Caring for your pregnant cat | Advice on cat pregnancy | (2023)

Help care for your cat during their pregnancy and prepare for birth with our guide.

Give your pregnant cat the care and support she needs

Wondering how to tell if a cat is pregnant? Discover facts about the cat gestation period and how to care for pregnant cats in our video guide. Remember, it is always advisable to speak to your vet if you're worried about your pregnant cat.

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Cat pregnancy basics

Cats reach sexual maturity (and are therefore able to breed) from around four months of age. To avoid unwanted pregnancies, have your cat neutered before they reach four months of age.

Cats are prolific breeders. If you let your female cat outside before she is neutered, it is highly likely that pregnancy will result!

Read more about neutering your cat.

How long are cats pregnant for?

Cats are usually pregnant for 63 days, or around nine weeks. During this time, there’s plenty you can do to take the very best care of your cat.

Make an appointment with your vet if you think your cat may be pregnant. You can find out more about the signs of pregnancy in our guide to cat reproduction.

(Video) Caring for pregnant cats

Cat pregnancy: a week-by-week guide

Nine weeks might not seem like long, but during this time you’ll notice a lot of changes in your cat.

Weeks one and two

For the first couple of weeks, you might not notice any changes in your cat. This is because the fertilised eggs only implant themselves in your cat’s uterus towards the end of week two, so your cat will likely still be unaware that she is pregnant. Her heat cycles may continue during this time and if she mates again she could have kittens from different fathers.

Week three

At this point, the fertilised eggs have implanted and the kittens will begin growing. This causes a hormone surge in your cat’s body which will start to cause some visible changes that you might notice.

It is likely that your cat’s heat cycles will end, and you may notice her nipples become darker and slightly larger. This is called ‘pinking’.

Week four

Just like humans, cats can get morning sickness when they are pregnant. Around four weeks into her pregnancy your cat may vomit and seem to go off her food (not just in the morning – it can happen at any time of day). While this is normal, if it’s happening a lot and she’s not eating anything it’s best to call your vet for advice.

During week four, you’ll notice your cat gaining weight and your vet will be able to confirm her pregnancy with an ultrasound. You should avoid picking your cat up at this stage so you don’t accidentally harm her or her growing kittens. Speak to your vet about the proper way to handle a pregnant cat.

Week five

By now your cat’s kittens should be growing well. You’ll notice her gaining weight and your vet may even be able to tell you how many kittens she is expecting by feeling her tummy. Don’t try to feel this yourself, though, as it takes a practiced hand to do it safely.

Week six

At this stage your cat will have a very round tummy! You might be able to see the kittens moving around.

(Video) 8 Rules To Fostering a Pregnant Cat | The Dodo Foster Diaries

Your cat will also be feeling very hungry as she starts to build up all the nutrients she needs to nurse her kittens. Make sure she’s eating a balanced diet suitable for a pregnant cat and allow her to eat as much as she needs.

Week seven

Your cat might start ‘nesting’ now – looking for a comfortable, safe place to have her kittens. You can provide her with a warm, quiet area with lots of blankets as she is more likely to choose this spot to give birth.

You might notice she purrs more often and seeks out your attention more. She’s just feeling a little needy – give her a fuss when she asks for it.

Week eight

Not long now! Your cat’s nipples will be quite swollen as she’s nearing giving birth. You’ll also notice she’s grooming a lot more, so much so that the fur might fall off her tummy. Don’t worry – this is normal! It’ll grow back once she has finished nursing her kittens.

Week nine

There may be a small amount of red-coloured discharge around your cat’s vulva . This is normal and nothing to worry about, it’s just a sign she’s getting close to giving birth now.

She might seem quite anxious and pace a lot, or seek you out for attention and reassurance. That’s a sign she’s getting ready to go into labour. If she goes to her chosen nesting spot there’s a good chance the kittens could be on their way soon.

Week 10

While a cat’s pregnancy usually lasts for nine weeks, there is a chance you could be waiting into week 10 for her to give birth. Unfortunately, it’s just a waiting game now – if you’re worried or there’s still no sign of the kittens at the end of week 10, give your vet a call.

