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Is My Cat Fat or Pregnant? How to Tell (With Pictures)

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

fat cat outdoors

If you’ve started to notice that your cat is a little more plump than usual and you’re wondering if you should cut back on the cat treats or if she might be pregnant, there are some signs that can tell you either way.

We’ll go over the common signs of a pregnant cat – these signs are both physical as well as a change in temperament. We’ll also go into how to best take care of your pregnant cat and how you can tell when she’s about ready to give birth.

This way, you’ll be prepared, and you’ll be able to ensure she’s getting the best care and love during this incredible time.

Physical Signs of Pregnancy

a pregnant cat lying on wooden table
Image Credit: Boy67, Shutterstock

If your cat’s weight gain seems to be going quickly, chances are she’s pregnant rather than gaining excessive weight. Typically, weight tends to creep on a cat so slowly that you practically don’t notice until your cat is a little too plump.

However, the following are signs of a pregnant cat:
  • End of Heat Cycle: This should be one of the earlier signs of pregnancy. Many cats can go into heat every two to three weeks, so if you notice your cat is no longer entering her heat cycles, there’s a good chance she’s pregnant.
  • Weight gain: This weight gain is much faster than regular weight gain.

Pregnant queens (this is the name given to pregnant female cats) will gain about two to four pounds throughout the pregnancy, but the weight gain should be noticeable in just a few weeks.

  • Change in nipples: Other than weight gain, the change in your cat’s nipples is one of the first signs of a pregnant cat. The queen’s nipples start to swell and become a darker pink color. This is also known as “pinking-up.” This process can occur about three weeks into the pregnancy.
  • Changes in appetite: Just like us, a queen will have an increase in appetite as she’s eating for herself and a bunch of kittens! However, she might also experience a kind of morning sickness, so she might also lose her appetite at this time. This is normal, but see your vet if it seems too frequent or goes on for too long.
  • Enlarged Abdomen: Around five weeks into the pregnancy, the queen’s abdomen will begin to swell and become much more noticeably larger. This will continue until it’s time for her to give birth.

Another way to tell the difference between a fat and pregnant cat is by looking at her from above and the side. While looking straight down at her, a pregnant cat’s stomach will start to look larger, more than halfway from her neck to her tail. Looking at her from the side, you should notice that her tummy is round and bulging. A fat cat will look plump all over, not just around her belly.

pregnant cat nipples
Image Credit: Bill Roque, Shutterstock

Changes in Temperament During Pregnancy

Sometimes queens will start to behave differently from what you usually expect.

The following can also be signs of a pregnant cat:
  • Frequent sleeping: You will probably notice your cat sleeping more frequently and for more hours over the day.
  • Affectionate:Many queens become much more affectionate than usual and will spend lots of time trying to gain your love and attention.
  • Reclusive:This personality change isn’t very common, but some cats might become more reclusive and spend more time hiding and sleeping.

What Your Vet Will Do

You might not necessarily need your vet to confirm the pregnancy if you’ve observed most of these signs, but it’s still a good idea to have her checked out by the vet.

Your vet will start by:
  • Feeling the belly: Your vet will gently palpitate your cat’s belly to detect the fetuses. This might occur at about the two-to-three-week stage of the pregnancy. However, it isn’t always a reliable way to confirm pregnancy.
  • Blood test: One of the easiest methods to help determine your cat’s pregnancy is your vet conducting a blood test on your cat.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound can detect your cat’s pregnancy after the second week. You might detect the fetus’s heartbeats sometime after the third week.
  • X-rays: About 42 days into the pregnancy, the vet can run x-rays, which can help see how many kittens are expected. Having said that, it’s usually recommended to wait until the 55th day.

You’ll need to decide between caring for your pregnant cat and ensuring the kittens will all go to responsible and loving homes if that’s the road you decide to go down.

But if this is an unexpected pregnancy, you might want to consider having your cat spayed if you’re not planning on becoming a breeder.

veterinarian is making a check up of a adult maine coon cat
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Taking Care of a Pregnant Cat

Pregnancy for a cat lasts for 58 to 67 days, and you’ll want to make your queen’s pregnancy as easy and stress-free as possible.

Start by giving her any attention and affection she’s looking for but be gentle when you physically handle her, particularly with her belly.

Keep her litter box clean – scoop at least once or twice a day and ensure she can get in and out of the box without any trouble.

Nutrition

Just like for any pregnant female, nutrition is doubly important. You’ll want to ensure your cat is getting enough high-quality food and that she doesn’t lose any weight. You’ll not want to overfeed or underfeed her.

The food should be high in calories. Your best bet is to feed the queen food specifically made for pregnant and lactating cats, or even diets for kittens will also work.

She should be given smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.

Speak to the vet about the kind of food you should feed your cat and how much she should be eating, particularly as the pregnancy progresses.

Cat eats from a bowl of dry food
Image Credit: Roman Samsonov, Shutterstock

Preparing for Birth

There are definite signs that a queen is getting ready for birth. It’s best to have a nesting spot prepared for her, but otherwise, you should leave her alone and just observe from a distance. You can set up a box lined with paper and old blankets and towels in a quiet corner a few weeks before her due date.

She might reject it, so try to place the box in a spot that she seems to be gravitating to, but in the long run, if your cat wants to give birth in the laundry basket, then that’s where it will happen.

The two main factors that will tell you that the kittens are on their way are a decrease in appetite and a drop in their body temperature.

Usually, about 24 hours before they are going to give birth, queens will stop eating, and their temperature will drop to below 100°F.

She’ll also appear quite restless and will be pacing and vocalizing more than usual. As labor approaches, you’ll probably also notice the queen licking her vulva to clean up a little clear discharge.

And then it’s kitten time!

newborn kittens sucking milk
Image Credit: NataVilman, Shutterstock

Conclusion

It can be hard to tell if your cat is starting to pack on a few pounds or is pregnant. Either way, you should consider having her spayed.

It will save you a lot of money (the healthcare and vaccinations of the kittens are expensive) and your cat some risk. Spaying can reduce the risk of some health issues, such as cancer and uterine infections, and you won’t have to deal with her heat cycles any longer.

Your one cat can average eight to twelve kittens every year, and according to the ASPCA, 3.2 million cats are surrendered to a shelter every year.

But hopefully, if your cat is indeed pregnant, everything goes smoothly, but if your cat is just chubby, speak to your vet about diet and exercise.

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Featured Image Credit: Andreas Almstedt, Pixabay

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