It’s always exciting when you mate your Queen for the very first time. In most cases, you’ve acquired your breeding cats as kittens, and have watched them grow up and mature into beautiful cats. You introduce your queen to your sire and they get down to business. Once mated, the day will finally arrive when you get to see what type of offspring your cats will produce. Since there’s no official cat pregnancy test like a human has, here’s how to tell if your cat is pregnant.
As a general rule of thumb you should always have your Queen seen by a veterinarian and make sure that she is in optimal health before allowing her to mate.
This Podcast Episode will explain in detail the signs and symptoms that you can look for to conclude that she is pregnant, and start planning for the new litter of kittens.
Cat Pregnancy Symptoms
Pregnancy always causes great physical changes in a female’s body. Most of them we aren’t able to physically see until the later phases of her pregnancy. Typically you won’t be able to detect or confirm pregnancy in your Queen for a couple of weeks. During the typical gestation period for a cat of 65 (9 weeks) days, you’ll start noticing changes around day 21. Until then, you’ll just be waiting patiently to confirm whether or not your Queen has babies on board.
Here are some of the signs that your cat is pregnant:
- Hot Pink Nipples: One of the first signs that will tell you that your cat is pregnant is her nipples. Due to the surge of hormones in her body around 18-21 days into gestation, her nipples will turn a hot pink rosy color and become swollen. This is known as “pinking up”. Be sure to have a look at her nipples before you mate her so that you can compare what they looked like prior. Then start checking her around day 18 for signs of color and appearance change.
Morning Sickness: As a result of hormonal changes, your Queen may experience “morning sickness”. You may wake up to find that she has had a rough start and has barfed up her last meal. This is completely normal and should only last for a couple of days. If she continues to vomit longer than that, be sure to talk to your veterinarian.
Heat Cycles will Stop: Most females (but not all) will have an estrus cycle every 3 -4 weeks. Once your cat becomes pregnant, her heat cycles should stop. If you’re keeping track of her cycles, and she’s regular then you’ll notice when she misses. This is a good indicator that she is pregnant. If she’s not regular and more of a random girl, then this will not apply to you.
Weight Gain: If you weigh your cat prior to mating, and then weigh her again around 3 weeks after mating, you’ll see some weight gain if she is pregnant. The average female gains 2-4 pounds. This significant weight gain rule may not apply if she is carrying a singleton. You may not notice any change in her physical appearance during her whole pregnancy.
Pregnant Cat Personality
Increased Affection: Around 4 to 5 weeks into her gestation period, your Queen may become more affectionate toward you. This behavior is welcomed by basically every breeder that you’ll ever meet. You may notice louder purring and her asking for more attention than she has in the past. There isn’t a more pleasing sight and sound than a happy pregnant Queen.
Sleeps More: Your pregnant Queen may find herself taking a few extra naps than usual. It’s hard work carrying a kindle of kittens. 🙂
Pregnancy Tests for Cats
Unfortunately, there are no early pregnancy tests for cats. The pregnancy really can’t be detected until around the third week of pregnancy. Once you start noticing the signs from your Queen, everything will make sense.
At different times during her pregnancy, you can take her for a visit to confirm, to check that everything is looking good and healthy inside and to get a kitten count.
Your veterinarian can feel the cats’ abdomen and tell if the cat is pregnant.
When using the palpation method, you are feeling for swelling in the uterus, and the presence of kittens. This can usually be done around day 17-25 day of her pregnancy. This method is the least stressful for your Queen, so you can ask your vet to show you how to properly palpate your cat’s abdomen so you can perform this at home.
If there are only one or two kittens, the palpation method may not be accurate for confirming a pregnancy.
Ultrasound for Pregnant Cat:
An ultrasound can be performed on your Queen as early as 3 weeks of her gestation. This is the most accurate method if you’re trying to determine if your cat is pregnant. The ultrasound can look for heartbeats, movement of the fetuses, and clear fluids (black on the ultrasound) surrounding a fetus. Ultrasounds are not the best method for counting kittens.
X-Ray for Pregnant Cat:
At around day 40 to 45 of the pregnancy, the bones of the kittens become calcified and can now be seen on an x-ray. You’ll literally be able to count the skulls and spines inside the Queen. X-Rays are the best method for counting the number of kittens to expect upon delivery. This method is only accurate after day 45 of the pregnancy.
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