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How to Tell If My Cat Is Pregnant

Unspayed female cats can quickly become pregnant with even a single adventure outside the home. They can also have more than one litter each year. Here, our emergency vets in Lacey share the answer to 'How to tell if my cat is pregnant' and what to expect during pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Is my cat pregnant?

If your unspayed female cat managed to escape the safety of your home, there is a good chance she may be pregnant. Around four to seven 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 three weeks until she becomes pregnant or spayed. An unspayed female cat could have as many as 4 litters of kittens a year, with 4 to 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

Pregnancy in domesticated cats lasts about two months, so the first question to ask yourself is whether your cat has been outside over the past eight weeks. 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 below, depending on how far along the pregnancy is.

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

If you spot any of the signs above, contact your vet. They will perform an examination and diagnostics to confirm pregnancy and offer care recommendations and advice.

Diagnosing Pregnancy in Cats

There are a few different approaches your vet could take to confirm whether your feline family member is pregnant:

  • The first thing your vet is likely to do is to 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 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 (more than 42 days), they may recommend an X-ray. Digital X-rays or radiographs are considered very safe and can help determine a due date for the kittens and how many there are.

Caring For Pregnant Cats

Once your cat's pregnancy has been confirmed, your vet will provide specific recommendations on how to care for them. Below are a few dos and don'ts to help your cat have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

  • 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 it is easy for her to access as her tummy continues to expand and drop.
  • Feed your pregnant kitty healthy portions of high-quality food. Your cat may eat 25% more than normal while pregnant and nursing. Ask your vet to recommend the best food for your pregnant cat.
  • Provide a cozy, clean area for her to give birth and care for her kittens. This spot should be in a warm and quiet area of your home, well away from kids, other human traffic, and other pets.

Signs That Indicate Labor

some of the obvious signs of labor in cats include:

  • Nesting behavior and appetite loss
  • Restlessness and increased vocalization
  • Rapid breathing and temperature changes
  • Visible contractions and straining

Potential Issues During Delivery

If your cat is showing any signs of complications during labor or delivery of their kittens, don't hesitate to contact our emergency vets immediately. Some of the signs of complications include:

  • No kitten after an hour of straining
  • Fresh bleeding 10 or more minutes after delivering a kitten
  • Abrupt lethargy and fatigue
  • Labor ends, and your cat is agitated
  • More than two or three hours between kittens

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 having issues birthing her kittens, please contact our emergency vets in Lacey immediately. 

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Olympia Pet Emergency, you can always access our full complement of emergency services without an appointment. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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