Cat Health

How Do You Know if your Cat is Expecting? 8 Signs to Watch

Symptoms of Cat Pregnancy

You may have mated your premium bred cat, or perhaps your indoor cat got out before you had the chance to get her spayed. Either way, your question is the same. Is it possible that my pretty pussy cat is pregnant?

Remember, like any mammal, it only takes one encounter for a female cat, even a kitten as young as four months, to get pregnant.

A cat’s gestation period typically lasts from 63 to 65 days, but can be as short as 61 days or as long as 72 days, according to Purina. That means a kitten could become a mama at approximately six months old!

That is why spaying is important if you are not in the market for a litter of kittens. Felines are very efficient breeders, and if an unaltered female has access to an unaltered tom, she could get pregnant twice a year on average!

That is because female cats go into heat every two to three weeks from early spring until late fall, meaning they are at peak fertility and ready to mate as soon as the opportunity arises.

Having kittens can be exciting, yet emotional for both you and your kitty. Your queen, which is what a pregnant cat is called, needs you to be strong for her. You will need to prepare your home for her and her kittens.

According to Dr. Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian and veterinary acupuncturist, that is why it is best to bring your pal to the vet as soon as you suspect a pregnancy to get confirmation. That way you can be sure that your kitty and her children-to-be are all healthy and progressing well.

The signs that your cat may be pregnant are subtle, so you will have to know what to look for specifically. For the first few weeks, you may not even see any overt changes. However, as the pregnancy moves forward, your cat’s physical appearance, attitude, and behavior will start to change.

Here are some of the signs that you should keep an eye out for:

1. Are Darkened Nipples a Sign of Pregnancy?

Yes, they are. Between 15 and 18 days of pregnancy, a cat’s nipples may become dark red in color and appear enlarged, as referred to in this article on pet-informed. Veterinarians refer to this phenomenon as a cat “pinking up.”

Usually occurring two weeks post conception, this is how your cat’s body prepares for nursing duties. And, while you may notice a bit of milky discharge coming from her nipples, she shouldn’t start to produce milk in earnest until after she gives birth.

Just remember, do not touch her nipples to check them because they will be especially sensitive. She may also become hostile if an attempt to inspect them.

2. Can my Cat be Experiencing Morning Sickness?

It is considered to be quite rare, but just like their human counterparts; female cats can experience a period of morning sickness, and they may also appear more tired than usual.

In addition to vomiting, she may lose her appetite due to extensive nausea. Just keep an eye on her if this happens, and if the vomiting occurs too frequently, or if she develops diarrhea, looks to be unhealthy, or loses too much weight too rapidly, bring her to the vet to be checked out.

This condition usually occurs early into gestation due to the changes in her uterus and an increase in hormones. After a couple weeks pass, she should feel much better as the symptoms fade.

If your cat goes outside, she may chew on some grass to aid in her digestion, or if she is an indoor cat, try purchasing food that is specially formulated for sensitive tummies.

3. Will my Cat’s Belly Appear to Swell if She’s Pregnant?

Your cat may start to develop a rounded tummy around the 30th day of pregnancy. It is not always easy to see, but if it is approximately a month after mating, you may be able to notice. You should only touch her abdomen gently, however, because you may accidentally injure the queen or her kittens.

While touching her belly is not always a good way to ascertain whether or not she is in the family way, in this YouTube video, Dr. Jace King, of the Washington Family Veterinary Clinic, explains the correct way to check your kitty’s abdomen.

Remember, there are other reasons why your kitty could have a swollen stomach. Be sure that she is not exhibiting any other signs of illness, and if you are concerned, take her to see her vet.

4. How Much Weight will my Cat Gain?

If your cat is indeed preggers, expect her to gain more than a little weight. She will probably put on about two to four pounds, or one to two kilograms, in total, but that all depends on the size of her litter.

This is possibly the strongest indicator of pregnancy, but it can be hard to tell if Fluffy is packing on pounds if she was already overweight, to begin with.

Be sure that your cat is not putting on to weight, however, because that is unhealthy for her and the kittens. Do not feed her too many table scraps and be sure that her cat food is nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals. Some cat food brands offer special formulations for expecting cats.

5. Why is my Cat Dragging Blankets into the Corner?

When kitty has only two weeks left before giving birth, she may start a process that is referred to as “nesting.” This means that she will seek out a quiet area in your home and start rearranging blankets, pillows, and other materials to the best of her ability.

Basically, she is looking for a place to give birth and trying to set one up for her comfort and the well-being of her brood.

