How Do I Know If My Cat Is Pregnant?

Sleeping more? Yes. Swollen pink nipples? Yes. Weight gain and enlarged abdomen? Congratulations... Your cat may very well be pregnant.

cat-signs-of-pregnancy
Learn how to tell if your cat is pregnant, even when it's not so obvious as with this cat.

If you have a female cat that has not been spayed, chances are you are familiar with the heat cycle that occurs and how frequently your cat experiences it. A break in the cycle might mean your cat is pregnant, but there are other symptoms that can be signs of an impending arrival of tiny furballs.

Symptoms of Pregnancy

Besides the heat cycle changing, your cat may have recently been outside, escaped or been around a male cat (tom cat) that was not neutered. If you suspect your cat might be pregnant or notice some new symptoms you can’t identify, see if they match these pregnancy symptoms:

  • Swollen pink nipples (usually the earliest sign)
  • Sleeping more
  • Increased appetite
  • Vomiting (some is normal; excessive vomiting requires a trip to the vet)
  • Abdomen increases in size or belly starts hanging lower
  • More affectionate
  • Weight gain
  • Seeks out quiet and/or secluded areas for birthing (closer to the end of pregnancy)

Your veterinarian can examine the cat and confirm pregnancy by feeling the abdomen carefully, and performing an ultrasound or hormonal test. The total time of a pregnancy is around nine weeks but can vary.

She’s Pregnant. Now What?

Once the pregnancy has been confirmed, you need to decide what to do based on how far along the cat is in her pregnancy. One option is abortion and should be discussed with your vet on its possibility and availability, and prepare to discuss this decision with other family members. The other option is to allow your cat to go to full term and deliver the kittens.

If you decide to allow the pregnancy to go to term, make arrangements for the kittens’ care in your home or contact local shelters or rescues to make arrangements. Assuming you’ve had the vet checkup and have discussed vaccinations and medical concerns, you’ll next need to look at dietary needs.

Your pregnant cat needs a nutrient-rich diet during her pregnancy and fresh, clean water at all times. As you get closer to her birth (about 2-3 weeks to go), add a high-quality food. Your cat will probably eat more often but in less quantities, so prepare for multiple feedings throughout the day. Keep your cat indoors during this time to minimize risks to her and her fetuses.

Potential Pregnancy Problems

Not every pregnancy goes as planned, and there are some risks involved that you should be prepared to address with a trip to the nearest animal emergency facility.

Eclampsia is a life-threatening condition with symptoms such as restlessness, pacing, panting, drooling, loss of coordination, muscle spasms or seizure-like movements. Secondly, the fetuses can abort naturally. Signs that this may have happened may include fever, bleeding, behavioral changes or other changes. Lastly, resorption occurs when the mother’s body absorbs the dead fetus.

Any of these instances are serious and need to be addressed by a vet immediately.

Did You Know?

  • Cats can skip a heat cycle and may even show signs of pregnancy without being pregnant (false pregnancy).
  • Naturally aborted fetuses may be eaten by the mother.
  • Family members can and will mate if they have access to each other. It’s not about being brother and sister that matters to cats; it’s just about having the right equipment.

Photo: Jsome1/Flickr

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9 comments

  1. Kyndall Lambert Reply

    Is it bad to leave a cat outside while its pregnant??

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Hi Kyndall! Cats are pretty resilient creatures but if I were in your shoes I would try to make her an indoor cat for her pregnancy. That way you can see how her health is doing at any time, plus when she gives birth you’ll know where she is. Otherwise she may sneak off and give birth outside somewhere!

  2. irisxxo Reply

    i have a ginger cat that basically lives in my backyard and only leaves to go get food if i dont give her enough (im 9 btw) and some black and what cat comes barely and the black cat came and i was kinda playing with it but not touching it because it might have a disease or something but then the ginger cat that i think is a she came and kinda got jealous because i didnt play with her and then they just stared st eachother then the black and white cat came closed and started meowing at her and like yelling at her and it made me really sad and the ginger cat was in a corner scared and afraid and then my older brother came outside to my bakcyard and the black and white cat looked away so the ginger cat ran i think it went and hid in one of my chairs and then my brother took the black cat away and i think the ginger cat is pregnant because my older sister said she is pregnant because she was laying in someway and i dont know what to do! please help! comment back or direct message me on my instagram its: iriswooz – thank youuu!!

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Hi Iris! It is difficult to know if your cat is pregnant or not, but the best thing to do is to talk to an adult to see if they can look her over. If you have a parent or guardian available, they would be the perfect person to check your kitty!

  3. Melissa Smith Reply

    Mobuto, that is a question for your veterinarian.

  4. Hassan Ahmed Somroo Reply

    Does false pregnancy is common or happens in some cases

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      I’m not sure if this is a “thing” with felines. I would say if you think your cat even might be pregnant, then it’s time for a trip to the vet. 🙂

  5. Bagus Sinatrya Reply

    I have 2 cats and they are bro and sis. Is it really possible if they mate?

    1. Melissa Smith Reply

      Cats don’t think of each other the way people do, as in siblings. They think in terms of male and female and that’s it….so yes, they absolutely can and will mate.