Is my cat old enough to be pregnant?
Do you have a female cat who hasn't been spayed? Perhaps she's managed to escape the safety of your home and there is a good chance that she may be pregnant. Your female cat will probably experience her first heat cycle at around 4 to 7 months of age, meaning that by this point she has physically matured and will be able to produce her first litter of kittens.
Depending on where you live, your unaltered female cat may go into heat as often as every three weeks until she is either spayed or becomes pregnant.
An unspayed female cat can birth as many as four litters of kittens per year, with between 4 to 12 kittens in each litter. So, if your cat is an unspayed adult female that is able to access the outdoor world, there is a good chance that she's expecting kittens.
Is my cat pregnant?
With domesticated cats, pregnancy can last about 2 months, so the first question to ask yourself is whether your cat may have been outside over the past 8 weeks. If so, here are some other signs of pregnancy in cats that you may want to watch for. Keep in mind that your cat may not exhibit all the signs listed here, depending on how far along the pregnancy is.
- Hiding more often
- May sleep more than usual
- Significant weight gain
- Pink, swollen nipples
- Becoming more affectionate
- Increased appetite
- Distended abdomen
If your kitty is showing the signs above and has not been spayed, it's time to contact your vet and book an examination to confirm pregnancy and/or check for signs of any underlying health issues that may be causing these symptoms.
How will my vet know if my cat is pregnant?
There are a few different tests that vets can do to confirm whether your kitty is pregnant:
- 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 are able to 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?
Once your vet has confirmed that your feline friend is pregnant they will provide you with specific recommendations on how to care for your pregnant kitty. That said, there are a number of things that are generally recommended in order 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.