You can help her out by setting up a cozy birthing place for her in advance by preparing a medium-sized box with an opening that is close to the ground and covering it with newspapers, towels, rags, and a soft blanket. She should recognize your efforts and relax accordingly.

However, Cupcake is going to do what she pleases, despite your efforts. If she wants to give birth in the back of a closet or behind the china cabinet, she will do it. You can only guide her so much.

When your kitty is entering her nesting stage, it is probably time to get her to the vet for her last prenatal visit.

He or she can give you pointers on how to prepare for her delivery and how to ensure that each kitten is in good health, as well as the new mom. The vet can also prepare you in the event of an unexpected emergency.

6. Why is my Cat Acting More Affectionate than Usual?

Out of nowhere, your possibly-pregnant pussy cat starts to make a great fuss over you, jumping on your lap, and begging for attention. She’s purring and rolling on her back, and for good measure, she even starts to knead your chest. Why is she in such a good mood?

She is feeling so affectionate because nature is preparing her for becoming maternal-minded. She may also become super-protective all of a sudden.

Her tolerance towards fellow pets and other animals, in general, will also start to wane because she is on the defense, fearing that they will cause harm to her young.

7. Is it Possible that my Cat is Eating for Two or More?

Your queen will definitely start to eat more than usual if she is carrying kittens. As a matter of fact, her appetite will increase exponentially as her pregnancy progresses, and that can also contribute to weight gain.

She will, of course, need more calories and nutrients as she eats for herself and an average of four kittens per litter. This roughly equates to about 1.5 times the amount that she usually eats by the end of her gestation.

Just have the vet confirm her pregnancy because an increased appetite can also be a sign of several ailments, such as heartworms.

However, if she is pregnant, your vet will probably recommend that you feed Mama kitten food while she is carrying and continue to do so while she nurses her babies.

8. Can an Ultrasound Tell me if my cat is Expecting?

Possibly the most accurate way to tell if your cat is pregnant is to have the vet do an ultrasound at his or her office. An ultrasound can be conducted as early as 15 to 21 days into a pregnancy to confirm your suspicions.

Just note that an ultrasound will not tell you how many kittens are going to be born. That can only be determined with an X-ray. X-rays are very safe for pregnant kitties because the amount of radiation used is minimal.

At about 40 to 45 days into the pregnancy, the skeletons of each kitten will be visible on an x-ray. Just note that a larger kitten could obscure the view of a smaller kitten hiding behind him or her, so according to pets.webmd, the number seen on the X-ray is not always 100% accurate.

Please note that if you suspect that your cat may be pregnant, have your vet conduct tests first before having him or she vaccinates or medicates her.

While it is important to maintain your cat’s vaccination schedule to prevent the kittens from becoming infected with any illnesses that their mother may have, not all vaccinations, de-wormers, or flea treatments are safe for all concerned.

What Do I Need to Know about Labor and Childbirth?

Your cat is fully-equipped by Mother Nature to handle labor on her own, but, according to Animal Planet, you can help her prepare as her due to date approaches.

Soothe her, calm her down, and offer her assistance if and when she needs it. A reassuring pat on the head can work wonders for her.

Remember that the poor dear is experiencing the childbirth process without an epidural, and will give birth to multiple babies, so a bit of sympathy and understanding goes a long way!

What Are the Signs that my Cat is going into Labor? 

There are many signs that your queen is about to become a new mom.

Here are a few of the most common signals:

  • Your cat starts to refuse food and continues to do so for at least a period of 24 hours.
  • She seems to act more fidgety than usual, and she starts to seek an area in which to settle down.
  • Her body temperature will drop to below a 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius.
  • She will become much more vocal.
  • She will feel the need to obsessively and repetitively wash.
  • Her vagina will release a bit of discharge. It should not be bloody, black or discolored, or heavy. If that is the case, call her vet.
  • She will experience strong contractions within her abdomen. She should not appear to be straining. If so, she will need professional assistance.

If your cat is experiencing any of these signs, it is time to prepare for the impending births.

At this point, do not let your cat outside, even if that is what she is used to. She could possibly go into labor while she is outside and consequently give birth outdoors without human assistance, and while this can be done, she may need help and you wouldn’t even know.

A domesticated cat counts on you for her comfort and well-being and she would probably be terrified.

In conclusion, if you are unsure about whether or not your cat is pregnant, it is probably a good idea to bring her to the vet to get professional testing done.

However, in the meantime, you should be able to discern particular signs that possibly point to her being with child(ren).

By being alert to your queen’s symptoms, you can get confirmation earlier and she can receive prenatal care before her pregnancy progresses too far without it.