How to tell if my cat is pregnant?

If your female cat has been gaining weight, eating more and seemingly more cuddly, congratulations! She may be pregnant! Here, our San Angelo vets talk about how to tell if your cat is pregnant and how to care for her during this time.

At what age can cats become pregnant?

When an unspayed female cat escapes the home for any period of time, there is a good chance that they will come home pregnant. This is because female cats begin to experience heat as early as 4 months old. 

You can expect your unspayed cat to go into heat as often as every 3 weeks although the frequency ultimately depends on where you live. An unspayed female cat could have as many as 4 litters of kittens a year, with between 4-12 kittens in each litter.

Pregnant Cats: Signs & Symptoms

Cats are pregnant for approximately 2 months which means that if your cat was outside for any amount of time in the past two months, you should keep an eye on her for the symptoms of pregnancy. While each cat experiences different symptoms, here are some of the most commonly seen signs of pregnancy in cats.

  • Notable weight gain
  • Pink, swollen nipples
  • Distended abdomen
  • Increased appetite
  • Becoming more affectionate
  • Hiding more often
  • May sleep more than usual

If you do note any of the above symptoms then you should schedule your cat for an examination to have your vet check for pregnancy.

How will my vet diagnose my pregnant cat?

There are a few different ways that your vet can diagnose pregnancy in cats including:

  • The first thing your vet is likely to do is palpate your cat's abdomen. This means that the vet will very gently feel your cat's belly to determine whether they are able to detect the presence of fetuses. If your cat is more than 17 days pregnant your vet may be able to confirm pregnancy in this manner.
  • Your vet may recommend a quick and easy ultrasound test to look for fetuses if your vet suspects that your cat is 14 days pregnant or more. Heartbeats can be spotted using ultrasound sometime after 21 days of pregnancy.
  • If your vet believes your cat is fairly far along in her pregnancy (further than 42 days) they may recommend an X-ray. Digital X-rays or radiographs are considered very safe and can help to determine a due date for the kittens and how many there are.

Will my pregnant cat need specialized care?

Once you know for sure that your cat is pregnant you will need to keep a few things in mind while caring for her. Your vet will provide you will a complete list of care advice and recommendations but there are a few  things worth mentioning here:

  • Do not squeeze or press on her belly, since this can cause pain and in some cases may lead to miscarriage.
  • Clean her litter box once or twice daily, and make sure that her litter box is easy for her to access as her tummy continues to expand and drop.
  • Provide your pregnant kitty with plenty of high-quality food. Your cat may eat as much as 25% more than normal while she is pregnant and nursing. Ask your vet to recommend the best food for your pregnant cat.
  • Ensure that your cat has a cozy, clean area that she can use to give birth and care for her kittens. This spot should be in a warm and quiet spot in your home, well away from kids, other human traffic, and other pets.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing signs that she may be pregnant? Contact our San Angelo veterinarians today to schedule an examination.