Cat Pregnancy

Pregnant cat
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Pregnant cat Рphoto ©fofurasfelinas


What are the symptoms of cat pregnancy? It takes approximately three weeks before there are any noticeable signs of pregnancy. Cat owners everywhere will be able to recognize their cat’s pregnancy symptoms. If you have an idea that your cat might be pregnant, check her nipples. After approximately three weeks, they become pink (see the picture below, which is very illustrative of this cat pregnancy symptom). She will show progressive abdominal extension and possible mammary gland enlargement.

If this is a first time pregnancy for your cat, this is the most accurate sign. After six weeks your cat’s nipples will grow a great deal. From that period on, the nipples are filled with milk. It will then take about six weeks until the kittens arrive.

There are also other signs of cat pregnancy. She will become quieter and will appear to be more loving. A veterinarian can carry out a diagnosis, which is relatively straightforward. Beyond 30 days of her pregnancy your vet will be able to feel your cat’s uterus through the abdominal wall. The foetal swellings can be felt. This test should only be carried out by a vet as it is possible to damage the foetus. The gestation period is about 66 days.

Useful links
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FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
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From as early as 15 days pregnant a vet can use ultrasound to detect cat pregnancy. Ultrasound can be used to monitor progress. X-Rays are not necessary (X-Rays can damage in overdose anyway). The ideal litter size is about 4 kittens.

Update: feline gestation period (and some more on signs and testing for pregnancy)


Your pregnant female will naturally want to sleep more, and they couldn’t care less about any male cats! The heat cycles stop. If your cat is used to being outside, she will want to spend more time in the house during the gestation period.

Keeping your pregnant cat inside is preferable. If she manages to get out, it might be useful that your feline is wearing a collar and cat tag (but collars can be dangerous).

You should also try to have your pregnant female cat checked out by your veterinarian. Do this before she becomes pregnant, if possible. Pregnancy is an energy sapping experience. Therefore, you should make sure that your pregnant queen stays as healthy as possible through the gestation periods. Your cat should not be given any medication during this time unless there is an emergency.

Don’t get worried if your pregnant cat starts to sleep more and more. Inactivity and rest are perfectly normal during feline gestation.

How should you take care of your pregnant cat? First of all, she should be fed a kitten formulation of cat food. We have always used Purina Kitten Chow (USA) which seems to work very well. This should be given to your female during the entire pregnancy and while she is nursing her little ones.

Pregnant cat
Cat pregnancy – Pregnant cat – photo Alice J-T

During pregnancy the female cat’s food consumption increases and will reach approximately 1.5 times her level than before she was pregnant. When you come to the end of the nursing period, her food consumption may exceed twice her pre-pregnancy amount. Do not withhold any food from your pregnant feline. You should probably increase the number of feedings each day during cat pregnancy. This allows her to satisfy her needs as well as those of her unborn kittens.

During cat pregnancy she may find that it is hard to clean herself. Groom her quite regularly and if she doesn’t mind it clean her bottom with a damp cloth that is soft.

Giving birth is a natural process, and it is no different for cats. She will rely on her maternal instincts. All you have to do is stay by her side during the birthing process to monitor what happens. Only intervene if something goes awry.

Approximately two weeks before your cat gives birth, put a box in a location that your cat can visit frequently. Make sure that the box is in a warm room. The box should contain a shredded material such as paper. Once the kittens are born, a blanket will be needed. It would be an even better idea if you placed a few boxes in strategic locations. However, don’t be surprised if at the last moment she disappears under your bed or gets into your wardrobe! The important thing is not to disturb her.

One thing you want to make sure that you do is to keep the doors closed. You definitely do not want your cat to give birth outside.


How do you prevent cat pregnancy? There is only one way that this can be accomplished. It is to have your cat spayed. Spaying is a surgical procedure whereby the female reproductive organs are removed. It is usually performed at about six months although now the procedure is being done on younger kittens. This will not only stop your cat from getting pregnant, but there will be no more annoying heat cycles that you will have to go through! Spaying also helps prevent certain kinds of cancer later on in your cat’s life.

Hopefully, you have found this article very informative. We have witnessed our cats giving birth three times already and each is a miracle in itself. They needed no help from any human outsiders but we were always standing by to help. Do the same for your pregnant cat. She will love you for it!

Heat cycles

Sexual maturity in the female cat begins at about aged 7-12 months (males are sexually mature about 1-2 months later in life). Females stop reproducing at about 14 years of age or less. Males can go on for several years longer.

A non-altered female has repeated heat (oestrous or estrous or in fact estrus) cycles for a part of the year and for the remainder of the year she is sexually inactive. An estrus cyle is one in which the female is receptive to the male advances. The length of time she is on heat is variable being between 5 days to 3 weeks. The amount of time between being on heat is about 12-22 days (src: Robinson’s Genetics).

The signs of oestrus are: vocalization, rubbing head and neck against things, rolling around and “treading” (leg movements).

Females generally begin the heat cycles in January or February. This ends in June to November. The period of sexual inactivity is between October and December. The peak period is between February and March. 

