How to Tell If a Cat is Pregnant

Pregnant cat.

Ah, the miracle of birth. Cats are pretty good at reproducing, and if you have a female cat who has not been spayed, you might find yourself wondering if she might have kittens on the way. Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital will help you to understand how to tell if a cat is pregnant (or just fat), and what to do if you find yourself with some bundles of joy on the way. 

Pregnant Cat Stages and Other Biology

As female kittens approach 80% of their adult body weight, their reproductive system gears up to be able to have kittens of their own. They typically begin to have estrus cycles between five and seven months of age. 

During estrus, the female cat is often very vocal and affectionate. She will continue to cycle through estrus until she is bred by a male cat. Only then do cats ovulate.

A cat is pregnant for between 64 and 66 days and can get pregnant again within about 4 weeks after birth, before her kittens even leave her! 

Kittens on the Way?

It can be really difficult to tell if a cat is pregnant, especially during the first few weeks of gestation. You may notice a few telltale signs, though, that may vary somewhat over time. 

In general, pregnant cat stages you may notice include:

  • Has larger, darker nipples after about two weeks
  • A slow weight gain of about 2-3 pounds during their pregnancy
  • An increase in appetite 
  • More affectionate behavior
  • Visible swelling of the abdomen, especially in the second month
  • Withdrawn or agitated behavior as it comes close to time to queen

Wellness Care for Expecting Mamas 

Most of the time cats are pretty self sufficient when it comes to having kittens. Your cat will rely on you, though, to ensure that she has good wellness care to put her in the healthiest place possible to have her kittens. She will also need calorie-dense food, fresh water, and a safe place to queen. 

Watching for signs of trouble when she does begin to have the kittens is important as well. While a cat’s labor can last about 24 hours, it may be a pet emergency if she is straining unproductively or there is bloody discharge. 

There are other reasons cats may have a growing abdomen besides pregnancy. If your cat is acting like she doesn’t feel well, has had a swollen abdomen for more than two months without kittens, or appears pregnant when having been bred is unlikely, it is time to contact us so that we can evaluate her. 

Of course, the best way to know that your cat is not pregnant is to have her spayed before she is able to reproduce. Kittens are cute, but they can be a lot of work, too.