Do you have an unspayed female cat who has access to the outdoors? Is she suddenly seeming rounder or displaying strange behaviors? She may be carrying kittens! Our vets in Nashua talk about how to tell that your cat is pregnant including the most common signs and how to care for them through pregnancy.
At what age can a cat become pregnant?
If you have a female cat that hasn't been spayed and manages to escape your home, she may likely become pregnant.
Female cats typically experience their first heat cycle between 4-7 months of age, which means they're physically mature and can have their first litter of kittens. An unspayed female cat can go into heat every 3 weeks until she becomes pregnant or is spayed.
Without spaying, she could have up to 4 litters of kittens a year, with each litter having between 4-12 kittens. Therefore, if your unspayed adult female cat has been outdoors, there's a high chance she is pregnant, and you should seek veterinary care to ensure the health and safety of both the mother and her potential kittens.
Is My Cat Pregnant?
If you are asking 'How to tell if my cat is pregnant?', there are a few common signs that you should watch for. Note that your cat may not display all of the signs below, depending on how far along the pregnancy is. These signs are:
- Becoming more affectionate
- Notable weight gain
- Pink, swollen nipples
- Distended abdomen
- Increased appetite
- Hiding more often
- May sleep more than usual
If your cat is exhibiting the symptoms above, it's time to head to the vet for an examination to confirm pregnancy and/or check for signs of any underlying health concerns that could be causing these symptoms.
How do vets diagnose pregnancy in cats?
There are a few different ways that a vet can confirm that your cat is pregnant including:
- 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 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 the due date and how many kittens your cat is carrying.
How to Care For Your Pregnant Cat
Once your vet has diagnosed your cat's pregnancy, they can offer care recommendations. Here is some easy-to-follow advice when caring for a pregnant cat:
- 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.
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.