Do you think your cat may be pregnant?
Too early in the cat gestation period, there is no way to know for sure, but there are clues to look for.
The most obvious feline pregnancy sign is that there are no symptoms of her being in heat!
If she has had normal heat cycles every 10-14 days and suddenly stops howling and rolling and generally annoying you (wink wink!) then you could very well be facing a litter of kittens in less than 9 weeks.
Often, a pregnant queen will have a change in appetite during her gestation period.
This doesn't always happen, at least not to a very noticeable level, but if you do notice a lack or increase in how much she wants to eat, then this too could indicate a feline pregnancy.
If your cat is acting more lethargic than usual, this could also mean you have a pregnant cat.
Of course, lethargy can be difficult to diagnose in a creature that sleeps 17 hours a day, but I digress...
In general, just use common sense. If she has stopped eating, drinking, and seems really weak and listless, please take her to the vet to rule out an illness.
Unfortunately, there are no blood or urine tests that can test for pregnancy in cats.
The earliest you can confirm feline pregnancy is between 2 and 3 weeks into the cat gestation period.
At this point, gestation can be confirmed by ultrasound. The results, however, will only tell you if she is or is not pregnant, it will not indicate the number of kittens expected.
Gestation can often be confirmed by your veterinarian during this phase by palpating (i.e., feeling and smooshing) her belly.
Again though, your vet will not be able to tell you reliably how many kittens are expected.
When your pregnant female gets past day 54 in her gestation period, your vet can have an X-ray performed.
Why 54 days? Because that is when the fetuses have developed skeletons! Before this point, an X-ray could cause fetal damage.
Of course, this is an added expense and it is not usually performed unless your veterinarian thinks there could be a problem, or you just really want to know how many kitten bundles of joy are in there!
The vet confirmed that your female is in the family way.
Wondering what to expect during the next several weeks?
Just after the two-week point, you will notice her slowly begin to gain weight.
Unlike dogs, who gain most significantly in the last several weeks before delivery, a pregnant cat gains steadily throughout without this sudden increase.
Several weeks later, you will notice the beginning of breast enlargement.
At 50 days into the gestation period, she will begin to create milk, and may even secrete fluid from her nipples several days before her due date.
As her delivery approaches she will show nesting behavior and begin to look for a safe and quiet place to have her kittens.
If you haven't already introduced a nesting box to her, do so as soon as possible.
You most likely will not have to worry about over-exertion during the cat gestation period.
She will likely be able to regulate her own activity.
Just make sure that you supervise her wanderings (limit it to just your yard, if she is an outdoor cat) and she will rest when she needs it.
Just as for humans, exercise is beneficial during gestation.
It will keep her from putting on too much weight, and will assist in an easier delivery when her kittens are born.
If, however, you enjoy high-energy games with her, such as making her jump for a feather fishing rod toy, this will have to be tapered down as she gets closer to her due date.
If she really enjoys this game, she may want to over-do it, so use common sense.
When she is a few days away from delivery, she should not be doing any strenuous activity, which means no high jumping.
If you feed her on a shelf or counter top due to a resident cat food-loving canine, feed her instead in a closed-off room on the floor.
There is so much to learn before the kittens arrive--How to Take Care of Your Pregnant Cat will give you the crash course you need in order to be completely prepared during the cat gestation period.
Finally, the time for kittens has come! Find out what happens during her labor and the kitten birthing process.