What should I feed my pregnant cat?

Once you are sure your cat is pregnant, it’s best to feed her a good quality kitten food. As her kittens develop and she prepares to nurse them, she’ll need lots of extra nutrients which kitten food will give her.

Setting up a kittening area

Your cat will look for somewhere warm, clean and quiet to give birth. This is known as nesting and you might find her looking in all sorts of places in your house.

Naturally your cat will feel vulnerable when she gives birth even though she is safe in your home. Try finding a quiet area of the house she prefers and create a kittening area for her. The ideal kittening area for your cat will be:

  • somewhere quiet, where people and other pets aren’t coming in and out all the time
  • warm and free of draughts
  • semi-enclosed (for example, a cardboard box with the top cut off and a cat-flap-sized hole in one side)
  • comfortable with plenty of clean, dry blankets
  • away from any harsh lights that might disturb the mother
  • near her food, water and litter tray (you may need to move this into the same room she has chosen to nest in)

Caring for your pregnant cat | Advice on cat pregnancy | (1)

(Video) how to identify cat pregnancy malayalam | cat pregnant ആണോ അല്ലേ എന്ന് തിരിച്ചറിയാനുള്ള എളുപ്പവഴി

Cat behaviour during pregnancy

As your cat’s hormones change while she is pregnant, so will her behaviour. You may notice her heat cycle ends – see our cat reproduction guide for more information on heat cycles.

Some behaviours you might notice while your cat is pregnant include:

  • purring more
  • seeming ‘fussier’ and wanting your attention
  • seeking you out more than usual
  • being off their food (usually due to morning sickness, or as they get closer to giving birth)
  • pacing (usually close to giving birth)

You might notice your cat’s behaviour change after they’ve given birth, too. She might prefer space and want you to stay away from her kittens. Read more in our after birth guide.

Should I keep my pregnant cat indoors?

If your cat usually goes outdoors, being kept in for nine weeks may be really stressful for her. For the first few weeks, try to supervise her outside if you can and give her a quick check when she comes back inside to make sure she’s not hurt.


In the final two weeks of her pregnancy, it is best to keep her inside so she is safe when the kittens come. It’s likely that she won’t want to go out during this time anyway as she’ll be nesting.

When to contact the vet

We recommend talking to your vet before your cat breeds, to make sure that your cat is fit to breed and properly vaccinated.

If your cat is already pregnant, ask your vet for advice on caring for your cat, including feeding, worming and flea treatments. You must use treatments that are safe to use during pregnancy.

Talk to your vet about the best time to neuter your cat after the kittens are born. Neutering is the safest and most effective way to prevent future unwanted pregnancies.

Download: Pregnant cats, birth and the care of young kittens guide

Related topics

Pregnancy and kitten care

Birth and kittening

After birth

(Video) Cat Pregnancy 101 Tips on Caring for a Pregnant Cat

Care of newborn kittens


How can I help my cat during her pregnancy? ›

During her pregnancy, you will want to keep your cat relatively active in order to ensure she is fit for giving birth. Avoid any excessively rowdy activity towards the end of your cat's pregnancy, however. You will need to help her stay calm as she nears her due date, as anything too active could cause her stress.

What do I do if my cat gets pregnant for the first time? ›

As soon as pregnancy is confirmed you should switch her to a premium kitten food such as Hills Science Diet to provide extra nutrients for her and her kittens. Keep her on this food until the kittens are weaned. Don't be surprised if your mother-cat doesn't seem to eat a lot right away.

What do I need to know about my cat being pregnant? ›

Cat pregnancy normally lasts between 63 to 67 days, but it can be tough to know exactly how long a cat is pregnant for. The cat gestation period can vary from as short as 61 days to as long as 72 days. Your cat (queen) often won't show any physical symptoms of pregnancy until she is a few weeks into her term.

Should I stay with my cat while she gives birth? ›

Most cats would prefer to be left alone, and they definitely don't want to be pet or touched while they are giving birth. It's best to give your pregnant cat as much privacy as possible while also leaving yourself the ability to monitor the birthing process for any signs of issues or distress.

