Whether your female kitty is slim or chunky, rough or fluffy, it can sometimes be difficult to know if she is pregnant or not. Female cats with litters of only one or two kittens might barely show signs of a plump belly full of life. (This has actually happened to us with a stray we were caring for!) So how can you tell if your cat is pregnant?
In this post, we will go over the tell-tale signs of cat pregnancy and what to expect from an expecting cat mom! By the end of this article, you will be able to know if your cat is pregnant or not and how to prepare for the delivery.
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Pregnant?
Kitten season starts every springtime. Without fail, and without spaying or neutering, thousands of newborn kittens will enter the world from the months of spring to fall, when female cats are in heat every 2-3 weeks.
If your female cat isn’t spayed and roams outside, it’s likely she’s already pregnant. If not, it won’t take long. Even young cats that are 4-6 months old can become pregnant. And it can occur several times during the year, even just a few short weeks after delivering kittens. Females will often mate with male cats 10-20 times in the first days and because of this, it is common to have a litter fathered by several males.
Once pregnant, a female cat’s gestation period lasts around 63-65 days (right past the two-month mark) until delivery. If you’re unsure about where your cat might be on the pregnancy timeline, you can use this handy cat pregnancy calculator to get an idea of when the kittens are due to arrive.
During this 8-9 week cat gestation period, there will be physical and behavioral changes in your female cat.
Here are a few physical changes to watch for to know if your cat is pregnant or not.
Physical Signs of Cat Pregnancy
Not all physical changes in your pregnant female cat will be noticeable, but it’s more often than not that the changes are obvious.
- Swollen belly
- Darkened and enlarged nipples
A swollen belly is the most common sign, but it’s not always obvious. You will be able to feel the difference, though. A cat’s pregnant belly is tight and round in the lower abdomen area. It will feel much different than if your cat is just fat. If she’s far enough along, you may also start to feel movement and or hear noises if you put your ear up against her belly.
Dark and enlarged nipples will begin to appear after two weeks of a cat’s pregnancy. This can also occur just when a cat goes into heat, however, so it’s not always a tell-all sign.
Behavioral Signs Your Cat May Be Pregnant
In addition to physical changes, a pregnant cat will display behavioral changes, such as:
- Mating calls (meowling)
- Being EXTRA loving and affectionate
- Having a big increase in appetite
- Burrowing her front body town and raising her butt and tail
Meowling or displaying low-sounding mating calls is a way to attract male cats when your cat is in heat. After a week in this heat cycle, it’s normal for a female cat to “stop” this behavior for another 8-10 days, after which a new heat cycle will begin.
Showing increased signs of love and affection to your or members in the household is a common sign your cat is in heat and or is pregnant. (Beyond the normal levels of affection!) Your cat will also have an increased appetite.
Lifting her butt in such a position that suggests wanting sexual attention from male cats is a sign your cat is in heat and is possibly pregnant. This behavior can continue even after your cat gets pregnant.
Another sign of pregnancy (albeit in the later stage) is nesting. Nesting is when a female cat begins to prepare for her delivery. She’ll seek out a quiet or suitable place (not always) to give birth to her litter of kittens. (As a teenager, we had a pregnant cat who wouldn’t give birth until we came with her to the bathroom and sat down with her on the bathmat! So cute!)
So those are the main ways to tell if a cat is pregnant or not.
If you’re still unsure and have doubts, contact your local vet. They will be able to conduct a physical exam or ultrasound to determine if your cat is pregnant or not.
So your cat may be pregnant. What happens next?
How to Prepare for Your Pregnant Cat’s Newborn Kittens
Watching your cat give birth to kittens is a beautiful sight to see. There is nothing sweeter than being there to watch your kitty turn into a loving momma cat!
There are a few things you should know about what to expect as a cat owner with a pregnant cat!
First, cats will find the most bizarre places to give birth. Don’t believe me? Just read the comment section in our article about moving newborn kittens. Cats are sneaky at getting into confined spaces and giving birth there because it’s dark, safe (from their perspective), and quiet.
But if you can make the first move, you can encourage momma cat to have her kittens in a safe, dedicated place that you will provide.
- Find a safe, quiet, clean, and low-light space (good examples are closets, empty guestrooms or bathrooms, private corners, under a high-raised bed, etc,).
- Gather blankets, towels, and arrange them inside a spacious cardboard box.
- Keep momma’s food, water, and litter nearby (it doesn’t have to be RIGHT next to it).
- Encourage your pregnant cat to go to this spot, especially as she displays nesting behavior.
How to Prevent Your Cat from Getting Pregnant (Again)
The only way to make sure your cat doesn’t keep getting pregnant is to spay her. That also means neutering any male cats you have because they are capable of impregnating dozens of unspayed females in just a day or two.
Both males and females will mate at very young ages (4-6 months), so there’s no time to wait. Spaying and neutering not only helps control overpopulation, but it is also beneficial for the environment.
Keeping your cat indoors is also a way to ensure your cat doesn’t get pregnant. But even then, cats can escape and become pregnant so quickly you won’t even realize it until you have a litter of kittens to take care of!
If you’re tight on funds, oftentimes local animal shelters offer to waive the cost of the procedure, or at least, offer reduced prices. Check with your local shelter to see if they are offering free or reduced-cost spay/neuter programs in your area.
Final Thoughts: How to Know If Your Cat Is Pregnant
Knowing if your cat is pregnant or not comes down to being able to point out the physical and behavioral changes in your female cat. Remember to especially watch (and feel) for a plump, swollen belly and enlarged, darkened, or leaking nipples.
If you ever have doubts or concerns about your cat’s health and pregnancy status, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian.
Have you ever had a “surprise” litter of kittens from a pregnant cat? What did you do? Drop your thoughts and questions with us in the comments below!
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This article was kindly sponsored by Emergency Vets USA. Please reach out to us if you have any questions.
Monday 8th of May 2023
do they get more fluffy when they are pregnant?
Saturday 28th of November 2020
When I was growing up, I had a beautiful stray cat my brother found and gave me. My parents didn't have the money to have her spayed and she was primarily an outside cat so we had kittens quite often. She was so sweet about it, though. Whenever she had a litter, she would bring 1 of the kittens to the doorstep and meow until I came to the door. My mother would find a long deep cardboard box, put soft warm bedding in it and we would place the kitten in the very back of the box in our garage. Within a few hours, Buffy would bring the rest of the kittens from wherever they were (we never knew) to the box in the garage. She trusted us to take care of her babies.