How Long Are Cats Pregnant?
Here's how long you'll have to wait for kittens 😻
If you suspect your cat may be pregnant, you’re probably diving down every research rabbit hole in search of guides to help.
Even though seeking your vet’s advice is always the best first step, we talked to a vet to get a better grasp on how long cat pregnancies last and what you can expect when your cat’s expecting.
How long are cats pregnant?
According to Dr. David Shapiro, a veterinarian at Broward County Animal Care, a typical cat pregnancy (known as her gestation period) lasts anywhere from 63 to 67 days — that’s about nine weeks.
How long are cats pregnant before they show?
However, you may not know your cat’s pregnant until she’s already a couple of weeks along.
“[Pregnancy is] usually hard to notice/detect before two weeks,” Dr. Shapiro told The Dodo.
If you think your cat might be pregnant, you can take her to the vet, who will give her a pregnancy test (usually by drawing blood). However, “cats generally have to be at least three weeks pregnant for test accuracy,” Dr. Shapiro noted. So you’ll have to play a bit of a waiting game no matter what.
Physical changes are the most obvious signs that your cat may be having kittens before she gets a blood test or ultrasound.
Early signs a cat is pregnant
So, what should cat parents look for to determine if their cat might be pregnant? Dr. Shapiro said that there are two main physical signs:
- Distended abdomen, or an “increase in ‘belly’ weight”
- Swelling or pinkness in her nipples — often called “pinking up”
Cat pregnancy stages and timeline
Here’s what you can expect during your cat’s pregnancy.
A female cat can start having kittens when she’s around 4 months old unless she’s spayed before then. An unspayed female will go into heat — meaning that she’s releasing mating hormones — every two to three weeks from spring to fall.
Weeks 1 to 2
When a cat becomes pregnant, you’ll likely first notice the pinking of her nipples within the first two to three weeks after fertilization.
Weeks 3 to 4
In the third week of pregnancy, your cat may experience some morning sickness and her appetite may decrease. However, she’ll also start showing a bit of weight gain and swelling in her abdomen. A pregnant cat can gain up to 2 to 4 pounds during her pregnancy.
If and when you notice her swollen stomach, don’t touch or push on her belly, as this may disturb the kittens’ development.
In the fourth week, your cat’s appetite will likely come back in a big way. Your vet will be able to instruct you on how much you can increase her food intake based on her current weight and activity levels.
Weeks 5 to 6
Your cat will become more affectionate later in her pregnancy, and it’s around week five that your vet will be able to tell how many kittens she’s carrying.
Weeks 7 to 8
As your cat nears delivery, she’ll want to rest more and create a comfy space to give birth. This is called “nesting.” You can help her create a cozy nest by giving her soft blankets and setting up cardboard boxes with newspapers to keep her birthing spot clean.
The kittens arrive! When a cat goes into labor, Dr. Shapiro said she’ll likely head to her nesting spot and begin panting. She may also start licking herself more than usual.
And when she starts to deliver her kittens, Dr. Shapiro said his best advice is to “leave them alone,” adding, “[Do] not overcrowd. Moms know best!”
You can watch from a comfortable distance to make sure everything’s going smoothly and give your cat some soft words of encouragement to help her along.
How many times can a cat get pregnant in a year?
Because cats have such a short gestation period, they can give birth to multiple litters several times per year.
“Cats can get pregnant multiple times,” Dr. Shapiro said, “[with the] possibility of five litters per year.”
If you’re taking care of a pregnant cat, giving her a lot of love (and space when she needs it!) is the best thing you can do to aid her in her pregnancy. Always keep your vet on speed dial just in case you have any questions or an inkling that something may be wrong. They can always give you the best advice because they know your cat and can give personalized recommendations.
Stay calm, and get ready for an explosion of kitten cuteness!