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Signs that your cat is pregnant

Has your cat been acting a bit different lately? It’s hard to interpret pets behaviour sometimes – we’ve all been swiped when we thought they needed a nuzzle. Take out the guesswork and learn how to spot the signs that your cat is pregnant with this Sainsbury’s Bank guide.



How do you know if a cat is pregnant?

Spotting the signs early that your cat is pregnant is important to make sure you can give her the care she needs throughout her pregnancy. It means you can prepare yourself and make any necessary arrangements. Here are some signs your cat might be pregnant:

  • Increased/noticeable weight gain over the course of a few months
  • Swollen, sore/pink nipples – this will appear less than a month into the pregnancy
  • Vomiting – think morning sickness
  • Sleeping more, with an increase in appetite 
  • Personality changes (such as being more affectionate, in some cases)

Once you’ve spotted the signs that your cat is pregnant it’s important to contact your vet, then you can start focusing on how to help them through the pregnancy and labour. 

Cat pregnancy 

Cats can get up to all sorts of mischief. If your female cat hasn’t been spayed then they could be at risk of pregnancy, especially if they spend time outdoors or around male cats that haven’t been neutered. In fact, from as early as four months old female cats  can be at risk of pregnancy. Cats don’t go through menopause either which means they can get pregnant into old age. 

If your cat is an indoor, non-spayed female who lives with male cats that haven’t been neutered from the same litter, there is still a risk of pregnancy. Unlike humans, female cats don’t discriminate by relation – if they live with their brothers, they could get pregnant.

Signs that your cat is pregnant

Figuring out what’s wrong with your cat can be difficult – they’re not going to slide a pregnancy test under your door. But they might start wanting more cuddles. There are a lot of signs that your cat is pregnant, including:

Weight gain 

Cats are likely to gain weight when pregnant. It’s believed that this functions as energy storage for lactation. Your cat will experience weight gain throughout all three trimesters.

Swollen, pink nipples 

Swollen, pink nipples are one of the first clear signs that your cat could be pregnant. They may also begin to lactate a bit. 


Morning sickness is another early sign of pregnancy in cats and can happen as early as four weeks into the pregnancy. Your cat may be put off her food and experience a change of appetite in the mornings.

Increased appetite 

Pregnant cats can eat up to 25% more food than usual, especially towards the end of the pregnancy. You may also find that she’s drinking more as she will be thirstier too. 

Sleeping more

Being a mother is hard work – before and after the pregnancy. Don’t be surprised if your cat wants to rest more or is generally less active.

Changes in personality

A pregnant cat’s behaviour can change and they will usually become more affectionate. This is natural, as your cat is looking for comfort – and they will make it known.

Swollen tummy 

Just like in humans, if your cat has a baby bump then it’s a good sign they’re pregnant. After about five weeks, your cat’s tummy will be noticeably swollen.

Signs of cat labour 

Pregnancy in cats tends to last 63 to 65 days on average. Compared to humans, that’s roughly nine weeks rather than nine months. 

There are a few tell-tale signs that your cat may be about to go into labour. These include:

  • Looking for a place to settle down or nest
  • Refusing food and acting fidgety
  • A drop in body temperature to around 37.8°C
  • Becoming vocal, agitated, and obsessively cleaning

Following these signs, labour should begin shortly. Cats usually go through labour smoothly, but there are some instances where you may need to intervene. 

Abdominal contractions with a light discharge are normal while your cat is delivering. However, if the discharge is black or bloody, or your cat is straining without producing kittens, there could be complications. If this occurs, contact your vet immediately.

If all is well, then the kittens should arrive swifty after this discharge.

How to prevent cat pregnancy  

Sex education classes aren’t that effective for cats, but spaying your cat is. Neutering your cat before they become sexually active is the best prevention for pregnancy. It’s a common practice for pet owners, and has other benefits including:

  • Reducing your cat’s risk of breast cancer
  • Decreasing the likelihood of womb infections
  • Protecting against certain viruses
  • Stopping heat behaviours (such as seeking out male cats)
  • Removes risks associated with pregnancy

Generally, the best time to spay your cat is around four to six months old, as cats can get pregnant as young as four months. They’ll also be old enough for the anaesthetic to pose less risk.

Does pet insurance cover pregnant cats?

Most pet insurance policies will cover pregnant cats but not any of the treatments related to pregnancy, giving birth or any complications related to this - including death.

Different types of cover exist for different purposes, for a full understanding of what is and is not covered, contact your provider for more information. Find out more about cover for your cat with Sainsbury’s Bank Cat Insurance.

Frequently asked questions 

How long does it take for a cat to know she’s pregnant?

Cat’s will be aware quite quickly that they’re pregnant. Its only takes a few weeks for the signs that your cat is pregnant to appear.

How many kittens are in a cat’s first litter?

Generally, a first-time kitty mum’s litter will be smaller than average. Your cat can expect around two to three kittens, compared to the four to six that would be expected from a seasoned mother cat. Older cats may also have smaller litters.

How many days is a cat pregnant for?

From pregnancy to labour, it can take around 63 to 65 days. Just like humans, the pregnancy period can be shorter or longer than this.


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