cat owners call the burro shape." She further notes the "added weight is not distributed equally throughout the body.”

5. Pregnant Cats Sleep More

Like any other pregnant animal, expectant cats start taking it a little easier. They move less, are more reluctant to engage in energy-consuming play sessions, and nap more during the day. 

Cats are notorious for their fondness for naps. Nobody ever says, "I'm going to take a little dog nap."

An April 2023 article by BBC Science Focus reports that most domestic cats sleep between 10 and 13 hours a day. It’s common to see your pet snoozing for as many as 16 to 17 hours daily. Pregnant cats sleep an average of 19 to 20 hours a day. 

6. Changes in Behavior 

Besides sleeping more, your pregnant cat experiences other significant behavior changes. It’s particularly common for pregnant pets to become more affectionate toward their owners and seek their attention.

Pregnant cats exhibit nesting behaviors during the last few days before delivery. They spend more time in a secluded place where they feel safe. Some create a nest using blankets, their favorite toys, or other soft items they love.

Putting together a "birthing box" makes your pregnant cat’s life a little easier. Include a disposable soft blanket to discard after delivery of the kittens.  

Grey mother cat nursing her babies kittens, close up

How Does a Vet Diagnose Pregnancy?

If you’re unsure whether your cat is pregnant, take them to the veterinarian. Vets typically diagnose pet pregnancies with classic diagnostic methods such as feeling the cat's abdomen and listening with a stethoscope. They may also conduct an ultrasound or X-ray in the second half of the pregnancy when the kittens’ spines and internal organs are visible.

Pregnancy tests are also available that examine a blood sample, not the urine. That means you don't have to try to get your pet to pee on a stick.

What To Do if Your Cat Is Expecting

A veterinarian must confirm the pregnancy. They can advise you on how to make your pet’s life more comfortable during this exciting time. Some common tips for pet owners with expecting cats are:

  • Gradually switch your cat’s diet from an adult to more nutrient-rich kitten food.

  • Monitor your cat’s health by taking them to the vet once every two to three weeks. 

  • Create a birthing box with your cat’s favorite blankets and soft items so they don’t find another spot in your home. 

  • Make sure your cat is free of fleas, ticks, or lice.

  • Change your cat’s litter daily and maintain excellent litter box hygiene to prevent a urinary tract infection. 

  • Spend as much time with your pet as possible to show them you care about them.

What Not to Do if Your Cat Is Pregnant

If you want your cat’s pregnancy and delivery to be free of complications and their kittens to be born healthy from the get-go, heed this advice:

  • Don't vaccinate your cat during their pregnancy. Vaccines are excellent for protecting your pet against contagious diseases but are risky for the unborn kittens. 

  • Avoid worming your cat. Most anti-parasitic medications harm the liver and can pass through the placenta. 

  • Don't engage your cat in rough play or touch their belly. Although uncommon, such trauma can cause miscarriages. 

  • Keep your cat indoors. Outdoor cats (and other animals) are generally less healthy than indoor-only ones and can transmit diseases to your pet. 

Ensuring a Healthy Pregnancy

Whether the cat's pregnancy was planned or not, this is a period of their life when they need more care and attention. You know the signs and have two months to pamper your pet and prepare for the pitter-patter of little paws in the household — but hopefully not the 60 that greeted V. Gane of Oxfordshire, England, on Aug. 7, 1970, when the family's Siamese-Burmese queen presented them with 15 bundles of joy.

If "grandkits" are something you don't want in your life, consider spaying your female cat. Spaying offers many benefits besides preventing pregnancy. It also protects from serious health issues, including mammary and ovarian cancers. If the deed is done, it's up to you to take care of the mother-to-be and ensure the kittens get a good start to their new lives.

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