Signs a Cat Is Pregnant

Cat Reproduction 101: Find Out If Your Cat Is Pregnant

Photo of Pregnant Street Cat
Pregnant Street Cat. photo © Getty Images / Manuel Velasco

If your cat was recently in heat and had access to a whole male cat, the likelihood that she is pregnant is very strong. A pregnant queen will display both physical and personality changes which will become more evident around three weeks after breeding. The gestation period for cats runs between 60 to 67 days. You may decide that using 63 days as an average gestation period is memorable and easier to equate with human gestation (nine weeks vs nine months).

Physical Changes in a Pregnant Cat

  • Heat Cycles Cease. This will be the first sign you may notice. If a cat has been suffering heat cycles every 10 days to two weeks, and suddenly stops, it is very likely she is pregnant.

  • Nipples Swell and Become Rosier in Color. Breeders call this "pinking," and it may be the first physical sign you will see in a pregnant cat.

  • Cat's Appetite Increases. A pregnant cat will show an increased interest in food. After all, a pregnant cat is not only eating for herself, but for several fetuses.

  • Possible Vomiting. Pregnant queens may be subject to a few bouts of "morning sickness," much as human mothers-to-be. This in itself is not necessarily cause for alarm, but if the vomiting continues or is frequent, veterinarian intervention is needed.

  • Abdominal Enlargement. Sometime around the fifth week of pregnancy, a pregnant cat's abdomen will start to swell noticeably, and it will continue to enlarge until time for birthing.

    Personality Changes in a Pregnant Cat

    • Increased Affection. Your cat may become more affectionate than normal and frequently seek out your attention. By all means, give it to her!

    • "Nesting" Activities by a Pregnant Cat. Nesting activities are not an early sign of pregnancy, but as the time for parturition and birth approaches, your pregnant cat may seek out quiet, private places for the birth to take place.

      Clinical Diagnosis of Pregnancy in Cats

      If your queen has had regular veterinary care and the previous signs of pregnancy are evident, it may not be necessary to have an "official" diagnosis by a veterinarian. Unless you have reason to fear something is wrong, you can skip the veterinarian's office. However, if your intent is to spay her, it is highly recommended that you make an appointment so that your veterinarian knows exactly what to expect.

      • Palpation of the Cat's Abdomen. Your veterinarian may be able to feel your pregnant cat's fetuses by palpating and gently pressing on her abdomen. This typically happens around the 17th to 20th day of pregnancy.

      • Ultrasound of Your Cat's Abdomen. An ultrasound may detect fetuses as early as the second week of pregnancy, and heartbeats may be detected sometime after the third week.

      If your resident or rescued cat is indeed confirmed pregnant, some serious decision-making time is at hand. For help with this decision, consider your kitten options before birthing time.