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How to Tell if a Cat is Pregnant
Cats BehaviorCats CareCat Guides

How to Tell if a Cat is Pregnant

If you can tell when your cat is pregnant, you can help her throughout the albeit short yet a difficult period. Pregnancies in cats are shorter but the cat undergoes so many changes that she will need all the assistance you can provide. Learning to spot the signs of pregnancy is important because then you will be able to guarantee that she gets the best care imaginable for a cat and her forthcoming kittens. Pregnant cats go through numerous behavioral and physical fluctuations. If you notice any of these changes and think your cat might be expecting, take her to the vet for validation and guidance.

How Long Are Cats Pregnant For?

Cat pregnancy length is between 63 and 65 days. At times it can also range between 58 to 72 days. This is a quick pregnancy particularly when you think about human pregnancies. It also means that the pet parent has to be watchful and hands-on. Early discovery and care aid with a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Preparing for Your Cat's Pregnancy & Her Kittens

Cats do not need a lot when it comes to giving birth. As a pet parent you can easily prepare your cat for delivery by helping her find the perfect spot. A quiet and private area with a soft bed or blanket is ideal for this purpose. When the cat goes into her nesting phase, she may choose a special spot in the house and even drag some blankets over there. This is how she prepares for pregnancy so make sure that you do not disturb her corner. 

Do not skip on veterinary check-ups during the pregnancy. The doctor will be able to take care of her well-being and the babies' growth. Nourishment is indispensable when a cat is pregnant. It ensures that the cat gives birth to a healthy litter. She should be able to obtain all of her nutritional needs from a well-balanced food source. It will help her kittens flourish even after birth.

Signs of Pregnancy in Cats

How to tell if cat is pregnant? It is not as straightforward as one might think. A pet parent has to be observant and notice both physical and behavioral changes. Some of the important signs you should be on the lookout for include:

Physical Changes

Heat cycles cease

When a cat is no longer experiencing heat cycles, it is the first sign that she might be pregnant. This is particularly true if your cat was experiencing these cycles regularly and they suddenly end. As mentioned on the VCA Animal Hospitals website, a cat comes into heat frequently during the year. When your cat becomes more loving than usual, rolls around in your feet and rubs her legs against you every chance she gets, it is clear that she is in heat.

Nipples swell and become rosier in color

Cat gestation period is marked by the nipples becoming more prominent and swollen around the third week. They also become rosier in color, also known as pinking-up. It is one of the earliest and most obvious signs of pregnancy so you can hardly miss it. 

Change in appetite

Cats that are pregnant always undergo a series of changes in appetite. Your cat might start to eat less due to nausea. After a while her appetite will start increasing as she has to support the growing kittens. This pattern is similar to that of humans.

Weight gain

Weight gain is common with cats because they start eating a lot more as the pregnancy goes on. This weight gain is gradual and most of it will be centered around her belly.

Vomiting

Morning sickness and vomiting is an occasional occurrence in pregnant cats as it is with humans. If she is heaving now and then along with some other indications that she might be pregnant, get a check-up done to be sure.

Enlarged abdomen

The cat's abdomen noticeably expands when the pregnancy advances. This is to be expected and the level of enlargement also depends on how many kittens are in her belly.

Personality Changes

Affection increases

Cats need more love and affection from you when they are about to give birth. Pet your kitty frequently, paying extra attention to her growing belly. The rhythmic motion of your hand can soothe her and create a sense of security.

Increase in sleeping

Sleeping more than usual is also a surefire sign that your little kitty is expecting. They need more energy at this phase in their life so they end up spending most of the day catching up on sleep.

Nesting behaviors

As delivery approaches, your cat might start exhibiting nesting behaviors. She will look for a place that is comfortable and a little secluded. This will be the place where she gives birth. The cat starts taking bedding or other soft materials to her chosen spot and creating a nest for delivery.

How Vets Diagnose Pregnancy in Cats

Still wondering how to tell if cat is pregnant? A medical diagnosis from a veterinarian is essential. These trained professionals employ a number of methods to give you a proper and confirmed diagnosis. Some of these methods are:

Exam and Palpation

A vet will mildly palpate or press the cat's belly to feel the kittens inside. PetMD advises that this procedure should be done 2 and a half weeks into the pregnancy. Palpation should only be performed by a professional as an inexperienced individual might end up hurting the kittens.

Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are not for humans alone. They can confirm your cat's pregnancy without a shadow of a doubt. Around 2 to 3 weeks after conception an ultrasound can be done. As it is so reliable, you should get it done to check the health and development of the kittens along with the mother.

Radiographs (X-rays)

An X-ray can help determine for sure if a cat is expecting. It’s vital to protect the fetus so an X-ray should only be done after the 42nd day of pregnancy. By this time the kittens’ bones have matured enough to be noticeable in the X-ray image. It also helps count the number of kittens and identify their positions in the womb.

Pregnancy test

Blood tests are also done at the clinics to measure the levels of the hormone relaxin. It is only present during a pregnancy so the test confirms it. This is possible after 25 days of conception.

Conclusion

Cats experience pregnancies multiple times during their life as they never experience menopause. A cat might go through numerous undesirable pregnancies which will eventually take a toll on her health. You can prevent this by getting your cat neutered after the first one or even instead to avoid getting pregnant altogether as recommended by most veterinarians. However, if pregnancy happens, it is important to learn to identify its signs. Only then can you provide your cat with the best possible care before, during and after delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can cats sense pregnancy?

There are many ups and downs in the hormone levels of a feline during pregnancy just like humans. It enables them to sense the pregnancy.

What age can cats get pregnant?

There is no set age group or limit for a cat’s pregnancy. They can be as young as 4-month-old and still get pregnant.