Signs a Cat is Pregnant & What To Know

July 01, 2024 in Cat

"Is my cat pregnant?" It's a question concerned cat owners ask a surprising amount. When you haven't gotten your cat spayed and she's gone unsupervised for a time, chances are that your cat might be pregnant. But how does one know for sure? This is how to tell if a cat is pregnant. There are several key symptoms and features to look for during the short gestation period.

Signs a Cat is Pregnant & What To Know

How Long Are Cats Pregnant?

Pregnancy in felines lasts about two months. A cat stays pregnant between 63 to 67 days, though it may be as long as 72 days. Often, a cat won't display signs of pregnancy until two or three weeks into the term. That gives a pet owner a little more than a month to plan and prepare.

Signs a Cat Is Pregnant

Here's how to tell if your cat is pregnant the old-fashioned way:

  • Heat Cycle Change: Your cat will normally have a heat cycle every 10 days to two weeks. This is often accompanied by yowling or rolling on the floor. This will stop when she gets pregnant.
  • Increased Appetite: Your pregnant "queen" will likely desire more food during this time (about 1.5 times her normal diet), as she's not only feeding herself.
  • Darkened Nipples: The cat's nipples will swell and "pink up" in color. They might look darker and fully engorged, especially if she's had more than one litter. It might not be easy to tell under a layer of dark fur, however.
  • Vomiting: Morning sickness is common for both humans and cats. Regular vomiting may be a sign that she's pregnant early on. On the other hand, if your cat is continuously doing this with all its food and there aren't other indications of pregnancy, it may be a sign of other severe issues.
  • Weight Gain: Especially later on in the gestation period, owners will often notice a two- to four-pound weight gain.
  • Longer Sleep Periods: Your cat will want to stay asleep for longer periods of time.
  • Affectionate Behavior: Many pet owners say that they notice an increase in affectionate behavior. You may notice your pet seeking out your attention more frequently. This is due to hormonal and neurological changes.
  • Nesting Behavior: Cats prepare for birth by finding secluded, quiet places to have their litter. Your cat may even start arranging blankets or being feisty with other animals about her space.
  • Swollen Abdomen: Halfway through your cat's gestation period, she'll show physical signs of being pregnant. This distortion may be harder to see on overweight cats.

Of course, it's a combination of factors. For instance, hunger alone may be a sign of other issues, and weight gain is sometimes normal. Also, it can be hard to tell when an obese cat with dark fur is pregnant. An owner might want to visit the vet to know for sure.

How to Know If Your Cat Is Pregnant for Certain

Your trusted, local vet will be able to tell you for certain if your cat is pregnant by using one of these strategies:

  • Palpation: An experienced veterinarian can gently press on the cat's abdomen and feel the cat's fetuses as early as the 20th day of pregnancy.
  • X-Rays: X-rays will only show skeletons of kittens about 40 days into the pregnancy. It's the best way to show the number of kittens.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasounds can find kittens as early as 21 days of the pregnancy, but it can sometimes be difficult to count the number of kittens.

How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have in One Litter?

There are typically between one to 10 kittens in a litter. First-time queens tend to give birth to smaller litters of two or three kittens. Older queens tend to have smaller litters as well. It also may depend on the breed; Siamese cats tend to have big litters while Persian cats tend to have smaller litters. It's a smart idea to talk to your vet to find out how many kittens in the litter to expect, as sometimes a first-time mother will birth some but not all of its kittens, which can cause potentially life-threatening issues. Sometimes, pet owners are surprised by more kittens, as there is typically 10 minutes to an hour between them.

What Age Can a Cat Get Pregnant

A cat can get pregnant as soon as she's about four months old, which is why it's so important to get her spayed early on. Typically, a female cat may experience "heat" around that time. A cat doesn't experience menopause like a human does; it can keep getting pregnant until the last few years of its life. Therefore, a cat that hasn't been spayed can get pregnant both very young and very old.

If you have more questions about feline pregnancy that haven't been answered here, feel free to call us for more information. Consider coming in for a visit to make sure and get ready. There are many medical reasons to check up on your cat, especially if this is her first litter.