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Is My Cat Pregnant? 9 Vet-Approved Signs to Look For

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Have you noticed some unusual behavioral or physical changes in your female cat? You’ve ruled out all potential options, but have you thought about pregnancy? If she is not spayed, she could be pregnant.

Female cats go into heat cycles every 14-21 days. There’s a chance she’s pregnant if she’s been in contact with an unneutered male cat- within the right time period.

So what can you look for when you suspect that your cat is pregnant? We’ve compiled the latest research for you so you don’t have to be guessing anymore.

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The 9 Signs Your Cat is Pregnant

Physical Pregnancy Signs

1. No Longer in Heat

A cat in heat will display several odd behaviors, like loud, incessant calling (especially at night), a need to escape the house, and excessive grooming. These behaviors are normal with an unspayed cat every 10 days or so in the spring months and into the fall.

When you’ve noticed she’s been doing this before and suddenly stops for over several weeks, there’s a good chance that she’s pregnant.

chocolate point ragdoll cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: atrix9, Pixabay
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2. Weight Gain

Pregnant cats will eat more to give their kittens the nutrition they need. This will result in her gaining some extra weight. Your cat shouldn’t gain more than 4 pounds during her pregnancy.

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3. Rounder Belly

Not only will weight gain increase the size of her belly area, but those growing kittens will take up more space in there too. This doesn’t start happening until after around 5 weeks of pregnancy.

It’s tempting to feel her belly to see if there are kittens in there. Do so with much caution and gently, as you do not want to accidentally harm her unborn kittens.

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Image Credit: Pixabay
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4. Morning Sickness

Just like pregnant humans, pregnant cats get morning sickness when they are expecting. Your cat is plagued with morning sickness when she vomits more often or she just seems extra tired. Keep an eye on her; if you feel she is getting too sick, take her to the vet.

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5. “Pinking”

This process happens around 2-3 weeks after conception and may be the first sign you notice when a cat is pregnant. It’s called “pinking,” and it describes changes in your cats nipples when she’s affected by pregnancy hormones. When this happens, the nipples get larger and change to more of a reddish color.

cat lying on a bench_yarmrtsnk, Shutterstock
Image Credit: yarmrtsnk, Shutterstock

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Behavioral Pregnancy Signs

6. Eating More

If your cat is indeed pregnant, she will have an increased appetite for food (given that her morning sickness isn’t too bad). This is good because she is feeding not only herself, but her growing kittens too.

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7. More Affectionate

A pregnant cat might show more affection toward you than she otherwise would. Perhaps she is rubbing up against you more, or purring or meowing when you walk by. Feel free to give her more love, but be careful with her belly, It’s best to scoop her up from behind her tail than to carry her by her abdomen area.

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8. Sleeps more

Growing kittens is tough work! Your cat might be pregnant if she is sleeping a lot more than usual, up to several additional hours per day.

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9. Nesting

Towards the end of pregnancy, your cat will begin to gather things like soft blankets, towels, and scrap paper in a quiet and comfortable area around your home. She’s preparing a place for her kittens to be born in!

Male marble cat lying in cat bed
Image Credit: Iva Vagnerova, Shutterstock

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Veterinary tests

If you have found that your cat is displaying many of these signs, it’s a good idea to take her to the vet to make sure she is in good health. A veterinary doctor will do a few of the following things to confirm her pregnancy.

a red long-haired tabby cat is being checked up by a vet
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Feeling test

A veterinarian will be able to feel your cat’s stomach area gently to know if there are any kittens in your cat’s belly.

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The classic way to tell if any mammal is pregnant is through ultrasound. A sonogram machine will be applied to your cat’s abdomen, and the vet will be able to see tiny embryos beginning to grow.

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For cats, an x-ray is also a common test run to see if a cat is pregnant. The radiation transferred is miniscule and will not harm your cat or kittens. This is a great way to be able to tell how many kittens are present, as you will be able to count the skulls and spines of the kittens.

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What if I Don’t Want Kittens?

Even though the kittens will be well cared for by their mother, you might not have the space in your home or the resources to find the new kittens a new home. Depending on your personal moral compass, you might be fine terminating your cat’s pregnancy.

This is possible by taking her to a vet and having her spayed, even while she is pregnant. However, the procedure needs to be done as early as possible. Past a certain point, though, you won’t have a choice and will have to prepare to have kittens.