The reason why the process is seasonal is because daylight affects the production of pituitary gland hormones. If cats are kept indoors, with more artificial light it can change the heat cycles. Apparently long haired cat breeds are less dependent on the amount of daylight.

Click on the link to see and expanded discussion about cat heat behavior. And you might like to see what led up to the pregnancy: see cats mating (warning over 16 year olds only please).


  • Cat Pregnancy Report
  • Veterinary Notes for Cat Lovers by Trevor Turner DVM and Jean Turner VN
  • The Veterinarians’ Guide to Your Cat’s Symptoms
  • Robinson’s Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians

Note: this article was written by a person who has experienced at first had her cat’s pregnancy and birth. The article was added to by Michael at Pictures of

Cat pregnancy to cat illnesses

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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37 Responses

  1. Christine says:

    My cat is nearly 8 months old. She stays indoors and never goes out as she hasn’t yet been spayed. I took her to a vet recently as her glands had swollen quite considerably within a week. She believed that she was pregnant even though I said she doesn’t go outside. She shows some signs of pregnancy but could there be another explanation?

    • Michael Broad says:

      What about a false pregnancy? Pseudocyesis. Symptoms are: rarely signs of a true pregnancy, weight gain, nesting behavior. Milk production can happen although rare.

      The condition is caused by progesterone.

      Treatment: No treatment necessary. Signs disappear in up to 40 days after estrus.

      Is she showing signs of being ill? It seems not.

      I have guessed big time. Good luck to you both.

  2. Tina says:

    If your cat’s belly is rounded and you can clearly see and feel her nipples without trying then YES! She is pregnant!

    In the beginning early stages of pregnancy, your cat will eat more like she hasn’t eaten in a few days.

    In the middle trimester of her pregnancy your cat will sleep more and her feeding will decrease due to her kittens making her feel full,

    At the end of your cat’s trimester, she will show a lot more decrease in energy and will sleep more hours in a day than normal as she is going to need all the energy she is building up for when it’s time to go into labor.

    You never want to pick your pregnant queen up, if there for any reason you must pick her up ALWAYS place 1 under her belly as close to her back legs as possible while using the other hand to support her as you pick her up.

    Any other questions you have please feel to ask me.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Many many thanks, Tina, for commenting on this page and adding your experience to it. It is most welcome. If you would like to write an article on any subject in relation to cat pregnancy then please leave another comment and I will converted into an article.

  3. Michelle says:

    We brought in a stray momma and two kittens. The kittens were about 2.5-3 months. We were told the mom was more than likely pregnant so it’s been over a month and a half, the kittens 4.5-5months just spayed. And no signs of mom being anywhere near she should be in her gestation period no pink nipples she is pulling her hair

  4. gp says:

    so I put myself in a situation a lady walked past my house with a cat she asked if I knew anyone that wanted one and that this cat was pregnant n she couldn’t keep it. she didn’t know how far along but we can already see n feel babies moving nipples r enlarged she is restless n has vomited a few times along with what im gonna call dry heaves. her tummy is very hard n now she is walking funny n her tail is twitching kinda.. how soon should I expect kittens

    • Dee (Florida) says:

      Very soon.
      Place a large cardboard box on its side, place newspapers and an old towel in it, and drape another old towel over top and half way down covering the entry for privacy.

  5. jayne moore says:

    hi,i have a 7 month old cat (give or take) her name is jasmine and the last 4weeks shes not wanted to come in surrounded by male cats outside ive tryed feeding her trying to pick her up so i can take her inside… but she just wound”nt want to come in running away with the male cats (who i thought was hurting her)!!!.Now the past week jasmine has now wanted freely to come inside i have 5 children an they do her head in but recently shes not bothered by the kids just lying on her bed sleeping consently an only waking up for food from lastnite till now shes just sleeping again only waking for food!!ive opened the front door 2see if she wants to go tolite an does”nt want to go outside ..she ent bothered by the male cats now!! she eating two pouches of cat food an biscuits about 4 times aday.Is this normal?? is she preganat?? Ive read on the internet that the nipples will go big an red/pink ive tryed to look but she does”nt like it !! ive never noticed her nipples before while patting her but now ive noticed them again whilst rubbing her her mood has changed as well as her activty an playing as soon as my hand goes near her she purrz alot!!I never planned to have kittens but if thats the case then i want to make sure im there for her aswell as her babies i just dont know!? Again ive searched the internet the past three days an not really helped ..but all the symtoms from other storys i can take because of jasmine any info or advice is well respected thanks please no negative commants please because its simply just disrespectful.. an im asking for help not neigativity iam gunna take her to the vets but my appointment ent untill three days an want advice weather to let her outside if she wises to go out.

    • Hi Jayne, thanks for visiting and asking. At present there are no early pregnancy detection tests for cats as there is for people. Few signs of pregnancy are detectable during the first few weeks. Slight weight gain is one. An abdominal ultrasound may detect it as early as day 15. At day 20 a foetal heartbeat is detectable.

      You mention that her behavior has changed in the past week. I guess it is too soon to confirm pregnancy. I hope this helps. If you have more info or if I have missed something please leave a further comment which will be published immediately.