Can I pick my cat up if she's pregnant? ›

Whilst it's safe to stroke your pregnant cat, make sure that you avoid her tummy. This area will be very sensitive, and any touching there could cause her discomfort or hurt her unborn kittens. If you do have to pick your cat up, make sure to “scoop” her up from her bottom, rather than touch her stomach.

How long is a cat in labor? ›

In cats the average length of full parturition (delivery) is 16 hours, with a range of 4–42 hours (up to three days in some cases may be normal). It is important to consider this variability before intervening. The third stage is delivery of the fetal membranes.

How long do cats stay pregnant for? ›

How do I prepare a place for my cat to give birth? ›

Preparing for Your Cat to Give Birth

Keep the nest in a warm place and line it with soft blankets or towels (that you won't mind throwing away). Try to find a familiar location to put the box that is quiet and out of the way, and show your cat where the box is situated.

What food is best for pregnant cat? ›

A highly-digestible, high quality kitten/growth/development formulation is generally recommended during feline pregnancy. The best options are those diets that have passed feeding trials for gestation/lactation or for all life stages.

How long after a cat gives birth can you touch the babies? ›

Sometimes, handling newborns too much can cause their mother to reject them. After a couple of weeks, if your cat is happy for you to do so, you might be able to gently stroke the new kittens. It's important to start socialising the kittens from week two and some of this will involve handling them.

How long after kittens are born can you touch them? ›

The Nest suggests gently handling your kittens one at a time starting once they've reached their first week of age, letting mama kitty sniff you first if she's present. Baby kittens love to nip and paw at their humans, but once a cat is grown this behavior could be problematic.

Can you touch a cats babies after they are born? ›

Vets recommend not touching kittens unless you have to while their eyes are still closed. You can check on them to make sure they're healthy and gaining weight, but try to limit direct physical contact. The kitten's mother will also let you know how comfortable she is with you handling her babies.

Can I touch my cat pregnant? ›

Absolutely! Petting your cat will not result in becoming infected. As a matter of fact, while Toxoplasmosis is a danger to an unborn baby, the chances of actually being infected are very low.

How do I know my cat is in labor? ›

Licking, pacing, howling, and chirping

You might notice your cat licking her genitalia frequently – There is a discharge from the cat's vulva a few hours before birth starts. Your cat's water will break as well. Now is the time for pacing, restlessness, and howling, meowing, or chirping from your cat.

Where should a pregnant cat be placed? ›

Create a Safe Nesting Place​​​​​​​

Once she is close to birth, your pregnant cat will be searching out a safe and secluded place to deliver her kittens. Make it easier for her by creating a special nesting place. A simple high-sided cardboard box lined with soft towels, bedding, newspapers, etc.

What comes out first when a cat gives birth? ›

If possible, count the placentas as they are passed so you can inform your vet if one has been left behind (an infection risk). Both head first and tail first kittening is normal (tail first may take a little longer). Between each kitten, your cat should seem comfortable, lick and feed her newborn.

What is the first stage of cat labor? ›


This is the time when the queen becomes restless and anxious. You may notice panting, pacing, refusal of food and maybe vomiting. Nesting behavior begins. This is the time to place her in the queening box (hopefully she is already accustomed to the box).

What to do after cat gives birth? ›

post-labor Care

After your momma cat gives birth, you'll want to keep the space clean, quiet, and free of any other animals. Weigh the kittens as soon as mom will allow and continue weighing them daily. Do not take the kittens away from mom while weighing.

Do cats bleed before giving birth? ›

Symptoms of Early Contractions and Labor in Cats

Before a cat fully goes into labor, there are a few tell-tale signs. If a cat is showing these signs before the 61st day of pregnancy, it is likely that the cat is going into premature labor: Bloody vaginal discharge.

How many kittens does a pregnant cat have? ›

While cats usually have an average of four kittens in each litter, this can range from one to 12 kittens. Larger litters are seen more frequently in pedigree breeds such as Oriental, Siamese and Burmese.

