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How can I tell if my cat is pregnant?

If your female cat isn't fixed and she finds her way outside or meets an intact male you could be surprised with a rounder kitty in the near future. Below, our Orange vets share the signs that your cat might be pregnant, how pregnancy will be diagnosed and how you can care for them during this time.

Is my cat pregnant?

When unspayed kitties make their way outside there's a good chance that they may return pregnant. Around 4 - 7 months of age, your female cat is likely to experience her first heat cycle, meaning that 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 becomes pregnant or is spayed. An unspayed female cat could have as many as 4 litters of kittens a year, with between 4 - 12 kittens in each litter. This means that if your cat is an unspayed adult female who has had access to the outdoor world, there is a good chance that she is expecting kittens.

How to Tell if my Cat is Pregnant

A cat is usually pregnant for about 8 weeks. So if your cat has been exploring during that time then you may want to consider that they might be pregnant. If so, below are some other signs of pregnancy in cats that you may want to look for. Note that your cat may not display all of the signs. So when you ask 'How can I tell if my cat is pregnant?', here are the common signs:

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

If your cat has not been spayed and is showing any combination of the signs listed above, it's time to head to the vet for an examination to confirm pregnancy and/or check for signs of any underlying health concerns that could be causing these symptoms.

How is pregnancy diagnosed in cats?

Some of the diagnostic tests that your vet will use to determine if your cat is pregnant include:

  • The first thing your vet is likely to do is to palpate your cat's abdomen. This means that the vet will very gently feel your cat's belly to determine whether they can 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.

How do I care for my pregnant cat?

If your cat has been diagnosed with pregnancy, your vet will offer you advice and provide you with information about what to expect and how to care for your kitty. That said, several things are generally recommended to help a cat have a healthy and safe pregnancy and birth.

  • 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.

If your cat is showing strange symptoms or behaviors that you can't explain, please contact our Vet4HealthyPet vets to schedule an appointment.

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