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How to Care for a Pregnant Cat

Congratulations on finding out your cat is pregnant! Some pretty adorable creatures will arrive in a few short months. Help your queen (yes, that’s actually what a pregnant cat is called) get all the comfort and nutrition she needs during this special time.

1. Feed her kitten food

Normal adult cat food might not have enough of the proper nutrients for your expecting cat. For now, you can buy and feed her food that’s formulated for kittens. Kittens need lots of protein to grow up healthy, and your pregnant cat needs lots more protein, too.

cat eating at the counter
Image Credit: Isabelle Blanchemain, Pxhere
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2. Small, frequent meals

Towards the end of her pregnancy, your feline might not have the same space in her stomach that she used to. She will fill up quickly because of her growing kittens taking up extra stomach space. Keep a little food in her food bowl all the time for her snacky eating habits.

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3. Water

Your queen will need plenty of water throughout pregnancy, as well as while she is nursing. When the kittens come, though, you will need to keep the water out of their reach, as it is a drowning risk for them.

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4. Cuddles

As we’ve mentioned earlier, little Queenie will want some extra love from you during this uncomfortable time. She will definitely appreciate some more petting sessions, scratches, and holding. Be careful around her abdomen, though, because that area might be sensitive for her.

cat lying on humans lap
Image Credit: Piqsels
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5. Vaccines and Deworming Meds

Make sure she is up-to-date on appropriate vaccinations and deworming meds, especially before planned pregnancy. By the time she is pregnant, she might not be able to have some vaccines administered because of the health risk to her kittens.

Your veterinarian will be able to advise if vaccinations or dewormers are safe and necessary during this time. Depending on the case, it might be advisable as they get passed on to the kittens in-utero, therefore protecting them for the first part of their lives. But, this definitely needs to be pre-approved by a vet as not all products are safe for fetal kittens, and there are specific stages of the pregnancy when is best to administer and safe to use products.
Also, consult your vet about any regular medications or other treatments your cat normally takes. The vet might stop or change certain products such as anti-flea treatments.

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How long does a pregnancy last?

A cat gestates for about 9 weeks, or 61-72 days. If you choose to have your cat checked out by the local vet, he or she will be able to tell you the expected date of delivery. And don’t be caught off guard – know the signs to look for to tell if your cat is going into labor!

Labor and Delivery

For the most part, your queen will take care of herself during the birthing process. It’s all very natural and usually does not need intervening. However, you can do a few things to help her stay comfortable during the process.

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How to prepare for the big day

1. Comfy box

The best thing you can do for your expecting cat is to provide a nesting box for her. Gather a medium to large cardboard box and a few soft blankets and towels for her to rest and give birth in. Make sure the area the box is in is quiet and not too bright. She may choose not to birth here, but at least she has the nice option!

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2. Other Supplies

Some other supplies you might want to gather before delivery include:
  • Disposable absorbent pads. You can find these at any supermarket near the adult incontinence supplies. Place this under your cat before she gives birth for easy cleanup.
  • Heating pad. Keep it on a very low setting under a few layers of towels or blankets to keep the kittens warm.
  • Extra towels and blankets
  • Scissors and dental floss in case she does not cut her own umbilical cords.
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3. Labor signs

It’s helpful to know what signs to look for if your cat starts to go into labor so you can be ready and nearby, in case she needs help.

  • She will likely stop eating days or even up to a week before giving birth due to lack of appetite
  • Up to 48 hours before birth, she will be obviously uncomfortable and restless
  • She may meow at you more than usual, mostly to let you know something unusual is going on (her labor)
  • If you check her temperature, it will drop well below normal (which is 100-102.5 degrees F)

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How many kittens will my pregnant cat have?

In most cases, you can expect your cat to give birth to anywhere between 4 to 6 kittens. If you take your cat to the vet, your vet will be able to tell you how many kittens you will have to look out for.

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Hopefully, by now you’ve been able to rule out whether your cat is becoming a queen or not. You can always take your cat to the vet to be sure, or to rule out some other possible problem that could be causing your cat’s strange behavior. If kittens are in your future, we hope you have a smooth birthing process and enjoy those cute little kitties!

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Featured Image: Jim Polakis, Shutterstock