How to tell if a cat is pregnant? A pregnant cat will have gradual yet noticeable changes in her body as well as temperament.
Learning the key signs of feline pregnancy gives you an idea of what is happening to your pet’s body. It also helps you to know when these symptoms are a cause for concern.
1. Heat cycles stop
Intact female cats go into heat every 2–3 weeks for around 3–5 days to attract male cats for breeding. You will notice if your feline friend is in her oestrus through behavioural changes.
She becomes more vocal, and her attention-seeking behaviour increases. Restlessness and attempts to escape the house are also very common signs.
If your cat does not display these behaviours during her heat cycle, it could mean she is pregnant.
2. Morning sickness
Pregnant cats can experience morning sickness, just like pregnant women. This condition comes in the form of inappetence, fatigue, and vomiting. It is an early sign of pregnancy in felines.
However, morning sickness does not happen to all cats, and it rarely occurs. Keep a close eye on your cat if she experiences this pregnancy symptom. Frequent vomiting is a cause for concern and requires a vet’s attention.
3. “Pinking up” of nipples
Around 3 weeks into pregnancy, a pregnant queen’s nipples will begin to swell. Their colour also becomes darker. For this reason, veterinarians call this cat pregnancy symptom “pinking up.”
However, swollen nipples in female cats can be misleading since their heat cycles can also cause this physical change. So, be sure to also look for a milky discharge from your pet’s nipples, which is a common symptom in pregnant cats.
4. Weight gain and increased appetite
You will notice your feline friend gaining weight when she is 2–3 weeks away from her due date.
Pregnant cats will consume more food because their bodies are housing kittens. Generally, they tend to gain 2–4 (0.9–1.8 kilos) pounds of body weight during pregnancy.
Pregnant cats will need more calories and protein to keep the offspring in their wombs healthy. Switching their regular meals to kitten food is necessary because it meets all their nutritional requirements.
Recording your pregnant queen’s weight weekly will help you assess if she is packing too many pounds. Obesity increases the danger of pregnancy complications.
5. Rounded and swollen abdomen
How long does it take to notice if a cat is pregnant? When your feline friend reaches the 5th week of pregnancy, her belly will begin to enlarge noticeably, and it will continue up until she is in labour. It is the most telling sign of pregnancy in cats.
A pregnant cat’s distended abdomen can be easily spotted if she has short fur and a lean physique. It is more challenging to notice in long-haired or fluffy cats.
Hence, many cat owners ask: “How to tell if a cat is pregnant or fat?” and “How to tell if a fluffy cat is pregnant?” You will need to examine your cat’s body from above and the side to tell if she is pregnant or fat.
A pregnant cat only has a rounded and bulging tummy. In comparison, a fat cat is plump all over, including her neck and legs, not just her belly.
6. Changes in personality
Many pregnant cats are very affectionate during the early weeks of their pregnancy. So expect that your feline companion will be seeking out your attention more than usual around this time.
Prepare for another change in temperament when she reaches her final weeks of pregnancy. Your cat will become more reclusive and territorial as she prepares for the delivery of her litter.
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Cat Pregnancy Duration
How long are cats pregnant? Pregnancy in cats typically lasts for around 63–67 days or 9 weeks. However, the length of pregnancy of every feline may vary.
This makes it difficult to estimate how long your cat will be pregnant. Generally, the gestation period for cats may go for 61–72 days.
A female cat does not show pregnancy symptoms until a few weeks into her term. If you want a definite confirmation, take your pet to the vet for pregnancy tests.
If you are wondering, “How to know if my cat is pregnant without a vet?” there are no reliable home cat pregnancy tests available yet.
If you want to know if your cat is pregnant without consulting a vet, you will need to check her physical condition and behaviour. Look for the signs we have mentioned above.
Take note that false pregnancy can mimic some of the symptoms, such as swollen nipples and changes in behaviour. Moreover, doing the pregnancy assessment by yourself can make you miss out on many important pieces of information.
For instance, you do not have a clear idea of how many kittens she carries or if she has stable health during her pregnancy. Due to this problem, it would be best to get her properly diagnosed by the vet.
Diagnosing Pregnancy in Cats
The vet will run a few pregnancy tests to confirm if your cat is expecting kittens. Some of the common examinations done are:
The vet will gently press their hand on your cat’s abdomen to detect the presence of foetuses in her womb. It is generally carried out when she is on her 17th–25th day of pregnancy.
On the downside, palpation is not the most reliable way to assess if your cat is pregnant.
Once your cat is in her 2nd week of pregnancy, the vet may use an ultrasound. It can detect the foetuses around that time. When your feline friend reaches the 3rd week, the ultrasound can catch the foetuses’ heartbeats.
Whilst this type of pregnancy test confirms the presence of kittens; it cannot tell how many of them are in the womb.
3. Radiographs or X-Rays
Sometime around your cat’s 6th week into pregnancy, the vet may run X-rays to check the number of kittens your cat is carrying.
The foetuses’ bones begin to be visible on an X-ray around 42 days into the pregnancy. Thus, this examination is usually done sometime around your cat’s 6th week into the pregnancy.
4 Signs Your Cat Will Give Birth Soon
How to tell if a pregnant cat is in labour? A pregnant cat will exhibit changes in behaviour when she is about to go into labour. Here are the most common signs that a litter of kittens is on the way:
1. Nesting Behaviour
Your pregnant cat will look for a quiet and secluded spot to give birth. She may start arranging blankets and other clothing for her nesting area.
This behaviour often begins 2 days before delivering kittens, but it can also happen 12 hours or less before giving birth.
2. Lack of Appetite
Pregnant cats tend to lose their appetite and refuse to eat when they are close to labour. Regardless, place her food and water bowls near her nesting area in case she wants to eat or drink.
3. Restlessness and Vocalisation
As your cat’s delivery time draws near, she will become unsettled and prone to meowing a lot. She may pace back and forth or go in and out of her nesting area. You will typically see this behaviour 24 to 48 hours preceding labour.
4. Lowered Body Temperature
The normal body temperature of felines is around 100.5–102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Within 12–36 hours of labour, your pregnant cat’s temperature will drop below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is often asked: “Do cats poop a lot before going into labor?” Some pregnant cats do poop when going into labour. It is believed to be caused by the kittens’ pushing to her organs as they grow.
Constantly monitor your cat as she goes into labour. If she is straining or having some sort of difficulty birthing, contact the vet right away.
The same should be done if her vaginal discharge after giving birth is dark brown. It could be a sign of internal bleeding.
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Take the Crucial Step of Preventing Unwanted Pregnancy in Cats
Consider getting your female cat spayed if you are not keeping her for breeding purposes. Leaving her intact could contribute to the rising population of neglected kittens that need a loving home.
Spaying is also beneficial to her health. It stops her from going into heat and reduces the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. Getting her fixed means, she can live longer and happier years with you.