Camille Carpenter was surprised one fall morning when she found her cat snuggled in a corner of her closet surrounded by newborn kittens. Carpenter had no idea that her cat was pregnant or she would have provided more comfortable accommodation for the mom-to-be as well as getting advice from her vet about how to best care for a pregnant cat.
For outdoor cats that are not fixed, it is pretty near a certainty that they are going to become pregnant. That is why it is always a good idea to have your cat spayed or neutered if they spend any time at all outdoors. Some experts recommend that even indoor cats be spayed or neutered as it provides overall health benefits to the cat as well as helping to cut down on the ever growing population of unwanted kittens, many of which wind up at animal shelters around the country.
If, however, your cat is not fixed, it is a good idea to keep your eyes open for the signs that she might be pregnant so that you don’t end up with the same kind of surprise as Camille.
Keep in mind that cats as young as four month old can become pregnant. There are more health risks involved when the cat is that young, so special attention from your vet would be required in order to ensure the health of your cat and her kittens.
Change in the Nipples One of the first signs to look for is a change in the size or appearance of the cat’s nipples. Particularly look for the color of the nipples. If they appear to be more pink than normal, that is a sign that the cat is pregnant. Of course, if your cat has very thick fur, this is not something that will be noticed very easily.
No Heat Cycle If you notice that your cat has not gone into heat again following her last heat cycle, that is a good sign that she is pregnant. Cats that are not pregnant will usually go into heat within weeks of the previous heat cycle.
A Bigger Appetite If you notice that your cat is eating more than usual, that is a sign that she may be pregnant. Because she is eating for herself and her babies, your vet may suggest a specific diet. That is just one of the reasons that it is important to learn of your cat’s pregnancy as soon as possible.
Morning Sickness Pregnant cats are subject to hormonal changes that are similar to those that humans realize when they are expecting. For this reason, the same type of morning sickness that affects people, can also affect some cats. If you notice that your cat is especially lacking in energy or is not eating the same amount she usually eats in the morning, this could be a sign of pregnancy.
Personality Changes If your normally aloof cat suddenly craves your attention that is a signal that she may be expecting. Watch for any change in personality as it may be a cause of hormonal changes brought on my pregnancy.
While the early stages of pregnancy may bring out the sweet side of your cat, in the time just before she is to give birth, you may notice that she is a bit more grumpy than usual. Also, you may see that she spends more time grooming, particularly in the genital area.
Change in Size of Abdomen One of the most obvious signs that your cat may be pregnant is an increase in the size of her abdomen. It is not good to rely solely on this sign of pregnancy, however, as it will not manifest itself until several weeks into the pregnancy. Your cat should be seen by a vet as early in the pregnancy as possible. That is why it is important to watch for all signs of pregnancy rather than relying on this one.
Nesting If you notice that your cat is “setting up housekeeping” in a corner of your home, under the bed, in a closet or in any other out of way spot, that may be because she is looking for the perfect spot in which to have her kittens.
Keep in mind that cats may exhibit signs of pregnancy, but not actually be pregnant. False pregnancies in cats are more common than some might think. If you suspect your cat may be pregnant, the only way to find out for sure is to have her examined by your vet.
Get to the vet as soon as possible if you think your cat may be pregnant. Just as for people, there are certain precautions and other medical advice that is important to the health of your cat and her new kittens.
Responsible pet owners will never allow their pet to become pregnant unless they are 100% sure that they will able to find wonderful homes for every kitten born in the litter. Unless you plan to breed or show your cat, the best course of action is to have your pet spayed or neutered as soon as she is old enough for the procedure.