Pregnancy in cats


  • Pregnancy in cats lasts for approximately 65 days (nine weeks).
  • While your cat is pregnant you will need to care for her slightly differently and make sure you’re prepared for her giving birth.
  • Always contact your vet for advice if your cat gets pregnant, or if you’re worried about her at any point during her pregnancy.
  • PDSA recommend neutering at four months old unless you are certain you want to breed from your cat and know how to do so responsibly.

Signs of pregnancy in cats

A black and white pregnant cat lying on the ground

A cat’s gestation period (pregnancy) is approximately 65 days (around nine weeks), but can vary between 52–74 days from mating. The length of pregnancy can be very different in each cat and is often longer in Oriental or Siamese breeds and for cats carrying more kittens.

You are likely to be able to see signs of pregnancy in your cat from the sixth week, including:

  • Weight gain
  • Increased size of abdomen (tummy)
  • Nipples becoming pinker

Later signs of pregnancy include:

  • Increased size of the mammary glands (nipples) and loss of hair around the nipples (from the 8th week).
  • Unlike in dogs, behaviour changes don’t occur until later in a cat’s pregnancy, but you may see increased grooming of their back end and nipple areas, as well as nesting behaviour.
  • You can start to see the kittens moving (in the last 2–3 weeks of pregnancy).
  • Milk production (usually in the last week of pregnancy).

How will my vet know if my cat is pregnant?

A tabby cat being given an ultrasound scan by a vet

There are a few ways for your vet to check if your cat is pregnant:

  • Examination – Between three and four weeks pregnant, your vet might be able to feel for kittens through your cat’s abdomen (belly), although this isn’t always possible.
  • Ultrasound scan – Your vet will be able to scan your cat from around three weeks after mating. Your vet probably won’t be able to tell how many kittens there are using an ultrasound.
  • X-rays – X-rays can show the kittens once their skeletons develop (around the last three to four weeks of pregnancy). X-rays are better than ultrasounds at showing how many kittens there are, but may require an anaesthetic.
  • A blood test – Some vets might offer a blood test to check for pregnancy from around 20–25 days after mating, although this isn’t a common method in the UK.

Caring for your pregnant cat

Feeding – Your cat’s appetite will increase a lot during pregnancy. You will need to feed her high-quality kitten food, or food specifically for pregnant cats. The right food will ensure your cat gets all the right nutrients in the right amounts. Ideally, feed your cat small meals throughout the day because her womb will be pressing on her stomach making it difficult for her to eat a lot at one time.

Exercise –Your cat’s exercise levels won’t change much during pregnancy, so don’t restrict her exercise. However, it is a good idea to keep her away from any cats that are sick or that you don’t know.

Worming, fleas and vaccinations –You should vaccinate your cat and treat her for worms and fleas before breeding. You should generally try to avoid giving your cat medications while she is pregnant, but speak to your vet for advice.

Problems during pregnancy

With proper care, most cats experience very few problems during their pregnancy, but contact your vet if your pregnant cat shows any of the following symptoms:

Labour and giving birth

For information on how to prepare for your cat giving birth, labour in cats, and potential problems giving birth read our guide to your cat giving birth.

When to contact your vet

It’s always sensible to seek your vet’s advice if you think your cat might be pregnant. They will be able to tell you how to keep her happy and healthy during pregnancy, and how to prepare for giving birth. It’s also important to contact your vet if you are worried about your cat or she becomes unwell at any point during her pregnancy.

Terminating a pregnancy

If your cat is pregnant but you think it’s best she doesn’t have the kittens, there are options available but it’s important to discuss them with your vet as soon as possible. In most cases, it’s possible to end the pregnancy by spaying.

Should I neuter or breed?

Your cat doesn’t need to have a litter of kittens, so unless you are certain you would like to breed, you know how to do it responsibly, have good homes for the kittens, and are fully prepared regarding the time and costs involved, it’s best have her neutered (spayed). We recommend spaying cats from four months old.

Neutering not only prevents unwanted pregnancies, it also protects against problems such as pyometra (infection of the womb), mammary cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer.


Treatment for problems during pregnancy can be expensive, especially if your cat needs an emergency caesarean section. If you plan to breed from your cat it’s very important to make sure you can afford any problems that may arise, especially because many pet insurance companies do not cover breeding-related issues. Always speak to your vet openly and honestly about any financial concerns you have.


Do cats get phantom pregnancies?

Like dogs, cats can get phantom/false pregnancies, although they are less common and don’t usually have behavioural symptoms. Cats with phantom pregnancy have usually had a failed mating or have mated with a male cat who has had a vasectomy (a cut to the tubes that carry sperm). The main symptom is very pink nipples. Speak to your vet if you think your cat may be experiencing a phantom pregnancy.

How many kittens can a cat have?

The average litter size for cats is four kittens, although cats can have just one kitten in a litter. The World Record for number of kittens in a single litter is 19 but most litters will be much smaller than this.

Does my pregnant cat need supplements?

If you are feeding a suitable kitten or pregnant cat food then you won’t need to give your cat any supplements. If you’re concerned that your cat isn’t getting the nutrients that they need then ask your vet for advice and don’t give any supplements or medication unless they tell you to.

Published: June 2023

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.