Did you know that unspayed female cats can get pregnant as soon as they turn four to six months old? They are known to be “induced ovulators,” releasing eggs due to external stimuli such as the physical act of mating or mechanical stimulation. A female cat can go into heat every two to three weeks from spring to early fall, with her gestation period lasting around three months (63 to 65 days).
If you suspect that your unspayed cat is pregnant, there are 7 ways to confirm her state. However, you won’t be able to see these marked changes until two to three weeks after she procreates:
1 Her nipples are enlarged and pinkish in colour.
Also called “pinking up,” your cat’s nipples have changed from their usual colour and turned pink or red. The nipples have noticeably grown in size, and sometimes, the hair around them have lessened to give clearer access to milk feeding.
2 Your cat is experiencing morning sickness.
Whether it’s puking what she eats or a marked lack of appetite, some cats may experience morning sickness during the first few weeks of their pregnancy. The changes in her uterus as well as the surge of hormones may cause her to feel exhausted and sleep longer.
3 She has a larger tummy and a swayback posture.
Starting around the fifth week of pregnancy, your cat’s tummy will become unmistakably round until it’s time for her to give birth to her litter. Due to the added ball-shaped weight in her belly, her spine may bend, causing the back to sink and develop the “mule look.”
4 Her body weight and appetite have increased.
Pregnant cats carry an average of four kittens in one litter, so it’s no surprise that her intake of food will increase by 50 percent. She should be fed specialised, high-quality pregnant cat food rich in protein, vitamins, and omega-6 that will nourish the growing kittens in her belly. Unsurprisingly, she will also gain two to four pounds throughout the course of her pregnancy.
5 She becomes extra affectionate or territorial.
Changing moods can also be a sign of pregnancy in female cats. Some cats become more affectionate, while others turn into highly territorial creatures. If she frequently purrs and seeks out your attention, be sure to reciprocate her actions. If she becomes distant toward you (or even your other pets), give her the space she wants while making sure her needs are being met.
6 Your cat is queening.
Queening is the term for cats about to go into labor. During this time (around two weeks before her due date), your cat searches for a comfortable place where she can give birth. Help her secure a safe, quiet, and warm place inside your house. More importantly, be ready to provide her with a birthing box filled with shredded newspaper, blankets, or towels. To encourage your cat to sleep in it, place her drinking and feeding dishes and litter box next to it.
7 Take her to the veterinarian.
Confirm your cat is pregnant by taking her to the veterinarian for an ultrasound (to see if she’s really pregnant) or an X-ray (to discover how many kittens to expect). Note that viruses may be passed on to unborn kittens, so make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Discuss what special considerations need to be taken, so that your cat may be relaxed and comfortable throughout her gestation.
When your cat goes into nesting mode, take her to the vet once more to make sure everything is in order. Get advice on pre- and post-delivery procedures, as well as what to do in case emergencies arise. Two telltale signs that your cat is ready to give birth is that she stops eating for 24 hours, and her temperature drops below 100°F.
By this point, you can tell if your cat is pregnant. Unless unavoidable, have your kitten spayed before her first heat or before she reaches five months of age. Spaying prevents unnecessary births (cats can have four litters per year, so just imagine taking care of all those kittens!) as well as the possibility of uterine infections and breast tumors. Consult with your veterinarian about the best time to have her spay surgery. If your kitten is still too young to be spayed, keep her safely indoors. That will reduce the risk of unwanted interaction with male cats.
To discover more about what it takes to adopt a cat from a rescue shelter, we’ve got all the information you need right here. You can also read more cat-related guides and adoption and foster stories on our site.