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How to tell if my cat is pregnant?

Have you noticed your female cat is gaining weight and behaving more affectionately? She may be pregnant. Our vets in Des Moines share some information about pregnant cats what actions you can take to help your feline friend stay healthy.

Isn't my cat too young to be pregnant?

If your female cat hasn't been spayed and slips out of your home, she may become pregnant. 

The typical female cat experiences her first heat cycle between 4 and 7 months of age, when she is physically mature and can have her first litter of kittens. An unspayed female cat can go into heat every 3 weeks until she becomes pregnant or is spayed. 

If your cat is not spayed, she may have up to 4 litters of kittens every year, with each litter having between 4 and 12 kittens. Therefore, if your unspayed female adult cat ventures outdoors, she's at high risk of being pregnant, and you should seek veterinary care to check on the health and safety of both the mother and her potential kittens. 

Is my cat pregnant? 

While some signs of pregnancy in cats are obvious, others are behaviors that you may not immediately associate with the condition. Remember that your cat may not exhibit all of these symptoms, depending on how far along she is in her pregnancy:

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

If your cat is showing any symptoms listed above, book an examination with your vet to confirm the pregnancy and/or look for signs of underlying health issues that may be causing these symptoms. 

How do vets diagnose pregnancy in cats?

There are a few different tests that vets can do to confirm whether your cat is expecting a litter:

  • Your vet will probably first palpate your cat's abdomen. This means that the vet will 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 an ultrasound test to look for fetuses if your vet suspects that your cat is 14 days pregnant or more.
  • If your vet believes your cat is further than 42 days into their pregnancy, they may recommend an X-ray. Digital X-rays or radiographs are considered very safe and can help to determine a due date and the number of kittens to be born.

How do I take care of my pregnant cat?

Once your veterinarian has confirmed that your cat is pregnant, they will make specific recommendations on how to care for her. In general, we recommend doing the following to help your cat have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery:

  • Do not squeeze or press on her belly.
  • Your cat may eat as much as 25% more than normal while pregnant and nursing, so provide plenty of high-quality food.
  • Clean her litter box once or twice daily.
  • Ensure that her litter box is easy to access as her tummy continues to expand and drop.
  • 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 warm and quiet in your home, well away from kids, other human traffic, and other pets.

How can I tell if my cat is about to give birth?

Some signs that your cat is about to give birth include restlessness, nesting behavior, and a loss of appetite. You may also notice your cat licking her genitals more frequently and seeking out a secluded area to give birth.

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.

Do you suspect your cat may be pregnant? Contact our Des Moines vets to book an examination for your kitty companion.

Welcoming Your Pets to Our Animal Hospital 

Des Moines Veterinary Hospital welcomes cats, dogs, fish, small mammals, and their owners to our clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Des Moines companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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