How to Tell if a Cat is Pregnant
Have you recently noticed a change in your female cat, and you’re wondering if she’s pregnant? Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your cat is expecting a litter of kittens until much later in her pregnancy. However, there are some ways to be able to figure out if your cat is on her way to becoming a mom!
Physical Signs Your Cat is Pregnant
The first way to figure out if your cat may be pregnant is by looking for physical changes and signs that something is going on. There are a few different things to look out for!
If your cat is pregnant, she will likely gain between two and four pounds throughout the course of her pregnancy. If you’ve noticed a big jump in her weight over the course of just a few weeks, a pregnancy may be behind it.
Change in Heat Cycles
When a cat gets pregnant, one of the first signs will likely be a noticeable change in her heat cycles. If your cat normally goes into heat every ten days to two weeks, then suddenly is no longer going into heat, as usual, this could be a sign of kittens on the way!
When you’re looking for a visual change in your cat, she may experience what many vets call “pinking up.” This is where the cat’s nipples become swollen and pinker than usual. This is likely one of the first changes you’ll be able to see by just looking at your cat.
When a cat first gets pregnant, she may have a noticeably smaller appetite than usual. However, around the second half of her pregnancy, her appetite will likely be much higher than normal due to the fact that she’s feeding herself and her growing kittens.
Much like humans, pregnant cats can be susceptible to morning sickness during their pregnancies. This is a normal symptom that shouldn’t concern you unless it becomes very frequent. You would then want to reach out to her vet to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
About five weeks into the pregnancy, you’ll be able to start noticing your pregnant cat’s stomach getting larger. If you were unsure whether she’s pregnant up until this point, this will be a sign that will be likely to confirm it for you.
Although cats sleep around 18 hours a day, when cats are pregnant, they may sleep even more than they usually do. After all, they’re growing one or more little kittens, which takes up a lot of energy. If you notice your female cat is sleeping more than her usual amount, pregnancy could be the cause.
Physical changes are often the most common and noticeable changes to watch for in a pregnant cat, there are also some personality changes you can watch out for as well.
If you begin to notice that your cat is much more affectionate than she usually is, this could be a sign of pregnancy. She may begin following you around more often and asking for you to pet her or cuddle with her. Of course, make sure you do all you can to meet her higher affection needs!
As the pregnancy progresses, you may notice your cat becoming more territorial than normal. She will likely begin scoping out a place to give birth, which may lead to her getting aggressive around the area if someone tries to “invade” it. Make sure to give her the space she needs while nesting to keep her happy and calm.
At the beginning of her pregnancy, your cat will likely be more affectionate. However, as the pregnancy continues, she may want to spend more time hidden and alone. This is normal and will likely be temporary. However, you will want to make sure to give her the space she wants while making sure her needs and comfort levels are met.
Your Cat is Pregnant – Now What?
If you’ve read so far and you’re fairly certain your cat is pregnant, you probably want to know what to do now! If you suspect your female cat is expecting a litter of kittens, there are some great steps you can do to set her up for a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Take Her to the Vet
The first thing you should do if you suspect your cat is pregnant is take her to the vet to confirm your suspicions. Even if you know she is definitely pregnant, it’s still a good idea to take her for a checkup to make sure she’s healthy and that the kittens are developing well.
When you take your cat to the vet to confirm her pregnancy, there are a couple of different ways her vet may choose to do it:
Palpation: between the 17th and 25th day of your cat’s pregnancy, her vet will be able to feel along your cat’s abdomen and check for the kittens inside.
Ultrasound: much like the ultrasound humans get to check on their unborn babies, cats can receive the same type of procedure. Ultrasounds are the earliest way to confirm your cat’s pregnancy, with kittens being visible around the second week and heartbeats detected around the third week.
X-ray: When your cat gets further along in her pregnancy, around 42 days, her vet can perform an x-ray to determine the number of kittens she’s carrying. This option isn’t available until later because, before 42 days, the kitten’s skulls and spines wouldn’t be visible on the x-rays.
Keep Her Healthy
One of the best things you can do for a pregnant cat is to make sure she has plenty of food and water to keep her nourishment up while she grows her babies. You may want to consider purchasing higher-quality foods that are designed especially for pregnant cats to ensure she’s getting all the nutrients she needs for herself and her kittens.
As your cat gets heavier and wider with her growing kittens, you may need to make some accommodations for her comfort. For example, when you’re cleaning her litter box, make sure it’s wide and low enough that she can comfortably get in and out of it. If you notice your cat struggling with tasks like going to the litter box, don’t be afraid to make accommodations for her.
Give Her Somewhere to Nest
As we mentioned earlier, your pregnant cat will begin trying to find somewhere to give birth through her nesting phase. Consider giving her a safe and comfortable place to nest to help her feel more at ease about the upcoming birth. Some options include a cardboard box with towels, an old cat bed, or other types of cat furniture. This assistance will help her be able to relax and prepare for the arrival of her kittens.
If you believe your cat may be pregnant, there are certain changes to watch for to confirm your suspicions. Your female cat will show changes in her personality as well as her physical appearance over her 58 to 67-day long pregnancy. If you suspect your cat is pregnant, you can take her to the vet to confirm your suspicions. Of course, the best thing you can do is make sure her nutritional needs are met and that she has somewhere comfortable to give birth!
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