  6. Carole panek says:

    My female cat just gave birth to five kittens I’m hoping she has plenty of nipples and milk to supply for them all I don’t think she’s quite a year old I had found her outside in the middle of winter I cannot leave her out I brought her in my questioneven though she’s young will she know to take care and nurse her babies

  7. hayley says:

    Hi, i think my cat may be pregnant.

    she eating a lot more, she does have a small rounded tummy but she seam to be getting wider more than rounder, shes sleeping a lot & her nipples are pink and large, like puffed rice and slightly crusty… her last heat or season was (and when she escaped from the house) 22nd of august. She was very quiet and had no appetite around the 13th of September for a few days, but after a few days returned to normal after a visit to the vet. He though she may have an infection because she had a temperature so prescribed antibiotics and pain relief. i did mention that she had gotten out of the house on her last heat but he seamed uninterested.

    so i am unsure as to if she is pregnant or not, only time will tell i suppose. if she is pregnant i think its just under 3 week until she would be due… any advice or input would be hugely appreciated

    thankyou in advance.

  8. Susan says:

    My cat is pregnant, nipples really swollen, kittens moving. But 2 days ago my cat & me were siting on the couch and I heard my cat licking something. It was a kitten. She was cleaning it.It ended up being stillborne. And she has not had more. I see them moving inside her. When do you think she might deliver?

    • Hi Susan, I don’t really feel qualified to provide you with a good answer. I think you should call the vet. My book tells me:

      Kittens come approximately 15 minutes to two hours apart; more than three hours between kittens is a sign of trouble. This need not apply, however, if the queen is resting happily and nursing kittens without signs of distress.

      I hope the quote helps. Personally, as stated, I’d telephone a vet and ask to be on the safe side. Even a receptionist can probably provide good free advice. The best of luck.

  9. Leah Mitchell says:

    Hi my cat is in season and got out today I see her with a male cat and he mounted her she let out a yell before I managed to scare him off she then rolled about as if she was flirting with him so he tried to mount her again does this mean he didn’t ejaculate the 1st time of was he just trying to do it again ?

  10. Frank says:

    Hi, im pretty sure my cat is pregnant and probably ready to give birth at the end of the month……theres like a crusty substance around all her nipples ive been noticing. Is that normal? What is that?

    • It sounds like at the time birth approaches when the breasts enlarge and a milky fluid may come from the nipples which has dried. I tend to agree with your assessment. Good luck. I hope you are well prepared!

  11. Charlene says:

    My cat is nearing the end of her pregnancy, she has a few days left, and she’s starting to sneeze a lot. She’s 8 month old, got pregnant on accident and had an URI when we got her at 4 months. The doc said she would always sneeze but its been gone the length of her pregnancy. Is it cause for concern?

    • Tricky question for me but I believe that if this is a simple URI (viral infection) there should be no problem but if the URI is a symptom of a more serious underlying disease such as FIV which seems highly unlikely then those serious diseases can affect the embryo (cause fetal loss). I can’t really add much more because this is one the vet! Thanks for visiting though and good luck.

  12. wild flower says:

    can u email me I was wondering.. my female cat got out and now I am afraid she my be pregnant… she not real young but I would still consider her a kitten. she hasn’t went into her heat stage yet and I am looking to find signs of a possible pregnancy. I have never noticed her nipples before but now if I run my fingers on her belly I can feel them? do you have any tips for figuring out if she is pregnant early on?

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  14. maisy jones says:

    Your comment, i do believe to be rather inappropriate, unless it has been used for educational purposes. The pregnant cats nipples do change during pregnancy, they become larger to accommodate the milk for the kittens to suck from and get the required amount of milk. I know this from owning and breeding cats of myself, if you require more information please comment again… thank you.

    • Michael says:

      Hi Maisy, thanks for your comment. If you leave a long comment in response to this one, I’ll turn it into an article (a post) and if you want a link to a website, just tell me. If you just want to add information in another comment, please go ahead. I love good information particularly from fist hand experience. Thanks for visiting and sharing.

      • Faith says:

        I have an 11 month old cat and jazabell is always loving and all but shes sleeping more and iw as rubbing her belly and felt 2 nipples sticking out when I try to look at her belly shes very moody on it. could she be pregeant. she really has not much to do with any of our cats and my husband and our kids but very cleaning and demanding I hold her more t hen normal

        • Hello Faith. There are few detectable signs in the first few weeks of gestation. There is a slight gain in weight. A good veterinarian can feel the kittens through abdominal palpation after 20 days. This should only be done by a veterinarian. Cats sometimes have morning sickness in the third to fourth week of pregnancy. As for the cat’s nipples they become pink and obvious by 35 days and at the same time the size of her belly is increasing. This does not seem to square up with what you describe.

          I’m hedging my bets because I do not know whether your cat is pregnant or not from the description that you provide. It may be the case. A pregnant cat might appear apathetic. If you feel inclined perhaps you might come back and comment again if and when there are more clear signs that she is pregnant. Good luck to you both.

  15. Leeann Boone says:

    You can’t really see the nipples in that video. Is there anywhere I can see a picture of pregnant cat nipple and a not pregnant cat nipple?

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