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Signs a Cat Is Pregnant: How to Tell if a Cat Is Pregnant?

The information contained in this article is for educational purpose and should not be taken as a substitute for your vet’s opinion, as much depends on circumstances and history peculiar to each pet.

Surprise, surprise! I am expecting!

You weren’t expecting? Not my fault! You should have had me spayed. You know how things get when I’m on heat. And then you left the window open—I couldn’t stop myself from sneaking out to see the neighbor’s tom.

Cat pregnancy comes as a surprise to most cat owners. They delay getting their baby kitten spayed, thinking, “she is not even one.” They don’t know that kittens become able to breed at the tender age of four months. So if you are not planning on breeding your kitten, you should get her spayed before she turns four.

Identifying Cat Pregnancy Can Be a Hard Nut to Crack

Telling if a cat is pregnant can be a hard nut to crack in some cases, especially at early cat pregnancy stages. Most cat owners think that their cat is just growing fat due to extra caloric intake from delicious cat treats.

If your cat appears to be gaining weight and you have not spayed it, you must be worrying: Is my cat pregnant? How to tell if a cat is pregnant?

Well, continue reading this article, and by the end, you will know if your cat is pregnant or not for sure, or at least you will know how you can make sure.

Importance of Identifying Cat Pregnancy at an Early Stage

If your cat is pregnant, it is crucial that you identify it at an early stage so that you can decide whether to continue the pregnancy or get your cat spayed and terminate the pregnancy. If you decide to continue with the pregnancy, you can provide the best possible care to your cat, like switching to kitten food and familiarizing yourself with the cat parturition process like cat pregnancy and labor stages and learn how to care for a pregnant cat.

Though a pregnant cat does not require much extra care, knowing if a cat is pregnant helps cat owners prepare for the big day and make arrangements for the incoming litter.

So without further ado, let’s learn how to tell if your cat is pregnant.

How to Tell If a Cat is Pregnant?

While telling if a cat is pregnant can be a bit tricky, if you familiarize yourself with the signs of a pregnant cat, you will be able to tell if your cat is just fat or kittens are growing inside her.  

No Signs of Heat

Unspayed cats, also known as Queens, go into to heat for an average of six days, every two to three weeks, until they get pregnant or spayed. During heat, your cat will be exhibiting several off behaviors like loud and meows, excessive grooming, and attempts to escape from home in search of a mate.

So if your cat has been exhibiting these unusual behaviors every other week and then suddenly stopped, know that she has become pregnant.

Pinking and Enlargement of Nipples

While it is pretty hard to locate nipples on a regular cat as cat nipples are small, covered with hair, and camouflaged with the skin color, pregnant cat nipples are enlarged and reddened. This process of pregnant cat nipples enlargement and darkening is known as pinking and usually occurs during the second or third week of pregnancy.

Swollen nipples could be infected!

If your cat is showing no other signs of pregnancy—neither her appetite has increased, nor she is experiencing morning sickness—chances are your cat is not pregnant (litter of kittens dodged). But the sad part is that it might be mastitis—inflammation of mammary glands due to a bacterial infection.

Morning Sickness

Just like pregnant humans, morning sickness is an unmissable sign of pregnancy in cats. With the surge of hormones and changes in the uterus, your cat will be fatigued. She may also experience vomiting. Pregnant cat vomiting is quite normal; besides extra cleaning, you have nothing to worry about until it is controlled. However, if vomiting continues, you should take your cat to a vet.

Weight Gain

As a pregnant cat is growing a kitten inside her belly, she is going to gain some weight. However, the gain is quite less than what you may think—only about half a pound to the one pound, depending on the number of kittens in the litter.

Characteristic Burro Shaped Belly

Weight gain during pregnancy is not the usual weight gain—a cat is heavier all over and not just the abdomen. Weight gain in pregnant cats is localized in her belly, wherein kittens are growing. As growing kittens need some room to grow, the cat’s belly would get bigger. Your pregnant cat belly will be round and bulging. The weight gain and bulging belly start happening from the 5th week of pregnancy. 

Don’t Rub at Your Pregnant Cat Belly to Feel the Kittens!

You must be tempted to prod your pregnant cat belly to feel the kittens growing inside and to check how many kittens are in there. However, it is strongly advised that you either don’t do it or be extra cautious and gentle as you may end up hurting the unborn kittens or causing miscarriage.

Increased Appetite

Given that your Queen has kittens growing inside her belly, she will have increased appetite. The increased interest in food during pregnancy is also responsible for weight gain. However, if your cat is experiencing morning sickness, she may show little to no interest in food. In the latter case, you can try luring her to eat by offering the best cat treats.

Increased Affection

Cats are super affectionate creatures. In general, cats are the most affectionate in the mornings, but during pregnancy, they will be affectionate and snuggly almost all the time. They will be purring to seek your attention and laying on your chest. So you may often wake up to your pregnant cat sleeping on top of you because you are warm and cozy.

The nesting behaviors will become more noticeable in the last days of the cat gestation period. You can provide your cat with a comfy cat bed and some blankets or towels to make a comfortable place for giving birth to her kittens.

How to Tell if Your Cat Is Pregnant for Sure?

The above-discussed signs of a pregnant cat may give you an idea that your cat is pregnant. However, if you want to confirm the pregnancy, we advise you to take her to a vet and not prod her belly to check if you can feel kittens inside as this may hurt your cat and kittens inside. The vet will run some cat pregnancy tests to confirm pregnancy.

Feeling Cat Belly

An experienced veterinarian can feel the embryos of your cat by gently rubbing her belly. After 17 to 25 days of pregnancy, a vet can tell if there are any kittens inside. However, this feeling test is not always accurate.

Leave the Feeling To the Vet!

If you try prodding your cat’s belly looking for embryos, you may end up hurting your cat or her kittens.

Ultrasound

Where a feeling test may not confirm pregnancy 100%, an ultrasound can confirm pregnancy by day 16 into pregnancy. With ultrasound, the vet can detect the fetal heartbeat and thus can also confirm the number of kittens your cat is carrying.

X-rays

X-rays can also confirm pregnancy, but given the side-effects of radiations, x-rays are not recommended until 55 days of pregnancy. That said, no x-rays should be done before at least 42 days of pregnancy. X-rays can also tell the number of kittens to expect, but the number is not always correct.

Final Verdict: How to Tell if a Cat Is Pregnant?

Telling if your cat is pregnant boils down to learning the signs of cat pregnancy and then observing your cat that has been putting on some weight all of a sudden. The most common signs of cat pregnancy are ceasing of the heat cycle, pinking and enlargement of nipples, morning sickness, increased affection, and increased appetite coupled with weight gain and development of the characteristic burrow-shaped belly.

If these signs seem not to work, you can take your cat to a vet to feel her belly and tell if kittens are growing inside. The vet can also perform an ultrasound or x-ray to confirm pregnancy and tell the number of kittens you should be expecting.

If your cat is pregnant, you might find the following articles resourceful.

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