Do pregnant cats sleep a lot? ›

Pregnant cats will appear less playful and may want to sleep even more than usual. While you'll notice your cat is more subdued you may also have to put up with the occasional mood swing!

Do pregnant cats drink more water? ›

Cat stops eating

One day prior to giving birth, your cat may eat less or will stop eating altogether. However, she will be thirsty and drink a lot more than usual.

Can cats get pregnant first time? ›

Cats can become pregnant on their very first estrous cycle, increasing the chance of accidental breeding.

How long does it take for a first time cat mom to give birth? ›

Late pregnancy and premonitory signs of parturition

In the cat pregnancy generally lasts for 63 to 65 days; however, it is not unusual for some cats to carry a normal litter for either a shorter or longer time (range 58 to 70 days). The cat's behaviour alters little until the final week of the pregnancy.

How many kittens does a cat give birth to the first time? ›

Between one and nine kittens will be born in a litter – most commonly four to six. First-time queens usually have a small litter size. When the birth is finished the mother will settle and allow the kittens to feed.

Can a cat under 1 get pregnant? ›

The process of a mama cat getting ready to have kittens is called "queening." A female cat can get pregnant when they are as young as 4 months old, unless they have been spayed to prevent that.

Do cats give birth at night? ›

Your cat's labour should go smoothly, but it's useful to have help on hand to keep her calm and in case she runs into any complications. Get hold of your vet's out-of-hours phone number prior to your cat giving birth, as delivery often happens during the night, or they might need an emergency helping hand.

Do cats make noises during birth? ›

Labor could begin shortly after your cat settles in, and this process may take up to 12 hours, during which time your cat might make really loud, disturbing noises. This is completely normal and should not be cause for concern. What Should You Do to Help Your Cat When She Is Giving Birth? Dr.

What do cats do right before giving birth? ›

Licking, pacing, howling, and chirping

You might notice your cat licking her genitalia frequently – There is a discharge from the cat's vulva a few hours before birth starts. Your cat's water will break as well. Now is the time for pacing, restlessness, and howling, meowing, or chirping from your cat.

How do cats prepare for home birth? ›

Preparing for Your Cat to Give Birth

Keep the nest in a warm place and line it with soft blankets or towels (that you won't mind throwing away). Try to find a familiar location to put the box that is quiet and out of the way, and show your cat where the box is situated.

Do cats need a dark place to give birth? ›

She usually finds a quiet, dark place where she'll feel safe, as giving birth is a very vulnerable time. Prepare a kittening bed using a cardboard box or cat bed lined with newspaper, old sheets, or towels. The bed needs to be warm, cozy, and private but accessible so that you can keep an eye on your cat.

Can you touch a newborn kitten? ›

Vets recommend not touching kittens unless you have to while their eyes are still closed. You can check on them to make sure they're healthy and gaining weight, but try to limit direct physical contact. The kitten's mother will also let you know how comfortable she is with you handling her babies.

What do you feed a cat after she gives birth? ›

Nursing mother cats need to eat a high quality kitten formula food. If she is a picky eater, do not hesitate to try feeding her canned tuna, chicken or salmon. Do not give cow's milk to cats, despite popular belief, it is impossible for cat's to digest and often causes serious stomach upset.

How do you prepare for a cat to have kittens? ›

5-point checklist for owners expecting kittens
  1. Feed your mother-to-be kitten food. ...
  2. Set up a kittening area. ...
  3. Choose the right bedding. ...
  4. Organise some emergency equipment. ...
  5. Prepare milk replacer and kitten food.
28 Oct 2022

How long after a cat has kittens can you touch them? ›

Take it slowly, and make sure she is okay with it before you touch them. Either way, they really should not be handled that much at all until they are about 2 weeks old. If you do handle them, be sure to either wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly before and after.

Can male cats sense pregnancy? ›

Yes, it's possible that cats can sense pregnancy even before you have early pregnancy signs. This is due to their excellent and refined sense of smell.


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