If your female cat has begun gaining weight rapidly, you might be wondering if she is pregnant. Here, our Erin vets share some ways you can tell if your cat is pregnant and what you should do.
At What Age Can Cats Get Pregnant?
If you have an unspayed female cat who has access to the outdoors, there is a good chance she can get pregnant. When your female cat is around 4 - 7 months of age she is likely to experience her first heat cycle, which means she is physically mature and can produce her first litter of kittens.
Depending on where you live, your undoctored female cat may go into heat as often as every 3 weeks until she either becomes pregnant or is spayed. An unspayed female cat could have as many as 4 litters of kittens per year, with between 4-12 kittens in each litter. This means that if your adult female cat isn't spayed and has had access to the outside world, there is a good chance she is expecting kittens.
How To Tell If My Cat Is Pregnant
Pregnancy in domesticated cats is roughly 2 months, so the first question you should ask yourself is if your cat has been outside over the past 8 weeks. If so, here are some other signs of pregnancy in cats you should monitor for. Keep in mind that your kitty may not display all of the signs listed below, depending on how far along her pregnancy is.
- Notable weight gain
- Distended abdomen
- Hiding more often
- Pink, swollen nipples
- May sleep more than usual
- Increased appetite
- Becoming more affectionate
If your cat is exhibiting any of the signs detailed above and hasn't been spayed, it's time to bring them to the vet for an examination, so your veterinarian can confirm the pregnancy and/or check for signs of any underlying health concerns that could be causing these symptoms.
How Your Vet Can Tell If Your Cat is Pregnant
There are a few different diagnostic tests that vets can perform to confirm whether your cat is pregnant:
- Your vet will likely start by palpating your cat's abdomen. This means your 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 might be able to confirm the pregnancy without additional testing.
- Your vet might suggest conducting a quick and easy ultrasound test to look for fetuses if your vet thinks your cat is 14 days pregnant or more. Heartbeats can be detected 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.
How To Care For Your Pregnant Cat
After your vet has confirmed your female cat's pregnancy, they will provide you with specific recommendations on how to care for your pregnant kitty. That said, there are a handful of things that are generally recommended in order to help a cat have a healthy and safe pregnancy and birth.
- Give your pregnant cat lots of high-quality food. Your cat could eat as much as 25% more than usual while they are pregnant and nursing. Ask your vet to recommend the best food for your pregnant cat.
- 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.
- Do not squeeze or press on her belly, since this can cause pain and in some cases could result in a miscarriage.
- Make sure 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.