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How to tell if a cat is pregnant & care for them

Caring for your cat through their pregnancy can be a stressful, emotional, yet highly rewarding experience for both you and your pet.


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Article checked by a vet
Article checked by a vet

If you’re expecting some little bundles of fun in the near future, you need to know what kind of physical and behavioural changes are on the horizon for your cat, and how best to care for them during this journey.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at how to tell if a cat is pregnant, pregnant cat behaviour, and how to make this chapter in your cat’s life as healthy and comfortable for them as possible.

How soon can you tell if a cat is pregnant?

When wondering how to tell if a cat is pregnant, it’s important to know when you can expect the first signs. Generally, the first signs of pregnancy in cats begin to show around two to three weeks after they mate. 

Remember that the physical and behavioural signs of pregnancy in your cat can be the signs of other changes in your cat’s health, and it’s always crucial to get an accurate confirmation through a veterinary consultation.

What are the signs of cat pregnancy?

If you’re aware that your unneutered female cat has mated, the next question on your mind will naturally be “how do I know if my cat is pregnant?” 

Around two to three weeks after conception, a pregnant cat’s nipples will “pink up”, becoming large and red. A pregnant cat belly will become visibly larger around 30 days after mating. You can expect your cat’s weight to increase over the course of the pregnancy, and a veterinarian will be able to advise you on what’s a healthy rate of weight gain. 

Many pregnant cats will also display an increased appetite from the 30 day mark. If you notice that your cat is not eating, despite being well into their pregnancy term, this could be symptomatic of another medical issue, and you should always consult your vet about this.

Common behavioural changes in a pregnant cat include sleeping more than usual, eating smaller amounts of food but on more frequent occasions, preferring to graze their meals during both the day and night, and acting more affectionately towards you.

Physical changes during pregnancy

Pregnant cats will typically display a number of physical changes, including:

  • Your cat stops going into heat.
  • Swollen, reddened nipples.
  • The development of a large pregnant cat belly.
  • Lower appetite 30 days after mating, followed by an increased appetite for the remainder of the pregnancy.
  • Some cats may feel nauseous and could even vomit, but be otherwise well in themselves (just like 'morning sickness' in human pregnancy). If the vomiting is frequent, lasts a few days or the cat seems lethargic or unwell it's important to consult your vet.

When looking at how to tell if a cat is pregnant, remember that these physical signs are not always indicative of a pregnancy. Always consult a vet if you think your cat is pregnant so that they can confirm this with an abdominal examination or ultrasound.

Personality changes during pregnancy

When wondering “how do i know if my cat is pregnant?” there are many tell-tale signs of pregnant cat behaviour you can look out for:

  • Sleeping more often.
  • Becoming more affectionate.
  • Becoming aggressive and territorial.
  • Looking for a suitable kittening bed/nest in the final 1-2 weeks of pregnancy.

Just like humans, pregnant cat behaviour will depend on the individual, and you may not notice much of a change at all. The important thing to bear in mind through these changes is to respect your cat’s needs as much as possible (e.g petting them more or giving them their space), and avoid causing unnecessary stress.

How do you check a pregnant cat?

As the pregnancy develops and you begin to notice visible abdominal distension (enlargement) in your cat, you may even be able to see movement in a pregnant cat belly as the kittens get bigger and become more active in the womb. 

You may want to ask your vet how to tell if a cat is pregnant from home. Though it’s understandable that you’ll want to be involved in this important phase of your pet’s life, the short answer to this is “don’t”.

We strongly recommend that you avoid trying to check that your cat is pregnant yourself, and leaving this to your vet to prevent any risk of harming your cat or their litter.

When to consult a veterinarian?

Just as you’d consult a doctor regarding a human pregnancy, it’s essential to consult your vet the moment that you suspect your cat is pregnant. A vet’s prenatal care will ensure the health of your cat and her litter throughout the pregnancy, and checking in with your vet often will ensure that you can catch and treat any potential issues as early as possible.

You can expect your vet to carry out various tests both to confirm your cat’s pregnancy and ensure that the entire term goes as smoothly as possible. Ultrasounds can be used to assess the litter’s foetal development and check for abnormalities. Your vet may also carry out blood tests to check for conditions that can affect your cat’s pregnancy. Throughout the pregnancy, vets can also advise on proper nutrition and how to adjust to physical and behavioural changes in your cat through the pregnancy and delivery.

Caring for a cat during pregnancy

There are various steps you can take to keep your cat and her litter happy and healthy throughout their pregnancy. In terms of nutrition, weaning your cat gradually onto a quality and nutritious kitten food like Perfect Fit™ Junior Cat food will ensure she gets the extra nutrients she needs while eating for both herself and the kittens in utero.

Creating a proper environment for your pregnant cat is another important aspect to consider. Your cat will naturally want to “nest”, meaning they’ll find a warm, clean, and quiet area where they can give birth. Try to give your cat an appropriate kittening area in a part of the house she’s comfortable in, that stays warm, and has a semi-enclosed space like a roofed cat bed or a cardboard box.

All cats will have different needs in terms of the level of veterinary attention they need over the course of their pregnancy. Generally though, you can expect your vet to schedule appointments for the early, middle, and late stages of their pregnancy, as well as a postnatal checkup.

Preparing the arrival of new kittens

Once you’ve answered the question “how do i know if my cat is pregnant?”, you’ll naturally want to plan ahead for the big day. Cats have a total gestation period of 63 to 65 days (about 9 weeks) and can have 4-6 kittens in a litter. This can be overwhelming to say the least if you’re not prepared for it, so make sure things are ready for your new arrivals!

There are many ways to care for newborn kitten you should prepare for as you enter the late stages of your cat’s pregnancy.

Some of the things you should prepare for include:

  • Creating a checklist of food, treats, hygiene supplies, and accessories you’ll need to care for the litter. Read our new kitten checklist for more details on what you should buy to prepare for your new arrivals.
  • Reading up on what to expect during the cat’s labour and delivery. Most pregnant cats will want to deliver the kittens alone but you should know what to look for and when it's appropriate to step in and if needed. This includes the normal duration of delivery, how to properly remove the sac from newborn kittens, and how to dispose of the placenta.
  • Postnatal care, including preparing a quiet, peaceful space where your cat can bond with their kittens undisturbed.

Once your kitten reaches 6-12 months of age, you can introduce Perfect Fit™ Junior Cat food to support their growth with specially tailored nutrition designed for kittens.

Final thoughts

Pregnancy in cats can be a daunting, but exceptionally fulfilling time for both you and your pet. We hope this guide has given you a better idea of how to tell if a cat is pregnant, what to expect when your cat’s expecting, and how to ensure your cat and her litter have the most comfortable and stress-free experience possible.

While your cat is nursing her litter, she should be fed kitten food rich in nutrients to help support her health. When the kittens grow to 3-4 weeks of age, Perfect Fit™ Kitten food is ideal for weaning young cats off their mother’s milk.

To help maintain other aspects of your cat’s health and ensure they’re getting all the right nutrition, be sure to check out our range of Advanced Nutrition Perfect Fit™ Cat food.